That’s what somebody told me, anyway. One time, somebody ran up to me, telling me they needed some money, and when I gave it to them, they quickly left. I told this story to a friend of mine, and that person told me that I shouldn’t have given them the money because they were just a dangerous drug addict. If I hadn’t given them that money, my friend said, they would have just mugged me.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I find that view on things very cynical. There are many reasons a person could end up homeless, and drugs is not the only one. And to assume most of them are dangerous and would happily mug you, well, I would quite definitely disagree with that! As such, when the opportunity came around I put the “Bath homeless people are dangerous drug addicts” hypothesis to the test.
My university routine means that on every other Thursday, I’ll usually have to hang around the streets by myself waiting for a bus for two hours or so. Sure, it may sound boring, but I can sit around thinking about stuff or planning stories or blog entries, so it isn’t that bad. Though, having said that, ever since I lost my Gameboy and Tetris, waiting around for things isn’t quite as fun.
Anyway, on with the story, there I was sitting on a bench, letting the time pass me by, when I was approached by a homeless man. Unfortunately, I never learned his name.
“Do you have any spare change?” he asked politely.
“Umm,” I said, checking my wallet. “Nope.”
“Oh,” he said sadly, “that’s okay.”
“But,” I said with a smile, “If we go over to a cash machine, I can get you some money!”
Now, I had decided I was going to use this opportunity to test the hypothesis of my friend. This may sound like I was being manipulative with the homeless man, or that I was giving him money for the soul purpose of proving somebody wrong, but, while it may have potentially been manipulative, I have a little rule about always giving money to homeless people who ask me for it, so I like to think that I wasn’t being too jerkish.
Anyway, I wandered over to a cash machine with the homeless person, one which is actually in a small dark alley. Once there, I put my card into the machine and quite openly entered my PIN number. Had he been some bad person, he could have quite easily used this time to threaten me and make me give him £200, or even stolen my card and used it elsewhere. But no, he did not. I don’t believe the idea ever even entered his head. Perhaps you would call me naive, but I was confident that nothing bad would happen and I was right. The man was just very appreciative and went off happily to spend the money.