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Homeless guy offered choice, turns down $100

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leoandpatrickA 23-year-old software programmer in New York City passes a homeless guy on the street all the time in Lower Manhattan and notices that he likes books.

“I get this feeling every day that he is a smart guy — he has books and he writes,” Patrick McConlogue (right) tells ABC News. “I was trying to think of a way to engage him and help him.”

But when Patrick posts about his plans to offer the homeless guy 100 bucks or the opportunity to learn how to write computer code, he gets hammered online, the Gothamist reports. Gawker calls it “some startup guy’s insane vanity project.” And that was one of the nicer comments.

Patrick goes through with it anyway. He introduces himself to Leo, the homeless guy who is 36, and gives him two options:  $100 in cash or a laptop, three JavaScript books and two months of coding instruction.

Leo turned down the cash. Patrick plans to teach Leo for an hour every day before work and has set up a Facebook page to post about the venture.

The programmer is still getting flogged online. Will Oremus on Slate says he’s not off the hook for “naivete and condescension.” But if you ask me, Patrick should be commended, if for nothing else, for stopping and engaging Leo in conversation. Too many of us turn, or scurry, away from homeless people

My father used to always stop — he’d even pull over in the car — to talk to homeless guys. Oh, they weren’t called homeless then. They were “down and out.” They were “living rough.” “Ne’er-do-wells.” Many old, remnants of the Great Depression.

My father had conversations with hobos toting too many bundles, forlorn bums and jaunty tramps. He offered them cash or a job at his shop. But I always thought most important of all, he treated them with dignity and respect by chatting with them.

By the way, most of the time the bums and tramps took the cash.

– M.S. Scully

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