After finishing our errands, Rory and I are sitting outside our neighbourhood DVD shop. It’s the kind of lazy summer afternoon that just begs for an ice cream cone. The shop does a lot of business selling super cheap cones. We watch as families come in and out as fast as they can scoop.
Rory is three, dressed in her uniform of pink and sparkles, complete with a Dollar Store tiara. She quickly eats her ice cream, soaking in her surroundings. I notice that she is looking at the man standing by the door of the shop, asking all those who pass by “Do you got a quarter?”
He’s hard not to notice. His hair is unkempt and matted in places. He’s dressed too warmly for the weather; his clothes are filthy and his shoes are full of holes. We don’t know his name, but he’s a regular panhandler in our neighbourhood. Probably one in 20 people place a quarter in his outstretched hand.
Rory finishes her ice cream and puts her cup in the recycling. She sits back down beside me, snuggling in and says thoughtfully: “Mama, why do some people need money?”
“Well honey, sometimes people don’t have any money,” I reply softly.
“None at all?” She sits with this thought. Then she pulls out her little purse and shakes out 75 cents — all the money that she has in the world. She walks up to the man by the door and places the coins in his hand. He thanks her. Then he looks at the family behind her. “Got a quarter?”
Rory grabs my hand and we walk home together.