Can you just ignore them at the red light?

Can you just ignore them at the red light?So, there I was cruising south on US-1 last Sunday morning and as I approached Kendall Drive, there “they” were. They were on all four corners of the intersection, and they were making their way up to the cars that were idling, waiting for the red light to turn green.

As I sat there, “they” walked up to my car and all of a sudden they became a person – a person in need, without direction, desperate for food and clearly in trouble. As I contemplated what to do, I realized that I didn’t want to look at them, so ever so slowly and cleverly Imoved my car forward a few feet, so as to avoid any more eye contact with them. And then, I locked my doors.

As I tried to read the sign that this 50ishyear old barely functionally man was holding, he turned away for a moment, “Let me see it,” I said out loud to myself. What am I going to do? I wondered. Am I going to ignore what I see, ignore what I feel, ignore that I can help this man whose sign read “Homeless and Hungry… Please Help.”

“What are you going to do?” Time is passing, the light is going to change and then you won’t have to do anything for this man, I kept saying to myself. My goodness, this was the longest light in the world, I thought. Maybe “they” have a way to control the length of the red light so they can get more money.

It’s so tortuous being a few feet from this man, as he looks me square in the eyes, holding that damn sign and uttering “help me,” which I could clearly hear through my closed window that helped my A/C keep me at a cool 71 degrees. I was hoping that there were some dollar bills in my center console, so I could get rid of him. But, no such luck.

As I contemplated life, I didn’t want to lean to my left and take out my wallet. He would clearly see me and stand and stare as I would fumble through my wallet quietly hoping that I had something smaller than a $10 bill. Then it dawned on me that I had a bunch of change somewhere in my car that I saved for those pesky parking meters in the City of Pleasant Living.

Then I saw the answer, right in front of me was my little change holder. Okay, that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to give him some change. But then my next dilemma was how much would I give him? It was the next thought that was really revealing, as I started cringing and wondering how I would get the coins from my car into his cupped hands without actually having to touch him. My goodness, how many lessons am I learning today? As I sat at the red light, waiting for the moment to be gone?

And then it dawned on me, I would take my change holder filled with lots of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and give it all to him. That seemed like a good answer. I rolled down my window, grabbed the change holder with my thumb and forefinger, reached out the window and tilted the holder and the coins rolled out into his eager hands.

In a moment, he smiled and thanked me and as the light turned green, I nodded back at him and then I was off wondering what lesson the next red light might have to offer.

Thought of the Day:

In the end, only three things matter; how much you loved, how truly you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at

6 Comments on "Can you just ignore them at the red light?"

  1. I understand your frustration but it is very dangerous when you are in a red light and all of the sudden someone approach you asking for money and it distracts you from the road. These people believes they have the right to walk thru the cars and it makes me nervous… I am an experienced driver but my daughter is not and at times I am wondering what if these people stay in the middle of the road and the light changes.. what is she going to do? – There should be a law that prohibits this type of danger… people should be aware that it is not very safe to just go from car to car until the light changes and you are stuck in the middle of a busy intersection and cars are driving away…. and it is people like you that allow this type of behavior to continue… these people will continue to swerve thru the street from car to car looking for money without any regards for this young girl that is just learning to drive and can get very emotional or distracted trying to avoid hitting any of them.. and if anyone gets hit,, it is our fault … I believe this is not fair and if they want to ask for money there should be a law that protects us drivers also…

    • Easy solution, and you don't even have to wait new laws to pass the legislature. Take her license and driving privileges away until she can manage not to get emotional and distracted by pedestrians. Drivers like you describe are a far greater risk to the safety of South Floridians than a slow moving pedestrian.

  2. As I stop at the red light and sit there waiting, I look at the person walking up to me, he is still a distance away from my car. My daughter says to me "Mommy please help that poor person!". I think to myself, there but for the grace of God go I, and I feel that I need to do something. This could be me if it weren't for the blessings in my life, this could be me. I then think what happened, aren't there any social services that can assist these people to get them off the street? I hear my daughter again she is right, children have a way of making us do the right thing, must be all those Sunday school classes I made her go to. Driving around with a kid in the back seat is like driving around with a conscience in your back seat. I look for a dollar or change and hand it to this poor broken soul. I've set a good example for my kid and everyone feels better. And guess what, it only cost me one dollar.

  3. JoJoWasAMan | May 2, 2014 at 9:13 am | Reply

    I usually throw them a banana or something.

  4. Dr. Claudia Hauri | May 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    Here's a solution that the homeless person might take u up on……pieces of paper in ur car for a hand-out with thee number 1-877-994-4357 is a FREE CALL – a HOMELESS HELPLINE…….which is supported by Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. Do not give people money, give them the paper with the phone number & tell them to call the number or call the number for them….just pull over first!!!!

  5. Ana Llerena | May 9, 2014 at 11:44 am | Reply

    I went, purchased food from McDonalds to help with the hunger. Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with giving money to someone that stated they were hunger then found them using the money to buy cigarettes. My daughter was little at that time and she was the one that pointed out the person with the sign making the purchase of the cigarettes. I had a harder time explaining to her why adults lye. Sad to say but since then I have never given money to any one in a corner. I prefer making charity donations.

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