I’m amused and saddened all at once.
I went out dancing last night with three sets of night shelter vouchers in my bag. Dancing done, I hadn’t even got two paces out of the bar before I was asked for change by youngish bloke. I was delighted. I proudly proffered sufficient vouchers to buy him one night in the shelter with meals thrown in, and waited for the ‘thank you’.
It didn’t come.
‘I’d prefer change, actually’ he said.
Before I knew it, I was having a heated debate with a homeless man about what my voucher-based offering covered.
him: thing is, that won’t buy me something to eat
me: yes it will, it covers 3 meals while you’re staying there
him: it doesn’t really work like that
me: yes it does, the guy in the shelter told me
him: no, it doesn’t
me: I’ll have them back then. I’m sure somebody will want them
him: no, no… (walks away with my vouchers and an ungrateful attitude)
My husband and friend, who witnessed this debacle, thought it was hilarious. Their immediate conclusion was that I’d foxed him. He wanted money for drugs and my very practical donation of a roof over his head and some decent grub did nothing to help him score. “He didn’t see that coming!” hubby chuckled.
I’m trying really hard not to jump to the same conclusion. To give him the benefit of the doubt. The shelter wouldn’t be serving food at that time of night and he was probably starving. Nevertheless… I can’t help being a touch outraged at how rude he was. Most people will just ignore him. I might not have been giving him exactly what he wanted, but surely it was better than nothing. I wanted to help. Isn’t that even worth a ‘thanks’? Surely, even if he didn’t use them that night (it’s summer, alfresco sleeping won’t be it’s harshest – other things
like drugs may have shifted up the priority list), he could save the vouchers for a night he really needed them. When did beggars get to be choosers?
Lesson learnt – I’m going to verbally offer the vouchers before handing them over in the future. If they ain’t grateful, they ain’t getting.