I believe that everyone deserves to the right to eat good food.
I was just going to meet up with someone for coffee yesterday but I had an experience that made me think about people's choices about food and life.
I will never ever give money to a pan handler ever in the future because of the reaction I got from a rude and ungrateful man on the street.
Although I spend a lot of my time working on this blog it doesn't earn income and I have been looking for a paying job for a while. It's tough without a degree, at my age and the fact that I am not a super model who can get paid to just smile. But I have been spending a lot of my time involved in the food blogging community over the past year and have been going to all kinds of food events around town and this has helped me get by. Even though the restaurant community don't pay very well they are still very generous people in other ways. I have been invited for dinner menu sampling and I have had lot's of free samples to try at various food shows and festivals. I never take it for granted and even if I don't like the food I understand the fact that it's costing the food service industry money to be able to do that. Not all of these food vendors have McDonald's budgets. So the food service industry has been very good to me over the past couple of years.
Yesterday I met with a rep from Aroma Espresso Bar for coffee and to check out the new mural that just went up at the Aroma in the Annex on Bloor Street. She told me that the franchisee commissioned the artist to cover the pillars around the restaurant in beautiful artwork that represented the Aroma and Annex communities. It was an attempt to fix the tagging/graffiti problem they were having at the store. It really is unique and beautiful art. During our coffee meeting my lovely new friend from Aroma generously gave me a couple of gift cards so that I could continue to enjoy the great food and drinks at Aroma anytime I wanted to. I enjoy going to Aroma because it's not just coffee, they have great healthy food too.
But then my mood shifted because of one rude man.
After our coffee as I was walking back to the subway a man on the street beside the store was asking people walking by for money for food. I told him I didn't have money but I had something that would help. I thought I would pay the generosity forward and if this man was truly hungry it might help his day. The interesting thing was that the man just gave me attitude. He flung his hand like naw naw, I don't want that. I told him he could go into the store next door and get free food. What was even more interesting was the reactions of 2 other women on the street. One lady just rolled her eyes and just looked annoyed and another lady was saying take it to the guy. I started to walk away and then he decided to take it I guess after the other lady insisted. He didn't say thank you and I started to walk away to the subway and I could hear him not 2 seconds later asking more people for money for food. What I probably should have done is walk back to the guy and take the gift card back but then I thought if this guy was truly hungry he would go and get a sandwich from Aroma. I will probably never know if he did but I tried to help and was given attitude instead. Now I must say that I didn't willy nilly just push a gift card on some random guy. This guy stopped me and asked me for money for food. I don't have money but I had a card that could get him food but I guess what he probably should have been saying is that I just want money.
I don't normally give pan handlers for money as I have heard stories about people who abuse the system to get disability cheques and then pan handle to get more money and then they just blow it all on booze and drugs and do the same thing repeatedly each month. I haven't had a job for a year but I have never begged anyone for money. I always believed that you earn money for doing something. Even though I was given a gift card I am blogging about it and I like to tell people about Aroma so there is a trade off and mutual benefit for it.
I know it's not good to make assumptions about all of the people on the street but you don't know their story from a 5 second interaction and I don't believe in supporting people that are just out to scam people out of their money. Although the welfare system and community housing systems are broken I don't believe that giving a guy a couple of bucks on the street is going to fix the system.
People need jobs that pay enough to get housing and food and clothing. Anything else is up to individuals as to what any extra money is spent on.
I have to say though that a few months ago I had eaten at a new restaurant and had some fried chicken and had a couple of pieces that I couldn't finish so I got them to go. I saw a lady on the street who was very thin and pan handling and I told her I didn't have money but I could give her the box of chicken that I had. She said yes and thanked me. She was obviously in need of food but I don't know if that's the case with all of the people that ask for money on the street.
In another case a friend and I sat at a Starbucks on the lakeshore for a while in the summer chatting and sipping on some cold drinks. All the while we watched some guy standing on Lakeshore Blvd with a sign asking for money. He was there for a long time and a few people gave him money. When I drove home a while later I saw that he had moved a couple of blocks away but was still out there panhandling. I went to visit my friend a couple of weeks later and saw the same guy doing the same thing. This guy was just standing out in the hot sun for who knows how long asking for money. He was obviously fit enough to work so what is the reason he is standing on a major street just asking people for money.
I have to also note that as I walked from the Bathurst station subway to meet my friend a block away for coffee I passed one man who seemed to have mental health issues, he was extremely overweight and his pants were all ripped and dishevelled. He obviously hadn't had a shower in a very long time and he was just standing in front of the station mumbling something. Then I passed a lady who was standing on her shoes barefoot and clapping and I don't know what she was saying. And another person also asked for money as I walked by. I don't know what is going on with that area but there clearly is a need to make some changes.
People need help and I will continue to donate to specific charities when I can but this blogger will never give money to a panhandler ever again because of this one rude man.
Please comment below if you have any similar experiences.