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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

April 23rd, 2014 (01:01 pm)

A guy just came into Burger King when I was eating there and asked people at each table if they had money for him to buy a hamburger. Everyone turned him down, naturally. Everyone always does. I had no cash smaller than a $5 so I told him no as well, adding for some bizarre reason that I only had a debit card -- I guess so he wouldn’t think I was lying about having no money when I had clearly bought a meal with some. He asked me if I’d buy him a hamburger with my card. Piqued, I immediately said no, I wasn’t going to go through the line again. Belatedly, I glanced over and saw there was no line whatsoever. He looked at me for a second, sighed, and then went on to the next person. Shortly afterwards, the manager kicked him out, saying that there was a soup kitchen on so-and-so street where he could get three meals a day.

I know everyone assumes all street people are drug addicts whom you should never ever give money to because they will spend it on booze or heroin or whatever. This guy just wanted a hamburger, though -- he wasn’t asking for the money for it, he was asking me to buy him an actual hamburger. I mean I suppose he could sell the hamburger to someone on the street and use the money for drugs but somehow that doesn’t seem particularly likely to me. He just wanted me to buy him a hamburger that would probably have cost 89 cents or something, but I didn’t want to get up and get him the burger. I would have had to leave my package of half-eaten apple slices and my two remaining chicken nuggets on the table! Someone might have stolen them in the two minutes it would have taken me to buy the guy a burger!

I hate, hate, hate the way I feel about this. I get so very tired of people pompously telling me the best thing you can do for homeless people is to look through them like they don’t exist. I am always telling those people that if I give a homeless person some spare change my point isn’t “I trust that you will use this to buy food instead of something self-destructive -- look at my naivete!” My point is “Hey, I see you, you are a person, sorry you’re getting such a shit deal in life.” The fact that I’m bipolar certainly influences that -- I know that nothing but a lot of luck has kept me from winding up in the same place they are in -- but I’d like to think it goes deeper than that. I’d like to be nice to homeless people because they are people too.

And then one of them asks me for a burger and I refuse him because it would be mildly inconvenient for me to get him one, and because on a certain level I’m annoyed at him for asking me in the first place. I WAS AT A GOOD PLACE IN MY BOOK. HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT ME JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE HUNGRY.

I started this post with the thought that I would ask you, my readers, how awful I am for having done that, but of course I know that a bunch of you would tell me I’m not awful because there’s a soup kitchen which is there specifically to cater to his needs and, I don’t know, people sitting in Burger King aren’t responsible for homeless people. And if you don’t think that you’d just stay quiet because telling me I’m a bad person is not a nice thing to do. So I don’t actually need to ask the question; I know what the answers (and non-answers) would be.

I just feel like shit about it. Maybe I’ll remember that next time something like that happens, I don’t know.

Damn it.

Comments

Posted by: electric misfit love machine (eyelid)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC)

I think everyone gets this feeling sometimes? We don't like to have people demanding that we give them stuff. It's really annoying - on a very primal level. Frankly, strangers demanding stuff is just rude, for that very reason.

of course, the person in question doesn't have much choice, but it still raises our hackles. Nothing we can do about that reaction.

I have a similar thing with the people who beg on the corner down my street. They have a sign and I have to wait at the corner right by them. I don't really want to encourage them to hang out on my street by giving them money. But what if they really need it? I don't know. If it's cold enough - and it gets very cold here - I sometimes give something.

I do most of my charity through supporting local businesses, causes, etc.

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2014 07:56 pm (UTC)

Supporting local charities is definitely a better way to go on a practical level, I know. I should do more of that. It might make me feel better about not giving to the people I can’t give to.

And wrt strangers asking for things instinctively raising one’s hackles, I suppose I only have to think of the MASSPIRG people who put me through agonies every day because I know everyone ignores them and they’re trying to earn a living but at the same time OMG GET AWAY FROM ME WITH THAT FUCKING CLIPBOARD. Of course, a homeless person just wants money while a MASSPIRG person wants you to stand there and listen to their pitch and sign some forms and *then* give them money. It’s kind of the same instinctive reaction though.

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