Every time I passed by a beggar, I struggled.

Should I give him/her some money? He/she looks poor/old/physically challenged. I’m the lucky one. I should help.

But wait. They could be faking it. Begging, news headlines warn us, has become an organized crime--a mastermind makes handicapped people beg and take the money away at the end of the day. If not, it's a new profession for those who are too lazy to find a job.

Or maybe they have tried? It’s not a fair world. We don’t live in a fairy tale where hard work and kindness always pay off.

I recalled that a begging old lady tried to pick my pocket in Barcelona. She was very skillful. She only failed because I had my wallet chained.

But maybe she was desperate. Who would hire a wrinkled old lady even though she’s perfectly healthy? Life is not a fair game.

I visited Barcelona, Paris, Rome, and a few other European cities before moving back to Taipei. And I realized big cities always have certain scenes in common. Like beggars on the streets.

On Sunday I went to a movie with some friends. On my way home, I saw an old beggar on Xinyi Road, one of the busiest streets on this island. He (or she?) was on his kneels, burying his gray hair with his arms. A plastic cup in front of him. I passed by and started to struggle and thought about all the possibilities as always. But this time I turned back.

I searched my wallet for one NT dollar, the lowest-valued coin (= three US cents). I dropped it in his cup.

I left and somehow felt better. With seven more pennies, he could buy a hot tea egg from the 7-11 nearby, I thought to myself.



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