Scrawny, aboriginal woman, maybe 40 or so. Substance abuser, homeless, maybe some mental illness, maybe associated with the substance abuse.Now, I posted about on this topic recently, which roused a little response. I discussed the thinking behind my usual responses to beggars. Some suggested theirs and I was also criticised for my "naive, middle class and condescending" attitude. Now, I thought the latter comment was quite disingenuous, but nonethess I gave it some thought. I reckon I give a shit a lot more than the average naive, middle-class, condescending person and I do - despite my faults and limitations - give a shit. Did I mention that I give a shit?
So, Matthew had declined the offer to help out this person, and I make no judgements of him one way or the other. Begging is an uncomfortable situation to find oneself in. On the one hand we don't want to be part of someone's problem (and money to purchase substances that may be abused aren't really helping anyone). On the other, we have some degree of compassion and it pains us to see others suffering. What to do?
Once again, I engaged this person. Leanne is her name. I asked her what she wants money for and she said for food. With whatever sincerity I could convey, I said that many people feel uncomfortable giving money, but that I'd be happy to pay for a meal. I suggested she order a meal and tell the cafe person I'd pay for it (they know me). Well, this is the first time someone's taken me up on the offer. Leanne looked all excited and appreciative. I must say that my way of dealing with Leanne was a slightly modified version, which I developed as a result of the discussion from my last post. Leanne actually said she'd really just appreciate a coffee.
A couple of guys were sitting adjacent to Matthew and I (FWIW, we were at the front of "5", a tiny little cafe). They complimented me on my attitude and one of them ended up pulling out the coins for the coffee.
Coincidentally, I was at the Nova cinema in Lygon St. Carlton that night seeing the preview screening of Winged Creatures with a Q&A with Rowan Woods. As I was leaving the cinema, who should approach me but out Leanne asking for some money. I said "Hi, Leanne" and she was surprised. "How did you know my name?" she asked. Now, I was wearing a suit and tie earlier in the day and at this time I was in my motorcycle gear. "I gave you some money for a coffee in Centre Place at lunch-time", I said and a light of recognition flashed across her face. Some other people walked by, she left me and approached them, and I left to go home. Make of that what you will.