Several days ago I returned from the playground with Beli and remembered we needed a few things from the market. I crossed the street and made my way to the grocery store.
On my way in, I saw him, a thin frail man in his 70s. He collects bottles from garbage cans in exchange for money. I don't really know if he is homeless but one thing I do know for certain is that everyday he's in front of our building rummaging through the garbage; I see him as part of the neighborhood. I even worry if it's raining out and find him outside with no umbrella. But today when I saw him, I wanted to do something nice.
As I made my purchases, I wondered what he'd like to eat. Some bread? Cheese? Bananas? So I made two separate bags, one for him and the rest were my groceries.
I walked outside and he was talking with another man and in my best Croatian I tried saying, "For you, please accept it" as I handed him the bag. The other man spoke on his behalf, "No, No," He said. But I insisted, I said "please?" Then I realized he could translate for me, he spoke English. "Please tell him I see him around here because I live in this building", I said as I pointed to the building to the side of us. "Here?" The man questioned. "Yes," then I went on to explain, "I wanted to do something nice for him...please just a little something."
The translator went on, "No,no it's fine he doesn't need anything, he wants you to take it with you and give it your daughter". But no matter how many times I insisted, he denied my help.
I walked away feeling embarrassed. Did I offend him? Did he misinterpret my intent of kindness for charity? I only wanted to offer some of what I had. Was this selfish of me? Or was he simply holding on to his dignity? Have you ever offered help only to be told, "No?"
How did you respond?