Why You Should Always Be Nice to the Homeless When Traveling

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Well, you should be nice to everybody all the time, but this just reinforced the power of pleasantry.

Over the last couple of years my faith in the goodness of others has been severely shaken. Traveling alone I’ve met lots of nice people, but also had enough things go badly that I’m skittish about interactions with others.

Vancouver streetWhen a homeless man approached us last week in Vancouver as we were about to put money in the parking meter right outside our hotel, my instinct was to distrust.

He asked how long we were going to be and told us that in the 15 years he’d been on that corner, they rarely policed the meters before 10AM (an hour from then and after we’d planned to leave). And if they did come by, he’d put a quarter in the meter for us.

He hadn’t asked for any compensation and seemed genuinely nice (I’m sure hoping we’d pay him later instead of the meter), but both of us were uneasy. Despite our unease we were pleasant to him and decided to risk taking him at his word (since the meter was $5 CAD an hour), rationalizing that it would be in his best interest to follow through in putting a quarter in.

Still, as we quickly finished breakfast and packed up, we were both anxious. Shawna headed out to the car while I settled up our bill, and when I got outside she was pointing at the cars behind us.

All of them had tickets!

When she had come out, the guy had told her “of course no sooner do I tell you that they never come by but they do.” He’d made sure to get quarters in our meter in time, but not for any of the other folks, because they’d “been jerks” to him.

So yay for his kindness! And for the power of being nice! Though Shawna and I debated all the way to our first stop whether we’d been naïve to trust him. What do you think?


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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