The $5 Candy Bar

On my way to the commuter train in the evening, there is a young black man who sells candy bars for a dollar a piece.  Often, he is standing there, selling his wares with his children.  Occasionally, I have stopped to buy a candy bar from him, before hurrying up the stairs at the station to catch the train. One day, I stopped to talk with him, and asked him why he was out in the frigid Chicago air selling candy. He replied that he was doing this to help support his family.  He had an honest and kind look in his eyes…I had no reason not to believe him. Once in a while, I would stop and give him two dollars, and would only take one candy bar, which I would eventually give away to someone else.

One particular evening,  as I approached this man selling his candy, I realized that the smallest currency that I had in my wallet was a five dollar bill–and, not willing to part with it, adverted my eyes from the candy salesman as I passed him by, scurrying up the stairs to catch my train.

When I sat down in my seat on the train, a woman sat across the aisle from me, and was talking with her friends. I heard the woman say that she only had a ten dollar bill in her wallet–but, not knowing what to do,  gave the man selling candy the ten dollars, and took a candy bar and no change.

When I heard this, I immediately hung my head in sorrow and remorse, for I was certain that I could have afforded to give this man five dollars, more than this woman could give him ten. I made a small “Sign of the Cross” with my thumb and forefinger, and asked God to forgive me for my selfishness and thoughtlessness. I vowed never to pass by this man again, without putting at least a couple of bucks in his hand–and, taking only one candy bar. And, I never have since.

“When I go down and see the way some people live,

and look around dismayed,

shame scorches my cheeks like the back of a flatiron.

How shamefully we hold our tongues.

Or, at the most, we hem and haw . . .

Lies are written on fat faces

That should be hidden in trousers . . .”

—Andrei Voznesensky


“Never stifle a generous impulse.”

–Author Unknown

Note: I have used this quote in a previous post. But, I think that it is important enough to repeat.


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