Right outside, to the left of the door, was a very small man in a wheelchair. He was the size of a child and must've weighed about 60 pounds, partly because he had no legs. He had bright eyes, despite his shriveled body. He asked me for money. I can ignore most people on the street, and convince myself on some level that they are there by choice, but someone like this, I could not. It's hard to lift yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't even have feet. At this point, all I had were a few BART tickets. I offered him one. "How much is it for?" he asked me, and I said it was $1.95. "One hundred and ninety-five dollars?!" he exclaimed, smiling broadly, like a little kid. I gave him the bad news that it wasn't for that much. He said that he wasn't interested in the ticket then, but thank you. Meanwhile, he was peeing on the cement below his chair. He continued to talk to me as if it were nothing.

"Is anyone looking out for you?" I asked softly. It occurred to me that it would be difficult for him to make it to a restroom and onto a toilet by himself. I also didn't know whether he even had normal working parts "down there," as it seemed he was just a torso, cut off at the belly button. He shrugged. I could tell he didn't want to talk about it, but I work with people with disabilities, so I pressed on. "Do you have a social worker?" He shooed me away with his hand and wouldn't make eye contact.

For whatever reason, he didn't want my help. I decided to let him be. I have come to the conclusion that we all can indeed change our fate, but we should never impose our ideas of what another person's future could or should hold.

Yet I can't shake the feeling that that is a copout too.

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