I Stood on a Highway Off-Ramp Asking for Money and Here’s What I Learned
Jenni Brannan

PS- there was a rather scruffy fella walking along the highway the other day when I was headed home. It was starting to rain pretty hard and he was miles from the nearest exit, in the middle of nowhere. He had on jeans and T-shirt and nothing else- no backpack, hat, anything.

Against my better judgment, I stopped and picked him up. He wasn’t really hitchhiking and didn’t have his thumb out. (Would I have picked him up if he had been? I don’t know.) He was grateful to get out of the rain. Said he was walking to Hollywood, Florida, where his mother lived. We were in Brunswick, Georgia. He also mentioned he’d been beaten up and robbed of everything. The knuckles of his right hand were swollen so maybe he had indeed been in a fight. I had no way of telling if this story was true or not.

I took him to a big truck stop plaza where he might have better luck finding a ride. Slipped him a ten-dollar bill, too, though again, he never asked for any money. He was grateful, and I could tell by his expression that he was a little touched. Made me feel good. But I wonder if I would’ve behaved any differently (i.e., NOT picked him up or NOT given him the ten bucks) if he had been actively panhandling. Who knows.

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