'tis the season...

Walking briskly from the bookstore to the car the other day I was stopped by typically dressed, warm-looking teenager. We approached each other as I rounded a corner, his hands were dug deep into his coat pockets, his scarf tight around his neck, and his long and unruly brown hair blowing in the cold wind. He made a hesitant step to interrupt my stride, seemed to stop himself, then started again toward me. "Excuse me," he said. "Could you help me out with a dollar or two for a train ticket?" I slowed, said, sorry, but no, and kept walking. Then I stopped. I had just spent more than I'd planned to on an assortment of gifts and some holiday cheer, and I reconsidered. I turned and asked him where he was going. "Union Station, in the city," he said. Reasonable, as the train station was only two blocks away. I pulled a $5 bill from my wallet, handed it to him, and he seemed surprised. "Merry Christmas," I told him. "Hope you get into the city soon." He thanked me, wished me Merry Christmas, too, and we each went our separate ways...me toward my car and him toward the station. Could it have been a scam? Of course. Does it really matter? No. I decided long ago I can't be the arbiter of who is or isn't legitimate when asking me for spare change, and while I can't give to everyone -- who can? -- I give when I can. 'Tis the season when our collective soul seems more alive than it does at other times of the year. So if you're approached by someone who might be in need, and if you can afford some spare change or a dollar or two, consider helping him out. That dollar or two will likely have a bigger impact on his life than keeping it will have on yours. For those who want a little more security when making donations to those less fortunate, you can visit www.CharityWatch.org or www.CharityNavigator.org to learn which charities do the best job of putting your donation where it's supposed to go. And from all of us at Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction, National Pavement Expo, and National Pavement Expo West, we wish you and your families a holiday season of warmth and cheer and new year of peace.

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