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?