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THE ’NETTE EFFECT: Beggars can’t be choosers

Antoinette Connell

THE ’NETTE EFFECT: Beggars can’t be choosers

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Sometimes entire strangers have the ability to make you feel lower than a snake’s belly, according to my friend.

None more so than some of those who solicit outside businesses or shopping areas, the legit and the not so legit.

I was reading Looka Lew in the WEEKEND NATION when this came back to me.

I’ll read some of the other columns but that is done more out of a sense of duty. I confess here and now that I do not always read every possible thing in the newspaper. But often I’ll pause for Looka Lew and Lowdown since the authors’ distinctively Bajan style and scenarios are a joy to digest rather than the other neo-colonialism, neo-fascism and economic liberalism harangue.

Lew and Lowdown keep things basic and simple and if followed, can impart the solution to some of life’s complex and perplexing issues. We get a good laugh, but what if we actually did what was instructed?

Lew wrote about a beggar who, discontented with the small change he offered, let it be known he’d rather have dollar notes. His sophisticated palette apparently couldn’t appreciate something bought with accumulated change. So while he got no money, he did get what would be for some the enviable chance to pitch a cussing in Lew face to face.

I’ll state again, I’m loath to give money to beggars. I’ll buy them food or other necessary items but money, no. But their brazenness continue to stun.

My neighbourhood, because of the nearby businesses, is filled with beggars and sometimes you will accede to a request or two. If it gets too ridiculous, I’ll just not acknowledge them.

For instance, one day as I headed into the supermarket, one man asked me to buy him something to drink. I nodded. Emboldened by that, he added something to eat. I nodded again. I could see where one would want some sort of bread and juice together.

Then all of a sudden I heard him say: “Biscuit, bread, peanut butter, cheese, coke . . .” and would have continued if I didn’t stare incredulously at him. The woman behind me began to laugh.

He had just rattled off an entire shopping list without consideration for my circumstances. Anyhow, he got one or two things and at that pace he probably got his entire month’s shopping completed by the end of the day. That beggar didn’t approach with an overall sense of humility but when he got one or two of the items, he was thankful.

Asking for something in that type of situation should be mounted upon a great deal of humility. Likewise, the donor should give with an equal measure of modesty at heart.

I really resent it when people start out by appealing to my good nature for a donation, and end up trying to goad me into a sense of guilt for not contributing. If I’m not motivated at that point to accede to your request, does that make me a bad person?

I find that some of the people who solicit for charities have a way of making you feel guilty for saying “no” or “not now”. It matters not that you might have given the last four or five times.

One time, while in Bridgetown with a friend, we were approached for a donation. I didn’t have money and so I declined. My friend rifled through her bag to get the specific amounted requested.

Meantime, the man raked me over and said, “Don’t mind she” and turned back to my friend.

How utterly rude was he.

I wanted to drag along my friend but this was her cause.

I looked at him squarely and said: “If I don’t have it, I don’t.”

Without knowing my situation, he assumed that I was being mean but isn’t it my choice whether to contribute or not? I almost fell for feeling bad when I reminded myself that I did not have the money.

Let no one make you feel badly when they push a piece of paper into your face and ask for a donation and you do not have it. Allow no one to make you feel badly when they politely and quite nicely request a contribution and you have no money at that point.

To those doing the soliciting, remember you are asking people to part with their hard-earned money; be nice before and after.

 Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected]