My heartbreak

I never write serious stuff here. I just don’t. It’s not that kind of place. But you’ll have to forgive me just this once. My heart strings have been plucked since hearing the story about the fucking douchebag prick fucks who doused a Big Issue vendor with water on saturday, so that’s my excuse for getting all weepy on you.

A young man came up to me at the Woolies/Engen on Mill Street in Cape Town and asked me for a Rand. I work damn hard for my money. I’m sure you do too. Some days it feels like I earn every cent at least twice. So I’m careful who I randomly give that money away to. And in this town you never actually know what they want the money for. Food? Glue? Night shelter? Tik? It could be any or all of the above.

So my question is – How do you know?

I looked in his eyes – this thin, young man, full of potential but so in need of help, and I tried to understand his story. What’s led him to this point? Does he really need my help? Does he really want my help? Can I make at least a small difference in his life? Or does he just need some sucker like me to hand over some coins so he can fix his next hit, or share it with the boys.

ME: What do you want the money for?
HIM: To buy bread.
ME: Go get the bread.

wait… wait… wait…

ME: Um, no, wouldn’t you rather buy brown bread instead of white bread? It’s so much better for you.

So he disappeared and returned with a loaf of brown bread, and I bought it for him.

I always wonder when I say no, what if I gave this person R20 and that was just the small step up, the little boost they needed to not feel entirely lost and alone, or absolutely starving.

How do you know? How can you tell? What’s your policy, if you have one?

Sorry, back to tits and ass and smut tomorrow.

10 responses to “My heartbreak”

  1. Gail says:

    I don’t give money, but I buy bread and milk and Chinese food and give it to my favorite hobos. I pretend they recognize me, they pretend to recognize me, its a good healthy co-dependent relationship

  2. david says:

    Good for you 🙂
    Beggars are a tough call, but you can never go wrong giving food.
    peace and love

  3. wozzel says:

    Oh Paige. I find myself in the very same predicament and I also often would rather buy something for someone than just give them money. In Durban there are 8 street kids along Argyle Road, and every morning my boyfriend and I drop off a bag with sandwiches. We can not feed them all the time, we can not save the world, but we can give them something for breakfast.

    I heard about the Big Issue – Issue and I was so saddened by it. Beggers and the homeless can become “too much” but what do we do? What can we do? Show some humanity.

    I tell you this much though. I do not give money. I never do. It’s a RULE.

  4. Paige says:

    chinese food, gail? an odd but nonetheless heroic choice.

    yeah, i think you guys are right, you can’t go wrong helping out with food.

  5. sham says:

    Sadly, I’m a hard ass.
    I never give anyone anymore.

    I used to, but my naive self got conned so many times I developed a hard smartie-like coating.
    Although ya know, I wish I could get some of my soft gooey center back.

    Also, if I can, I prefer giving any available food than monies.

  6. Kaloo says:

    I agree with Gail.
    Except I dont give Chinese food.
    Thats just wrong.
    Half-an-hour later and you’e starving again!

    I give a hot Indian curry.
    Funny thing though… no beggars ever come back for seconds.

    Also, I always keep Simba chips and Liqui-Fruit in the back seat of my car.
    Mostly coz I spend so much time on the road and i’m sometimes lazy to stop for lunch, but also becoz it comes in handy when im approached by a beggar.

  7. Azra S. says:

    I’m also a food giver. Although sometimes I give money (most times its no more than R3) when I have it. The way I look at it, I’ve done my part & my conscience is clear… what they do with it is up to them.

  8. Paige says:

    I’m posting this comment on behalf of Tiah, who has an amazing blog over here:

    Tiah wanted to post this herself, but for some reason her computer won’t let her.

    TIAH SAYS: I think there is a difference between your neighbours (some who have no house), a random stranger and kids. (Really try to only give kids food).

    Always be nice to your neighbours, the people you see all the time. It is your neighbourhood, after all, be it where you live, or work. When I lived in Rondebosch ten years ago, I just did what I did for the group of guys behind the main road Pick N’ Pay because – they were there, we saw each other most days of the week. I was a student, didn’t have much. Spare change from time to time. They’d ask if they could finish off the rest of my frozen yoghurt, a cool drink but even when I had nothing, we always exchanged greetings. They were drunks and goodness knows what. But that was their corner. That is where these men lived. Sp we were neighbours of sorts, and that was that.

    3 months after living there two guys jumped me on the secluded path between the flat and the Pick N’ Pay. Wasn’t till that moment I realised how dangerous taking that path was – only one way in or out – fence on both sides. And I fought like hell. I was buying myself time…but time for what? Two men.

    Wasn’t raped. My drunk and homeless neighbours? They heard me yelling and came running down that path. Men dressed in rags fighting two better fed cool boys with the only weapons they had – rocks. Their leader grabbed my hand and told me to run. He stayed with me the whole time while his buddies kept throwing the rocks till we got out of there. Think anybody in the Pick N’ Pay parking lot, who owned a car, who saw me bleeding, offered to help? But those men heard and came. Walked me all the way to the Jammie Shuttle after I bought them the motherload of food (had no money on me, only a debit card tucked into my underwear).

  9. Paige says:

    Azra, i think that’s a really good zen thought. when you give something your part in it is done. what they then do with it is up to them and out of your control. I like it.

  10. Ang! says:

    I try to always give. Mostly money, because I’m not in the habit of keeping Chinese food, Liqui-fruit or Simba chips on the backseat of my scooter.

    My thinking is this…we have no idea what it is to walk in another’s shoes. It’s not our place to judge, even if the person asking for money appears to be tippled. Who knows what tough breaks people have had in their lives.

    I look at them as a reminder for all that I have to be thankful for in my own life. That said, I also have days when I don’t give. And I’m embarrassed to admit that’s invariably when I’m feeling grumpy. Not cool, but I’m working on it! 😉

    Okay back to tits and other things smutty!

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