Monday, November 10, 2014
The Big Issue issue
Part One: Sandwichgate
"Get me a sandwich, man," our Big Issue salesman asked and we bid him hello on Saturday afternoon.
And I bought him a sandwich - as usual - because I'm a nice ask-no-questions sort of guy, and it breaks my heart that even our town - officially the place with the best standard of living in the whole of the UK - still has a homeless problem.
But this week, the sandwich I bought wasn't a sandwich from Starbucks because we realised we're paying through the nose for a Starbucks sandwich that's no better than one from any of the local supermarkets.
So I bought him one from Waitrose. Not too shabby, I know.
"Take it back, I don't want that. Why didn't you get me a Starbucks sandwich?" he asks. Rather unreasonably, I thought.
I do my impression of a goldfish as he then demands that I go to Greggs to get him something else instead.
He got this: The square root of shit-all, and a determination never to show him any kindness ever again. Until next week, of course.
Part Two: The Dilemma of Charity
And here's where I am torn between kindness and bastardism.
It would be very easy to say "Beggars can't be choosers" and leave that to be the end of it. The would be exactly the kind of thing I would have read dozens of times over if this was a local newspaper story, and those were the comments left by people with names like 'Common Sence' and 'UKIPDAVE'.
But I'm neither Common Sence nor UKIPDAVE and I question my actions as much as I question Big Issue Man and his natural desire for a decent lunch.
Big Issue Man has a job and he makes money by selling magazines. But he's homeless, or in a hostel and needs as much help as possible. I promised him food, and threw a silent passive-aggressive hissy fit when he turned down my act of charity. I never stopped to ask what he actually wanted, and instead got him what I thought he DESERVED, even though he's entitled to preferences like every other human being on the planet.
It was a failed act of charity that was supposed to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but instead left me quietly seething. That's the selfish gene inside of us all.
By way of background, Big Issue Man has become increasingly cheeky in his demands, having tapped me for some money outside McDonalds so he could have a burger, and then not buying a burger. I was all 'never again' after that one as well, and it has come to the point that we sometimes take a detour to avoid him.
So, should I have got him a Starbucks sandwich, or something greasy from Greggs like he wanted? Or should I just say 'bugger it' and never speak to him again?
Middle class problems in a middle class town.