The other day I drove to a friend’s place, using a large, main road to get there. The city sits adjacently to this road. It’s four lanes wide, and, given the aforementioned point, during morning hours the traffic resembles a block of chocolate.
Pulling up to a red traffic light, I noticed a sign reading, “beware of donation collectors on side of road,” and, lo and behold, I witnessed three heads, all attached to fluorescent vests, bopping up and down, beleaguering folks on their way to work for cashola.
I kept my window shut. Busied myself with trees on the side of the street – nothing unusual – and made it clear that I had no intention in adding to their coin collection.
And I find this to be a splendiferous irony. And here’s why.
Given the street’s nature, it is typically a hot spot for this kind of coin collection thing. The main difference being that it’s not usually so official.
Typically, there’s no sign warning motorists of people on the road’s side, “working the streets,” shall we say it. And typically, the people working the streets aren’t clad in resplendently green tops, or holding tins fixed with a thin, coin sized aperture on their head, rattling around the crumbs from people’s pockets.
This street is usually swarmed with folk who usually smell of goat’s cheese; sporting dreaded locks, jagged teeth, overalls, detached screen wiper’s and bottle’s of dirty old, soap water.
Busker’s of the “let me wipe your windscreen, shine your shoes and shoot you a smile, sir,” sort of hue, they usually is.
And here’s back to the point in why I find the irony of it all so delicious.
I, whenever I am fortunate enough to have loose coins floating about in my glove box, give them to the street people without second thought. In fact, one day, given that I’d seen the same dreaded man at least three times that week, I decided to chat with him.
“How’s business, bud?” I asked.
“Yeah, mate. Good. It’d be much better if the fucken cops just left us alone.” He replied, looking around, paranoid.
“Yeah, do they give you a hard time?”
“Oh yeah, they catch us whenever they can. Then they slap like $100 fines on us,” he sat on a moment in pause, “and sometimes they even slap us in prison for the night.”
“Oh shit, why? Surely it’s not an indictable offense?”
“Yeah, well, we usually make a run for it, you know. I mean, 100 bucks is a lot of money. So we run. And then when they catch us, they say, ‘why’d you run,’ and we say, ‘cause you were going to fine us and we can’t afford it,’ then they say, ‘well, we weren’t going to fine you, we just wanted to talk to ya’s, but since you ran, here’s a fine,’” he stopped talking to squirt some soapy liquid onto my screen, “we never used to run, we started running ‘cause of the fine’s. They’re full of shit, mate.”
“Yeah, I hear ya.”
I gave him a five because I had no change, and drove away. He thanked me with a big grin on his face, and told me to have a good one.
Now here’s my thing:
Why is it okay for regulated, donation collectors to jeopardise their safety and perhaps the safety of motorists in their pursuits to collect contributions, but not okay for probably homeless people to do the same thing?
I, personally, would much rather give my money directly to someone who needs it, rather than let it filter through a charity, thin out, wash in dirt and then trickle down into the hands of people assumed benevolent enough to do something good with it.
During my time at school, I took a unit in human rights. And let me tell you, if you actually study the so called “charities” and “non-profit organisations” that exist today, they’re often just as profit driven as a venture capitalist and more corrupt than the North Korean government.
And, aside from the lack of transparency in these organisations, even when they are transparent, a hefty percentage of the money is used for its expenses as an organisation. And, well, fair enough. It’s hard to find adept workers let alone adept volunteers … some sacrifices have got to be made. And, just as a side, they train them to be assholes, and to harass people with all they have. I’m not going to give you money because I feel pressured to, asshole. Go lick a goat’s balls.
And here’s my question:
Why is it such a terrible thing for people, directly in need, to use the same tactics in appropriating help?
Why is official regulation of these events mandated, when all that this regulation purports to do is stick a sign to a thick pole warning motorists of what’s happening?
Seems like bullshit to me.
What do you guys think? If anything.
Humans-are-strapped-into-social-albatrosses. And beguiled into puddles of guilt if they break free.