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A street story

"Can I ask you a question?" a tall young man asked in front of the Rite-Aid on my corner. "I'm not asking for money, I just have a question."

"Yeah, what's up," I said impatiently, in a hurry, in the cold.

"Can you buy me a $4 box of cereal?" he said. "I just asked everyone in the Rite-Aid & no one would." This was said a little indignantly.

"How is that not asking for money?" I said.

"I want to eat, not buy drugs or alcohol," he explained.

I gave him $2.

Update: A few days later the same young man stopped me in front of the Rite-Aid. "Can I ask you a question?" Is this about buying you a $4 box of cereal, I asked. "Yeah, what's wrong with that?" he said. Everything! You need a new shtick! A new location! For starters.
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