I worked over the weekend so that I could spend today with my niece doing the fun things that come with being a college freshman -- buying stuff! We did the necessities first, the requisite campus parking sticker and student ID. Then we went to the campus bookstore and bought an ungodly number of required textbooks, and even though many of them had those yellow USED stickers on them that apparently are 1) universal, and 2) never change, we still spent the kind of money that would be sufficient down payment on a house.
Then we headed to the Apple store in the Galleria, and that's where the real damage to the credit card began. Even though she had her student ID and we saved $475.00 with that, her Powerbook and upgraded memory, Microsoft Office, three-year warranty and Apple dot com something-or-other that allows her back up her files to the internet, well that grand total was just about two mortgage payments. And that student ID came in handy again since Apple was giving away a mini-iPod with purchase of a lap top. You know, so that she can go to class and listen to music instead of her professor.
While we waited for the Apple staff to load the software on the computer, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. Two sandwiches and sodas later and the now limp credit card was hit with $25.00. (For lunch??)
Right when we stepped outside, I noticed him sitting in his wheelchair, just at the doors of the Galleria entrance next to the Westin. My first thought was that he was a smart guy to place himself there because it's not cheap to stay at the Westin, and if you step one foot into the Galleria, you're either going to spend $25.00 for two sandwiches or you're going to hemorrhage your credit card, but either way, you have to have some money. (Unless you're going there to ice skate, but although I have not checked prices lately, I would still wager that even that doesn't come cheap.)
He had a bright American flag affixed to the back of his wheelchair, and I could see that he was missing his left hand and struggling with the portable cassette player in his lap. I felt bad for him and at the same time felt guilty for the crazy expensive lunch we just had while he was sitting outside in the heat, having to rely on the sympathy of strangers. As we approached the doors, I stopped to hand him some cash I'd pulled from my wallet.
He looked at the money, then up at me in surprise, "Uh, no, no thank you, I'm just waiting for my ride."