**I’m not going to out the charity in this story…so they will merely be called “charity” – very imaginative huh?**
I’m not sure what he was doing standing outside of the Job Centre, but here he was, his clip board in hand, the name of a charity stitched into the hoody he was wearing, a sullen look plastered across his face (the phrase “face like a smacked bottom” was rather apt here). He was absent-mindedly tapping his pen on the papers in his arms and surveying the (mostly) unwashed hoarde in his mists, making a huge fuss of lifting his nose in the air as people pattered past him (their eyes tracing the ground).
Occasionally I watched him smirk (more than once at very dishevelled man who clearly hadn’t known a hot bath let alone a warm bed for a very long time).
Occasionally I saw him wrinkle his nose and flare his nostrils as a couple of the mass approached him asking him for 20p.
One thing didn’t change though, and that was the way in which he looked at them…He eyed them all with the same expression – contempt.
Pooling in my stomach was an unusual sensation, an unusual feeling, a peculiar mix of anger, pity and amusement. I yanked my (rather smart) coat closer, raised my head high and strode from the building. As predicted the man blocked my path, a fake smile traced his lips…
“Hello luv, I’m raising money for this charity…I’m a fundraiser” he said, almost proudly, and loud enough for everyone around to hear him.
Me: “I see…”
Fundraiser: “And I was wondering if you could spare some money today?”
Me: “Unfortunately not, I can’t spare any money today”.
Fundraiser: “Well, what about setting up a direct debit?”
Me: “I can’t I’m sorry”.
Fundraiser: “But it’s very important you do this, you have to do this” – he rambled on about what the charity represents and why money is needed before adding – “it’s selfish for you not to donate, you’d be responsible for people dying you know”.
Me: *now a bit annoyed* “Can I just ask why, out of everyone here, you’re asking me for money?”
Fundraiser: “Well, look around. It’s obvious isn’t it?”
Me: *feigning ignorance* “Not really, explain it to me”.
Fundraiser: “Because you’re clearly not a sponger like the rest of them…you know how to have a wash, you’re not high, you’re not drunk, you don’t stink….”
Me: “But why do you suppose I was in the Job Centre?”
Fundraiser: *laughing* “Because you’re probably bored with your current job and looking at options”.
Me: “I’m a Job Seeker….I’m one of these spongers you’re looking down your nose at…”
Me: “Tell me, did you offer any of the people here money when they asked you for it? Did you consider buying any of them a coffee or a bottle of water or a sandwich?”
Fundraiser: “Pfffft no…why would I?”
Me: “Because they have no money….alot of them don’t have food, or homes…and when Winter comes how do you think they’ll survive?”
Fundraiser: “You’re asking me to give them money?”
Me: “You asked me for money”
Fundraiser: “For a charity…for those less fortunate”.
Me: “What do you consider everyone here to be? How many of us are ‘spongers’, as you call us, through choice? I know I’m not”.
Fundraiser: “That is not the same thing”.
Me: “Isn’t it? You’re fundraising because it gives you a wage…”
Fundraiser: “I’m fundraising because there are people less fortunate than me, and I care about supporting them”.
Me: “If that was the real reason, if you really cared for those less fortunate, you wouldn’t have laughed at anyone here, you wouldn’t have smirked or turned your nose up or acted as though we are the scum of the earth. And you certainly wouldn’t have tried to guilt people who have no money into setting up a direct debit when that person can’t even afford the bus fare to get to the Job Centre”.
Fundraiser: “It’s only a direct debit”.
Me: “Only! We’d be forced into more debt, we’d be thrown into further trouble”.
Me: “You are no better than anyone else here, you have no right to make any of us feel bad or any worse than we already do. You are asking the unfortunate to aid the unfortunate and getting a kick out of the guilt we feel over being unable to help…I suggest you get off your high horse and treat people with the respect they deserve…maybe then people who can help you, will help you”.
A clapping sound resounded in the small courtyard, the homeless, down-trodden and unemployed were applauding as one…as I took my leave, with a smile on my face.
PS – Not all fundraisers are pushy and obnoxious, some do believe in what they’re doing…some are genuinely interested in making a difference in the world. The small minority that are like the one I encountered boil my blood, picking on those less fortunate is just plain pathetic!
Today’s song of the day:
Abba – Money, money, money (“Money, money, money…it’s so funny….look a five pound note!” ….oh wait….those are my mate’s lyrics, ah well).