Later in the day there was another beggar man who looked like he had been in some kind of accident. His face was scarred as if he had been burned, and it appeared his eye had been hurt. I was feeling bad about the previous experience, so I handed him a few coins. He made this sound like "Eh!" It's not a chinese word, but it's meaning was clear. He thought I should be giving him more. I made a noise too, and again it wasn't a chinese word. But it's meaning was kind of like "Pffftt!" Neither of us communicated by words, but he got my message and he left. It was all I could do to not tell him in chinese what I really thought. Maybe I just don't have a very giving heart, but I don't like demanding, ungrateful beggars.
Later in the day I was walking over a bridge to get to the other side of a busy street. There was a man sitting there selling some clay flower he had molded. This man had crippled hands. It looked like a birth defect, rather than arthritis. But he could use his hands enough to mold the clay in to beautiful clay roses. I turned to my friend and told her I was going to buy one to support this man. Here was someone who by every right could beg for a living. But he was doing something to earn a living and keep his self respect. I didn't even really want one of the flowers, but I wanted to support him for not turning himself in to a beggar.
The beggar issue will always be a struggle for me. I don't know if there is ever a rule that will fit every situation. The poor will always be with us, but it's hard to know when to give, and when not to give.