Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Street People"

Last night, on our way down 8th Ave SW in Calgary, a nicely dressed young man stopped us with "Excuse me, but could I ask you a favour? I just got off the bus from Dryden and someone stole my wallet."

Yah? Right! As friggin if!

ARRGGHGHGH What is UP with these people? Once the reserve of the truly desperate, this obviously well-fed person had resorted to the old "stolen wallet" saw that has been the domain of bonafide vagrants and street alcoholics.

I will admit I was less pleasant than I might have been, but man, I cannot imagine how a guy of that age cannot find work -- in this city, where nearly every business is begging and pleading for staff -- and would stoop to begging! Actually, given his really nice jumper, shirt and jeans, I'm pretty much sure he has, or recently had a decent job.

I'm sorry. I don't buy that story from the crazies who jump out from the bushes near Robson Street in Vancouver and I don't buy it on 8th Ave in my city either.

I am a meanie, perhaps, but I am also a single mother of three now-adults. The one and only time I ever asked anyone for money was when I asked my dad for a loan of $600, which was exactly equal to the amount I already had saved to buy a car. I paid him back in one month and yes, I had a child then.

I am aware that sometimes people legitimately fall on hard times, but I have no respect, nor will I ever have, for people who are quite able to find some type of work and access the myriad social services and support agencies in Calgary, but refuse to do so and opt for bugging me on the street.

If you're wondering if I've ever given money to someone on the street, the answer is yes. I gave to a young man -- about 16 years old - who had obvious needs, and I said he could have it if he promised to use it to eat. He said he would. Street kids, I can understand (because I know that for the most part, there is a lousy mom who has subjected her child(ren) to some creepy, abuser step 'dad', and/or has abandoned her child(ren) to a host of foster 'parents' and foster 'homes').

These others, who are, at best, grifters? Sorry, no, I don't give money and no, I won't develop respect.

GET a JOB.

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