Why Not He? 3


It maybe sounds weird but the more I start fighting me out of trouble the more I also worry about other peoples sorrows. I even cross my fingers for Nicolas Cage and his tax debt, if the rumors are true.

But Nic is not the ‘he’ in title of this post. No, it’s a guy I see walking through our city for something about 10 years now. Asking people if they can give him 1 Euro.

It was at the parking lot of the DIY mall when I bought some bags of sand for my backyard project (I’ll try to post some pictures of my progress soon). This guy was walking from car to car asking everybody if they could miss 1 Euro. I know that the same guy once rang the doorbell at my girlfriends place and asked her at the door for 1 Euro. She gave him money and when she later went shopping in the city, the guy showed up again and asked for 1 Euro. This time she told him friendly that she wasn’t able to give him money all day long. I would never consider asking for something without offering something back. When my girlfriend told me that story I asked myself why this guy isn’t offering something. Though it is embarrassing walking from door to door (and the facial expression of this guy is very embarrassed, I swear) why not chose homes with dirty windows and offer to wash them for a Euro each? OK, not many would make use of this offer. Maybe some would and he would earn 4 or 5 Euro. Maybe some people would give him a tip without letting him clean anything. Just because they find it a nice offer. But wouldn’t this be much more positive and less embarrassing?

I don’t know how you think about this, but I find this situation embarrassing. This is exactly what I want to avoid for myself. The need of begging for money. So when he came to the parking lot I honestly told him that I was in similar situation and couldn’t spent something for nothing. Moments later when I sat in my car on my way back home I thought why I didn’t gave him the following advice: ‘Take 10 pieces of 5 cent and offer them to somebody who is bringing his shopping cart back to the stand. Some people will take your little money and give you the cart. Then you have to get new 5 cent coins for the 50 cent coin that’s in the cart. Other people wouldn’t bother to give you the cart with the 50 cent coin in it without taking your little money. Some would tell you to go inside a shop and change the money. However, chance are big that you earn a couple of Euro’s this way without any embarrassing situation.’ Of course he is a well known face out on the street and people recognize him, but wouldn’t this be better?

When I stood in the bread factory the next day, working for a small hourly wage, again I had a thought about this situation on the parking lot. I thought why isn’t this guy standing here doing this? Didn’t he get a chance to do this work? In fact everybody could do this. Why not he? Did he ever asked for a job like this? I just know one thing for sure, however low it pays, I feel much better doing something like this than humiliating myself by walking from car to car on a parking lot and ask people for 1 Euro.

I don’t know the background of this guy. I never took the time to talk to him to be honest and I don’t know if he tried to find some work. So it’s surly not up to me to judge.

Before I wrote this, I spoke to my girlfriend about it and she said that it maybe isn’t anymore in his comfort zone to ask for a job. Maybe he feels more comfortable by just asking for money and maybe he has success with it. After all he is maybe very lucky with his life. Although I can’t really imagine this last one, I think this could be a possibility as everything is a matter of perspective.

What do you think?

 


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3 thoughts on “Why Not He?

  • Jonni

    Hey Mario. I don’t know anything about the homeless situation or beggars in your country, but in the U.S. there seems to be two or three different groups who fit your fellow’s description. One group has simply discovered that they can make more money asking for it than they can working for it. If they have the type of personality that doesn’t embarrass easily, this seems to work out for them. We even have college kids from wealthy families who sometimes dress down for a lark and beg on the street, just because they think it’s fun.

    Then we have the largest group, the real homeless who are often suffering from a mental illness of some kind, or an alcohol or drug dependency. They really need a safe place to live and a way to contribute to society, but there is no place for them to go except on the streets. Once you’re in this group, it’s hard to get out. You need an address to apply for a job. You also need clean clothes and access to a shower. And you need a mind that works reasonably well. Some people really don’t have these things. Actually, thousands of people don’t have those things here in America.

    If you ever ask that guy why he makes a living as a beggar, let us know what he tells you. I’ll bet he has an interesting story to tell.

    • Mario Post author

      Hi Jonni, the situation here is comparable, though I do think that the first group you described barely exists here. This fellow I wrote about is in my opinion capable of doing something like working in a factory, maybe something else. I really think it’s in his comfort zone just to ask people for money and do nothing. I can be wrong about this.

      Where I live in the Netherlands it’s not that extreme like in Amsterdam but we have drug addicted homeless people here as well, although they are in some way or the other are brought out of sight in the city. A few years ago we had a lot more. Since they started mounting camera’s all over the city they disappeared.

      As far as I know there is help for people with an mental illness. No matter if they are homeless or not. I honestly never heard of somebody dieing in the streets. That does not mean that it happens but I never heard of it here.

      My biggest fear always was to become one of them through weird circumstances. I just finished my second week without panic attacks and at this moment I work for 22,5 hours a week at the Dutch IRS as data entry employee. The funny thing is that I like this job even it is far under the level I used to work.

      I will be back with new articles soon. Tomorrow comes the housebroker (I guess this is how these guys selling houses called) so I have to clean up a little. Oh yes, the backyard isn’t finished yet, but I plan to place pictures of my work soon as well.

  • Jonni

    Here’s an interesting slideshow that brings up even more questions to add to your ponderings about your odd fellow on the street.

    And I’d love to get your comments on my latest blog post about the current health care reform debate in the US. We have a comment from Canada already, and your European viewpoint would an interesting addition to the mix. Hope to see you there.