I believe that I will forever be doomed with a non-threatening demeanor.
No matter how intimidating or unapproachable I attempt to look, most people are able to see through the façade.
I've tested this theory on homeless people on the busy streets of New York, on schoolchildren, and even on small animals. Somehow, even with a scowl, and an air of disinterest, most people, and things, find a way to spot me in a crowd, and take advantage of my helpful nature.
This quality recently contributed to me doing something that I have never done, would normally never do, and wouldn't recommend: I gave two complete strangers a ride to where they needed to go.
Like most of my encounters with the needy, it began with me minding my own business. After a long week of cataloging the future history of Clayton County, I retreated, as I often do, to the video store.
As a person who deals with politics and news all day, most of my movie choices stray from reality as much as possible. My fingers found their way to "Batman: Gotham Knight," but before they could make their way to an equally unreal comedy selection, I was interrupted by a somewhat desperate looking couple.
The man reached out his hand and introduced himself. He was tall, lanky, and wore an outfit that looked like it belonged to a gas station attendant. However, he had a kind voice and was very polite; a dramatic difference from the majority of people who ask me for things.
Being polite, I shook his hand, too, but didn't introduce myself. I wasn't convinced. I have been a victim of crime several times and wasn't ready to let my guard down.
The man was persistent, well-mannered, but very persistent.
He eventually introduced his wife to me and after some beating around the bush, explained to me that they were a homeless couple who had gotten on the wrong bus to a safe house where they were supposed to stay for the night. There was a woman living somewhere off Old Dixie Highway, who had the key to this safe house in Forest Park. But the couple had no way to get there from where we were in Morrow, since the buses had stopped running.
Mentally exhausted from the week behind me, I told the couple to let me finish what I was doing and that I would talk to them outside.
I could have gotten in my car and driven away. I could have alerted the store management, or even the authorities about the couple, but something inside me at the time, told me to go and talk to them.
I wasn't sure if my grinchy body was being filled with the Christmas spirit, if God was using me as a tool to complete some divine task, or if I was simply being a sucker.
However, after checking their bags and persons for weapons only to find ground beef, dry spaghetti, and some loosely packed eggs, I decided to give them a ride.
The couple thanked Jesus as we made our way down Reynolds Road toward Old Dixie Highway. At night, with two strangers in my car, the path to Old Dixie Highway seemed like an eternity. During that eternity, the couple explained their situation and how they had come from Macon to find work.
Given the state of the economy, they eventually found themselves homeless. They said the safe house would give them one night where they could have a roof over their heads and share a warm spaghetti dinner.
I sent the couple away with some bottled water, the only thing in my car that would be of value to them. As my nerves settled, I realized that I had actually helped two people who were desperately in need.
While my good nature has led me to be taken advantage of before, I went home feeling that God had used me as a vessel to help somebody else.
Perhaps suckers are really part of God's toolbox for the greater good.
Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.