Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On vagrants and beggars

I'm getting sick of people asking me for money.

No, I'm not talking about the government, bill collectors, or the "evil" corporations flogging their Chinese-made wares, I'm talking about the bums downtown.

I can always tell when the Social Assistance cheques are out - the bums have cigarettes.

So, for a few days each month, I can walk around downtown relatively undisturbed.

But then, mere days later, the same faces keep coming up to me;

"Can ya spare a smoke?" or "Got any spare change?"

Today was no different.

As soon as I got off my bus on Isabel at Sargent, a gaggle of vagrants came up to me wanting cigarettes. "Sorry, I don't smoke," I replied politely. "Well, fuck you!" came the reply.

Nice.

Which put me in a foul mood by the time I got to work. As I'm normally in a foul mood at work, nobody noticed.

So, after an insanely busy (but good & productive!) day - nine hours of constantly ringing phones - I was exhausted, and more than happy to see five o'clock roll around.

No sooner do I get off my bus and walk a block east...

"Hey buddy, do you got any change?"

(sound of CJ snapping)

"Buddy, I just worked my ASS off for nine straight fucking hours! Why the fuck should I support you because you won't get up off of yours?"
Wisely, he walked away without saying anything.

I felt a tad guilty, as I am well aware some people are truly in need.

Guilty, that is, until I saw the same guy an hour later carrying a half-empty mickey in one hand, and a cigarette in the other.

Sometimes, we unfairly stereotype the indigent and homeless. Sometimes those stereotypes are bang on.