How many streetlights do you need on one street? I kept asking that myself during my brisk walk to the 69th Street Terminal. Small traces of the sun’s warmth seemed to catch my stride. I started to hear a faint but familiar tune. I wandered to the source of the sound to find that a man, just about my height, was playing Sir Duke on his saxophone. I let the music surround me for some time, tapping my feet to the rhythm. I tossed a $5 bill in his case and moved about my business after a while. I found a spot to relax and waited when a lady in a red white and green walked and stood in front of me.
Ever since childhood I’ve been known as a nice guy. Although some people might confuse it with gullibility, I just consider it hard to say no. If family, or a close friend, asks for money, I’d oblige to it without thinking. If I don’t have what they’re asking for, then I’ll ask them if what I have would suffice. I don’t know why, but I’m obsessed with seeing people happy. Now don’t get my wrong, I’m not feminine or mushy or any of that, but seeing people upset around me makes me not operate right.
I don’t even know why I asked this question. I knew what would come from my 19-year-old brother Na’im.
“Can I borrow $10 for gas?”
Of course I said to myself! Now I had no idea if that was what is was really going to, but I had just received my first paycheck so I was happy to give him some money. That was just how it went. It didn’t matter if they paid back, or if it was just a giveaway, I don’t let family go without. Friends on the other hand are just a little different. For them, their must be reason, and its not usually more than 5$ if its money. I never pondered over them, but those have always been the rules I set on loans/gifts.
One time, my mom even questioned me on my kindness. We were in the kitchen cooking, about 5:30pm. I was pouring bacon bits in to a searing pan, careful of the grease trying to fight me. Out of the blue, she asks a puzzling question
“Why do you give away your hard earned money to people who’ll spend it on God knows what?”
I looked up from my flaming pan, gave her a big smile and said “Cause I’m a nice person.”
“Look out child, that’s going to hurt you when you get older”
That was one of the only sayings I pondered before. Half of me thought she was right, but the other half thought that there couldn’t be any consequences of being polite. I really disagreed with what she said since I haven’t been penalized or effected negatively by giving money.
The last time someone asked me for money was not too long ago. I was in my English class on a warm morning, sitting next to my “bro” Octavious. I was tapping a beat on the table when my teacher walked around selling notebooks needed especially for this class. He turned to me, face stricken with hope, and asked for 1$ dollar to purchase one. Seeing that it was for school, and he was one of my bro’s, of course I said yes. It wasn’t the first time he asked for a monetary supplement, but he always pays back so it’s was ok. That’s how it is for almost everyone, I never ask, but they always return.
I make sure that people understand that I’m not gullible. People may not see on the exterior, but there are rules to this money system. If people see that I give away money to my friends, some of my lesser friends/acquaintances start to ask. That’s when I firmly and adequately refuse. To me its not a bad habit, just me being nice. I’m not getting overpowered, and I know how to say no. That’s probably why for the first time in my life, a stranger in a red, white, and green Rita’s apron moving towards me rewarded my kindness with a gelati and a warm smile on a warm summer night.