Finding a steal of a deal
By Antoinette Connell | Tue, July 03, 2012 - 12:00 AM
i had just exited the ATM and was making a beeline for the supermarket when, from the corner of my eye, I detected a man moving towards me.
He had an unkempt, nervous appearance which caused my pulse to quicken a bit, in keeping with my heartbeat which also shot up. My heart was beating so loudly in my ears it overtook all other surrounding street sounds – distant chatter, vehicles, horns and even alarms.
It even drowned out what the advancing mysterious man was saying. The supermarket, which under normal circumstances was a matter of yards away, strangely seemed miles away and the normally busy area was devoid of people.
It was late evening and visibility was good; and I wondered if this man was about to try something. There was nothing in his hand that I could see and he was not a big person, but you never know what desperation could make a person turn into.
As I neared the entrance of the store some of my courage returned. Any sudden move by the stranger, and I would be screaming for dear life. But it wasn’t time to push the panic button yet.
Then I heard his words and I froze in my tracks.
“Excuse me, Miss; I could get $5?”
I turned slowly and took in the stranger’s appearance and he looked to be a street person. He repeated his request and this time I found my voice.
“You want $5?” I asked incredulously.
If this was a crime in progress, it certainly was one of the most polite and specific ones.
It wasn’t. The man was just begging for money.
I asked him how it was that he was asking for $5, if no one asked for 50 cents or a dollar anymore. For a few seconds we went on about the money and he asked me what I expected, that food had increased. We reached a compromise though, because I’m not in the habit of giving out money. In the end I bought him something from the supermarket.
Some beggars I accommodate but not with money anymore. I have this belief that the money will end up in the hands of a drug dealer and nothing would annoy me more.
Likewise I do not accommodate people just wandering around offering up items cheaply. You do not have to possess Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction to realize that they are stolen items. By providing that market you are encouraging crime. You may be thinking that you are getting something that you would never be able to afford otherwise.
I’ve heard some people boasting about how they paid next to nothing for certain electrical gadgets from paros without sparing a second thought for the original owners.
The flipside to that bargain is that you are providing a market for the proceeds of crimes and it may only be a matter of time before the favour is returned.
Stop for a minute and consider if those cheap items originally belonged to you. If it were your misfortune to have your property snatched from you or your home invaded, would you be pleased that someone was out profiting from your heartbreak? What if the crime involved violence? Could you possibly feel good about saving a couple of dollars at the expense of someone’s life and limb?
A similar argument can be made in the case of stolen food crops and the cruel slaughtering of animals whose owners faced the unforgiving elements to earn a living.
It could never be fair to have the rewards of labour – after months of toiling in the sun – snatched in the dead of night by some unfeeling criminal, aided and abetted by a greedy consumer.
The temptation may be great but the suffering of the other party far outweighs any monetary benefit. It is time to shut down the market for such ill-gotten gains.
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