The Beggar

Reflections on fairness and life paths from Mark Seymour.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 4 May 2018.

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He’s sitting on the tiles outside Coles, styro cup in his lap. There’s a cardboard sign next to him.

‘Homeless. Need help’.

Written in red texta.

In case he gets asked what got him there in the first place.

Like he needs an excuse.

People mostly walk past with their eyes averted. Some bend to drop change. Some get annoyed. Maybe not directly. Either way it’s in the air. Talk back. Facebook. People going off. Beggar rage!

“They’re everywhere now. Expecting cash without working for it. It’s bullshit. Saw one the other day wearing docs.. Worth a coupla hundred easy.”

Hence the sign. To validate the exercise.

But does it even matter? The horse has bolted. He’s there now, sitting on the ground, filthy. Or maybe that’s a problem too. The aesthetic angle. A blot on the landscape. Not that Coles was ever a picture.

He could be a bull-shitter though or, he might be truely stuffed. You just don’t know do you? But see, it’s your choice. To give or not to give. So what’s the big deal? Why get bent out of shape about him just because he’s there? There’s plenty of beggars around these days. Get over it. Walk on.

But see, it’s a matter of principle isn’t it? We are all ‘born equal’ right? It’s what you hear. So whatever shit situation he’s landed in, it’s his fault.

Cute idea right? Really bloody seamless. Roll with it.

We are the sum total of our own choices and that’s it.

So, in the end ‘we get what we deserve’.

Which means he got himself there. ‘Homeless. Needs help’.. Really? So, why should he have the right to just rock up on the street excepting it.. just like that?

But see, there’s a catch. It’s this ‘choice’ thing right? Fact is, choices cost money. And the less of it you’ve got, well.. you get my drift. No margins. No wriggle room. No buffer and suddenly, oops.

So maybe he ran out of them. These so-called ‘choices’.

It’s logical really. We may be born equal, but what we’re born into isn’t and we’re certainly not born into choices. They come later. Not sure when exactly. Some very quickly. Some take years. Depends on the individual. And there are plenty of individuals. Billions in fact. All competing for a grab at the cherry.. so they can make, you guessed it, choices!

And there are people who are so on top of their game, they hardly have to make choices at all. They pay other people to make choices for them. Like driving. Someone does it for them.

They don’t even have to look for the car keys!

Actually, come to think of it, looking at you, me and the Rohingya? I’m thinking this whole born equal thing is a total crock anyway.

Or is it ‘created’ equal? By a higher power? It wasn’t just you and me fooling around one night after a big one.

Still, the higher power thing gets plenty of traction. Someone wrote it down once and built a nation out of it. Millions of Americans cling faithfully to the idea..

on $7.50 an hour..

Whatever. This ‘beggar rage’, thing can really beat the crap out of you sometimes. It can cause all sorts of internal stress. So really, it might be good idea to just sit down and have a really good long think about it, only if you’ve got the time of course. You never know.

The idea might just pop:

Anything could’ve gotten the bloke there, apart from what’s written on the sign.

He might’ve been retrenched, lost the house, couldn’t meet the rent, a dodgy loan, bad financial advice, (there’s plenty of that around) no savings, partner couldn’t stand the pressure, relationship breakdown and there’s addiction of course, childhood abuse.. mental illness, depression. Shit. How long have we got? Could be any or all of the above and now the bloke’s given up.

How DARE HE give up?

Or maybe he hasn’t. Not quite.

‘cos he’s still sitting there. Begging. And there’s a few coins in the cup already.