EDIT: Thanks. I'm sending a check for $1600 and change as soon as the paypal funds hit my bank.┬á Any donations still inbound are going to a friend who's beyond destitute. I'll take that up later.┬á If you haven't sent money on this, please hold off or give it to someone else in need.
EDIT: The gentleman was overwhelmed.┬á I'm glad we could turn his horrible weekend around the next weekend. Thanks to all.
I try to avoid publicizing my own charity, because I feel it cheapens the act to boast of it.┬á Well, I'm not boasting here. I'm asking for a little assistance.
Here's the person and the event:
Last week, my family and I were in Florida for research, including a SpaceX launch (SF writer here. Of course that's research).
Between the site tour and the launch, we had a couple of hours, but not enough to go back to the hotel. We (two families) took all the kids to a McDonald's Playplace to burn off steam.
While we're seated, a man and his son came in. The gentlemen displayed symptoms of frustration, possibly of Tourette's, and struggled with the order kiosk, with some repeat gestures and tics.┬á His son tried to help him order, and eventually an employee came over. It seems it was frustration in not finding his favorite meal, which had been discontinued.┬á Note that he was quiet and non-aggressive, just internally frustrated.
They get food, they sit across from us, and a few minutes later, a police officer shows up. Someone had called about "Signs of distress."┬á The officer was very professional, checked his ID, and the man was entirely lucid and clear during the process.┬á That done, officer leaves. ┬áWell and good.
Obviously, having your stressful evening aggravated by a police call is even more stressful.┬á He had a family member show up, I presume his brother, and they took turns going outside to smoke, and spending time with the boy, about 10, who didn't seem at all troubled by his adults, but bothered by the attention they were getting.
For a couple of minutes, the boy was alone while the adults were smoking and taking a bathroom break, and that's when this humorless, middle-aged busybody, the kind who likes intruding in people's lives, comes over with staff to point out the "abandoned boy" and how they should "Call child services."
We made sure the staff were aware the adults were on the premises, and they encouraged her back to her seat and to mind her own damned business. How dare anyone who doesn't fit the middle class stereotype be in her presence!
I should note there was a pile of food on the table with the young man, though he didn't have much of an appetite by this point.
So here's the kicker: Jess had taken Alex out to the car to nurse, and calls to ask if I still have my cash, because some teens outside were bragging about "finding" $200 in the bathroom.
Yup, I have my cash, but guess who'd just been in the bathroom? That's right. The gentleman everyone was obsessing over, who'd just left, picking up his son for a big cuddle on the way out. Adding insult to injury, he dropped the boy's ice cream cone from a physical tremor.
I go to the bathroom and strategically placed on the trash can is his wallet, containing his ID and a bunch of pictures of the boy. And no cash. I guess the punks "found" the $200 in his wallet.
I handed the wallet to the manager as we left.┬á
So after the fact, I contacted the local police and they helped me get contact info with the man's family. Yes, he was a local handyman, and had just finished some work and been paid cash.
Well, I'm about to send $250 to this guy the universe decided to take a dump on last Friday. If anyone reading this today would like to chip in, I'll send that, too.