Beggar in the coffee shop


“Hi guys. Sorry to bother you. I am not begging. Just trying to make a living.” and so the story starts. It’s like that spam message that says it’s not spam. The moment you see that line, you just know that it is. “You see. I bought this [sic] sunglasses yesterday for R99 ($11) and someone stole my money at the shelter last night.” He looks around furtively as the smell wafts over you. In some cultures, it may have been quite delicate, that unmistakeable blend of body odour, piss and 99% proof vomit. In mine, the sledgehammer bashes against the side of my head and I see stars until a heroic breeze bats it aside. His face bears the scars of too many days in the sun, the blistering remnants of some wino cage match long since obliterated by methylated spirits filtered through a loaf of white bread. He leans in. “Please,” and another bash pushes you back in your chair till you feel the buttons in the formerly comfortable cushion dig into your spine. Fight or flight time, bile rises and so does your anger. Seeing rage replace the distaste on your face, he makes a well practised retreat, “I can see I am bothering you. Sorry.” and off he goes to accost the polite young thing in the corner who has not yet developed the required rhino hide, scowl and cynical view on the world. Oh come on, wake up girl, don’t open your wallet. Damn.

So much for getting to the toy store early this morning. I may be a stay-at-home Dad and am meant to know when the shops open and close – 5 minutes to closing.. “Dad, I need to take cupcakes to school tomorrow.” – but I also used to run a successful business and for the life of me I cannot understand why shops don’t open earlier. Especially in the holidays and weekends – I know staff costs extra but come on.  Especially when any owner worth his loafers would see that the mall is packed with people having breakfast and the only stores open are already filled with Xmas shoppers and the occasional beggar  What’s with opening at 10 am?  Come on. The sun has been up for hours, it’s a bright warm day and everyone is out of the house, smiling and happy. Granted it is a Sunday  but there are enough of us heathens to fill a customer base and a toy store or two.

Here I sit, in my favourite local coffee shop, typing up this blog entry while I wait for the bloody shops to open. It’s an arb blog entry but its my arb and this is my blog… Booh. Wife and kids have gone to join their friends and their Moms for breakfast. Dad has been given a list. Names and possible presents with preferred and alternatives. A few suggestions, denoted by the odd question mark, and just vague enough to drive a man mad. Ladies, just a quick note, when men go shopping, it’s not to browse, it’s to buy. Lists are great, but we need the t-shirt size next to your sisters husbands name.  When last have you seen a grown man (not batting for the other team)trying to figure out what size t-shirt to buy for another man.  Come on ladies.  This is my second run at the list and I am about to advocate zenhabits ‘Don’t buy anything this holiday‘ challenge.

Totally impractical – as is most of – but aspirational none the less. Sure, I’d like to emulate some of his ideas and follow his philosophies – who would not, but lets face it. There is no chance I would get that past my wife or kids and to be blatantly honest, I like the conveniences of modern life far too much. If I won the lotto, I’d build a house off grid and do everything else I could to reduce my negative impact on the world but I like meat too much (I hereby express my deepest sympathies to all those living breathing sentient beings I have and will still eat) and you can forget about home schooling. I am sure my wife and I would be better at it than the public school system here but I want my kids to grow up and experience life so that they can develop their own rhino hide and jaded belief systems. Sure, growing veggies, dropping our carbon footprint, meditation, exercising and most of the other things mentioned are admirable in principal (and perhaps in practice) and I am willing to concede some long term benefits, but come on dude, everything in moderation.  You must have indoctrinated zombies for children (or live in a religious sect) to toe your own line all the time.

I’d be the worst Dad in the world if I did not fill the Xmas stockings with whatever the cute little rascals wrote on the letters they posted to Santa.

Hey, the shops are open. Bye.


ps.  Before the bleeding hearts club get hold of me by the short and curlies, yes, there are destitute people deserving of help, but not some drunk wino smelling of booze trying to scam his way into a little money.


2 thoughts on “Beggar in the coffee shop

  1. Pingback: Cave painting period | Lance Phillips

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