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August 05, 2005


Kat...over the sea

This is a great smiley entry for me, as in SA, you have no idea how many street people I drive past and what you can buy on the corner here - we have evolved from flowers and cool drinks to coat hangers, encyclopedias, DVDs, dustbin bags, perfume, fruit and vegetables, newspapers, world maps, globes, Cds, key rings, sun shields, umbrellas, boomerangs, sandwhiches, muffins, pens, notepads, map books, calculators, tissues, ear buds, cotton wool, white men, black men, women, children - all with signs stating their plight... the list is endless and grows each day. Pretty soon, I will be doing my grocery shopping on William Nicol Drive.

As to what to do, I think I am desensatised - I cant give to everyone, so how do I choose? I dont choose, I help the world in another way.


It is difficult, isn't it? Because here you have a person demanding that a connection be acknowledged, a connection in which you in fact believe, but in which he probably does not. Which makes it all twisty and dissatisfying, no matter what you do.

For a long time I didn't give anyone money on the street. Then for a while I gave everyone change, whatever I had in my pocket. Now I work in a suburb that is designed entirely to keep poor people and prosperous people from ever seeing each other, so the question almost never arises.

Really it doesn't matter much what you do, I think, so long as you don't close your heart. The money's not going to make much difference one way or the other.

I certainly don't feel that someone has *more* claim on you because they're trying to guilt-trip you. But probably not less, either.

Cheeky Prof

The feeling of manipulation is normal, I think, and I've felt it too. Still, not all people on the street are this way, and I'm likely to give to those who don't make me feel like I owe it to them.


I don't tend to give people money, but I do try to at least acknowledge that they are there and that they are people too (even though some are, as you note, annoying people). I hate it when I'm out with people for whom street people are just invisible. Street people make me uncomfortable, and vaguely guilty for not giving them money, but at least I recognize that they are human beings, not features of the landscape or something. The people who aren't out to manipulate me out of my change do smile back and look relieved when I notice them -- which is such a sad state of affairs, isn't it?


It is a sad state of affairs. You're right that acknowledgement makes a big difference. I do try, but I often find that when I'm out walking around the city, most people are invisible, not just the street people. If I'm in my car, say, waiting for Ms. P to get out of work, then I can see all the people around me, but walking in the city puts me in a weirdly focused frame of mind.

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