While driving home from a meeting in Orlando, I came off the I-75 exit at Wild Wood and was stopped at the light to make a left onto Hwy 44. As usual, there was a panhandler on the side of the road with a homemade sign begging for money. I have seen a person there a hundred times and, although it occasionally crosses my mind to make a donation, I seldom get past thinking about it before the light changes. On top of that I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to beggars. On more than one occasion I have offered to hire a man holding a work-for-food sign, only to be turned down. This time, perhaps because it was the Christmas season, I not only stopped, but I gave and laughed as I did it. The difference was all in the man’s marketing.
As I pulled up to the light, a thin man of perhaps 50, with a stubbled beard and shaggy clothes, stood up with his cardboard sign. As he did his face lit up into a smile, which despite numerous missing teeth turned his face into the face of a man who didn’t seem to have a care in the world. As I made eye contact, he pointed at the sign and his smile grew, as his face lit up with the expectation of a child on Christmas morning. His smile and body language had already stirred my hand towards my wallet. When I read the sign it was a done deal. It said in large black letters: “Why Lie? I Need Beer!”