Yesterday the girls and I ran to the mall for a few minutes to pick up a couple of items. Living in one of the most affluent areas of the country, our local mall is pretty upscale, as you might imagine. Just to give you a sense, recent new tenants to the mall include Burberry, Cartier, Frette, and Louis Vuitton. So, panhandling isn't a sight you would expect to find there. In fact, in the nine years I've lived here, I've never once seen it at the Stanford Shopping Center -- until now.
Outside Neiman Marcus is a fountain that is a huge attraction for the kids. It features a sculpture of frolicking frogs, and as is the custom, kids throw coins into its basin. We recently taught S how to do this, and she of course, loves to pitch money in there. So, while we were there we walked by the fountain and S asked if I had any coins. I checked my wallet, and there wasn't even a penny to be found. My change purse was empty, empty, empty -- not even any lint in there. While I was putting my wallet back in my purse, before I even realized what was happening, she ran up to the fountain, found a man doling out pennies to his young son, and asked him for one!
All I could hear was, "Can I have one?" The very nice man didn't skip a beat: he just reached down and handed her a coin. Meanwhile, I was trotting over there protesting, "S, you can't do that. You can't just ask people for money." I went over and apologized to him, but he was very kind and understanding. Thank you, Kind Stranger, for being so gracious to my kid and me.
I was definitely embarrassed, but the irony wasn't lost on me. There I was wearing my expensive watch and holding the keys to my luxury vehicle while my daughter begged for money in front of Neiman Marcus. If she's going to panhandle, she should at least learn how to play an instrument for money...