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THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: The nerve of some beggars

ANTOINETTE CONNELL, [email protected]

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: The nerve of some beggars

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SOMETIMES I’ll come back to a topic time and again.

Begging is one of those topics.

No doubt many of you have been approached by a beggar in some form or the other. I have, and it is not usually a problem. And yes, even though the frequency and boldness with which begging has been happening are a bit of a concern, I can let that pass.

We are all free to say “no” at any point. However, sometimes I engage those who are on the receiving end of my hard-earned donation.

I am sometimes struck by the amount of money the beggars insist on, the number of items they ask you to purchase or indeed the nature of the items, some of which are not always necessities. In this case, one night while on my way into a supermarket, a dreadlocked man shouted at me to buy him some items. He wanted biscuits, cheese and something to drink, a Coke, I believe.

I gave him no undertaking that I would get him the items but once inside the store, I picked up two of them. On the outside I gave him the bag with the biscuits and a small piece of cheese. He looked into the bag and then let out a loud sigh.

“Nutten to drink,” he said part statement, part question.

I was silent.

He persisted: “You can’t get me something to drink too?”

I told him I had just given him two of the three items he wanted and maybe he should say thanks.

He said thanks but maintained that there was nothing to drink. I wanted to snatch back the bag but instead I told him that he did not know my set of circumstances. I explained to him that he had no consideration for whether I had the money to also buy the drink. I told him he did not know how many dependents I had, neither how much money I was carrying.

Believe it or not, he countered my points by saying that I could afford it. I asked him if he knew how many children I had to support. He countered that he had children too and went one up on me by saying that he had a grand “yute” whom he must also support.

At this point I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Was he trying to make a case for my money? Was he trying to make a case for a drink, or was he just plain indifferent to the point I was making?

Right there in that car park I told him that he was not getting that drink and furthermore, what had his grandchild to do with the matter. He said he was just letting me know. I told him something to the effect that he was unconscionable as he was only seeing his wants.

As I looked him over, slim build, all fingers, no obvious signs of disability or illness, I reckoned that he could easily find employment as a labourer if he half-tried. I told him as much and left annoyed.