If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it is probably worth it.
A few weeks ago, I was driving on Carson Street in the South Side of Pittsburgh early on Sunday morning. While stopped at a traffic light, a guy came over to my window and asked for help. He pointed to a car across the street which had its hood up. He explained that he was a carpenter trying to get to a job but having car troubles. He said his name was Joe and, to establish his bona fides, he named the contractor he was working for and several recent jobs. He said he had already called a tow truck but was going to be $17 short of cash when it arrived. I gave him $20 and he promised to send me repayment on Monday morning. I gave him my business card so he’d have the right address.
Joe expressed sincere and lasting gratitude as he walked away toward his disabled car. I got to enjoy the pleasure of knowing I had helped a suffering human being in a moment of misfortune. Don, you are a good person.
It was while I was congratulating myself that I noticed Joe had dropped my card on the pavement. I jumped out, grabbed the card, and handed it to him...again.
Of course, in the days and weeks that followed, Joe never repaid me.
It is tempting to see Joe as a diabolical parasite feeding on the generosity and goodwill of strangers. Pure evil. But it is probably more accurate to see him as an incompetent nincompoop. Based on the evidence, Joe probably lost my card again before he reached his vehicle. There’s a good chance he also lost my $20 bill before the tow truck arrived.
In general the world has far more stupid people than evil people. Look around you. Nincompoops outnumber devils one thousand to one.