Three or four weeks ago I was with my friend Matthew and we were about to get a coffee when I saw a middle aged man sat on a step in the middle of the city, crying his eyes out. I stopped mid sentence, shocked and so walked over to him.
Long story short, he needed to get enough money to get himself home (a different city) and Matthew ended up giving him €60. I could not believe how much he’d given. Anyway, the day carried on yet I was still gob smacked at how generous Matthew had been. When we walked back past the step the man was no longer there.
From that day on every time I was in the area I hoped never to see this man again and that he’d used the money as he said he would and got himself home safe.
That was the case, until today.
I was meeting up with Matthew in our usual spot and would you believe it. The same guy, on the same step, crying the same tears. Pissed off is an understatement. I wanted to walk straight over there the moment I saw him but Matthew stopped me and steered me towards the cafe instead.
Once Matthew had gone I walked past the step and had to stop. The reason why I was so furious is because if people on the street do things like crying hysterically in order to get help from passers by, yet are then seen again doing the same thing. People like Matthew might think twice about helping the next person they see and it has a ripple effect in an extremely negative way.
So I sat down next to him on the step and asked him in as nice a way as possible why he had not gone back to his city, and why he was still here crying the same (FAKE) tears.
Now his explanation was that he had been getting treatment for testicular cancer in the hospital here, as in his city it wasn’t as accessible for some reason or another. To his credit he went into a lot of detail and even offered to show me the stitches. To be honest if we hadn’t been in the middle of the city I would probably have said ok.
I want to believe what he said. Whether it’s true or not i’ll never know. But what I do know is that if he is lying, somewhere in his conscience there will be my voice telling him that his lies could effect those who really do need help. I like to see the positive in people and I do believe what he told me, although those tears he cries I know are an act. Yet unfortunately, it seems as if that is his only way of actually getting people to stop and acknowledge him, so who am I to judge.
In this world, there are a lot of people that need help, day by day we are becoming numb to poverty. Numb to the cries of people in need. It should not be a normal thing to see people begging or crying in the street.
To those who think it’s not their problem. Yes it is your problem. It’s completely you’re problem. The bigger the gap between the rich and the poor, the more fear you’ll face in your day to day life. We are all humans and all deserve to be acknowledged and cared for.
I could have been tainted by my own assumptions if I had not confronted the man on the step. But now the next person I see crying, I’ll still stop and I will not walk on by. Every little act we do makes a difference. But it can only start from the bottom. We need more Matthews in the world and less people controlled by fear.
If you see something you don’t like, confront it head on. Perhaps you’ll be wrong like I was.