There's a homeless man in Tauranga I've crossed paths with a couple of times.
He sits outside a bakery I sometimes get a sandwich from.
There's something that gets me, pulling up in a nice car with three kids and all my creature comforts, rolling in and buying a sandwich simple because I feel like it.
Him sitting there way down on the cold ground, teeth missing, pleading desperate eyes.
Last time I stopped in I asked him if I could get him something. He said he'd love something with bacon or ham in it so I bought him a bacon and egg sandwich. He seemed exceptionally grateful, thanked me, and started eating it immediately.
This week, I asked him again. He said he had a backpack full of food but he'd just got out of hospital and was trying to get into the backpackers for the night, so anything to go towards that would be a big help.
When I went in, I asked for $10 cash out. Even $10 felt a bit stingy.
I wasn't sure if I believed his story, but I wasn't sure if it mattered.
The bakery owners asked if I was going to give it to the man outside. When I told them, yes, they told me not to. That he was only going to spend it on alcohol. That he was a liar.
I felt like I'd been sucked in a bit. I ended up getting food because it felt like the better thing to do.
But who am I to decide that for a man I don't know?
It was a cold morning, colder than it had been for a while.
• Premium - Auckland landlords charging Government $300 a night to house homeless
• 'I'm human': Guard accused of stealing homeless people's blankets hits back
• Claims of rapes, robberies of South Auckland homeless forced into central city
• Rotorua man remortgaged to help homeless. Now he's sheltered 1000 in one year
Do we think that in supplying him with money, we are only contributing to his problems, or is it more selfish than that?
Do we only give when we can see some benefit in what we are giving? When we think we are getting something out of it too?
Do we only give so we can feel good about ourselves for attempting to lift someone out of a situation we perceive as detrimental - rather than simply offering something that only keeps them there?
Maybe he is an alcoholic and that $10 could have stopped him having withdrawals that could kill him.
Maybe it might have softened the edges of a day spent in the shade on cold, hard concrete.
If I was in his situation (not that I know what it is exactly) I'd probably want to be a little bit drunk too. Maybe I was wrong to listen to the owners. Maybe they have him all wrong. Or maybe they are bang on.
Who am I to judge?