I know live a pretty sheltered life. I seldom encounter homeless people unless I visit a nearby city, but then I do respond and I always give something to street collections too.
Last night I met a best friend for a meal out. We elected to sit outside as it was such a mild evening and the terrace was on the high street. We were the only ones sitting there when a man came up to us and handed us a flier. He didn't speak initially and I just thought he was advertising something local - there was a street theatre production unfolding in front of us at the time too. However the flier - which was badly printed - explained that he and his family are financially in need of support. It also depicted two girls.
I think I went through a whole range of emotions - surprise, discomfort (embarrassment?) guilt, confusion ... as it gradually dawned that he was directly asking for money. Like me, I could tell my friend felt vey uncomfortable. We both gave him some coins and my friend tried to engage him in conversation to say he needed to seek financial assistance from the local authority. He said "I only speak French!" in a way that simply closed down conversation and he seemed angry. He looked 'foreign' - it went through my racing mind that he might be an illegal immigrant. Once we had handed over the money, he also indicated that he wanted the fliers back. I doubted if he was 'genuine' as did my friend, but we felt we had given him the benefit of the doubt. We saw him stopping people up and down the high street several times over the rest of the evening.
I just felt so taken aback and, to be honest, quite intimidated at the time.
Anyone else had this type of experience?
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