Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gas Stations and Homeless People

When I was in college, taking all of those economy classes, I remember learning how the check card was hurting the gas station owners. Because of the high prices of gas, gas stations only slightly markup the price for gas. In fact if they have just one "drive off," they loose money for the day and can't recover. Gas station owners rely heavily on the stuff they sell in the stores. A large portion of that revenue is generated by impulse buys that people make when they come in to pay for gas. So, the ability to pay at the pump hurts their business.

The other night, ironically (maybe), as I was walking out of a gas station store where I stopped just to get a drink, and not gas; I had one of the usual late night encounters with a homeless man asking for money. It occurred to me that their business must also be hurting due to the check card. I mean, I never carry cash at all anymore; and I know I'm not the only one. Even if I did want to fund this alcoholic's habit, I couldn't. It also gives me an honest excuse, suppressing what little guilt I used to get when I turned down these people.

My friends, Anthony and Josh, come from cities where this is more common; Memphis and St. Louis. In my travels with them, I learned that Anthony just yells at homeless people when they approach him. Josh starts speaking in French and acts like he doesn't understand what they are asking; a creative, yet just as effective tact. I remember one time, however; when in downtown Atlanta when Josh's method yielded an amusing result. The homeless man started yelling at us. "we don't need you foreign people here!! We don't want you here!! GO HOME!!" I would have told him to go home, but... well...

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