Pondering The Meaning of Selfish

I live in a small town and we don’t have panhandlers here. When I do go to a city and am confronted with people asking for money, I usually avoid them, or turn away. I’m not sure why.  I feel uncomfortable and and I usually do what most everyone else does…pretend like they are not there and walk by. Last month I was in Boise with my husband. We were driving and stopped at a stop sign exiting Whole Foods.  There was a man on the corner holding up a cardboard sign.  My husband reached for his wallet, pulled out some cash, then handed it to this man.  I was surprised because I had never seen him do this before and asked him, ” Why?”  He said, “Because there are a lot of people who are just trying to get by.”  I got all choked up and wondered, “Am I selfish?  Why was I doing what everyone else was doing?  Who would ever want to have to stand on a corner and ask strangers for money unless they were really down and out?”

Yesterday as I was  heading home from TMC14. I was in Boise again at a stop sign.  A young man stood on the corner holding up a tattered piece of cardboard. “Please help, trying to get back to CA.”  I started wondering about him and the girl near him that slept on the grass.  What was their story? I thought about the lone five dollar bill in my wallet.  Then the car ahead of me rolled down their window and handed the boy some money. I did the same. He gave me a smile and a nod of thanks. I wondered what would happen if everyone helped him out? How long would it take him to get home?

Okay, so then I thought of TMC14 and about how I’m a panhandler trying to get stuff from all these kind, brilliant, and  amazing teachers.  They/you are all so generous and I am so grateful. You have inspired me and continually help me to become a better teacher.  I have been selfish, but this is a good thing, because really even if I just keep it to myself, I’m still giving it away to my students right?  But what about all the other teachers that are “just trying to get by”  wanting to panhandle but not knowing where or how? It’s time for me to roll down my window again.

So, for those of you who were not at TMC14, here’s the beginning: Twitter Math Camp 2014 wiki

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