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Saturday, August 29, 2009

There’s no such thing as a free lunch...

It’s hard to go anywhere in the downtown core of Toronto and not be confronted with those that beg. Most ask for change, few are aggressive, But few receive a positive reaction from the public. A lot of us believe that these people are panhandling, lazy, and not wanting to work individuals. And the begging has spread. Living in the beach I see them daily. Sitting on the pavement, begging pennies.

Few of these folks receive more than the quickening of the pace away from them or an “I don’t have any change”. But many of these folks are truly deserving of our change. Or if not our change, maybe a cheap meal. And at least a kind word.

My local grocer has a deli section that sells prepared meals. The packaged ones you grab on the way home late from the office. A chicken leg with rice and some green beans: or mashed potatoes and a pork chop. Later in the evening these hot meals are half-price: guess they’re going to be thrown out anyway. So I’ll grab one with my daily shopping. Then I’ll give it to the panhandler at the corner.

Some of us have been led to believe that beggars are asking for change to buy drugs and alcohol. I’m sure many are. But the majority truly need your loose change to buy a meal. So why not buy them a meal? Or give them an apple from your bag of groceries?

So what do I mean by there being no such thing as a free lunch? Well there are free lunches, aren’t there? A company rep or an important client will quite often buy you lunch. Or your boss buys you lunch. When your boss buys you lunch don’t for one moment think it’s free. You earned that lunch. You also earned the lunch that sales rep bought you. You just didn’t pay for it out of hand.

You went to work one morning with five bucks in your pocket. Your boss bought you lunch. You’re going home that evening with five bucks more in your pocket than expected. So why not use that five-dollar bill to buy the homeless person you see every day on that busy yet lonely street corner?

Believe me, that’s not a free lunch to that person either. That person begging change on the pavement has paid for that meal with their self esteem, their pride and the scorn of most that pass him by.

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