Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Vendor



Big Issue seller, Oxford, 2006
"Please buy Beeeeg Ishooo"
he pleads
in his dirty postcard rasp
that grates,
irritates so much
that I want to slap him down. 
He grasps at unoffered hand
“Thank you, thank you lay-deee,
you buy Beeeeg Ishooo?”

Can’t he see how he makes me cringe?
Can he not understand that
“No thanks!” means No Thanks
and I know that he is homeless
and I should take a good look at me
and wonder what I am all about
as he shouts, begs, pleads
“Pleeeeze buy Beeeeg Ishooo,
pleeeeze lay-deee!”

But I can’t, I can’t.  
If only he would not beg
in that sleazy voice,
grab hold of me with greasy hands,
stare at me with that pleading face,
can he not understand
he makes my blood boil
as he knowingly invades my space,
takes away my choice of Yes or No
as he pressures for a Yes and only a Yes?

Sorry fella,
know your fighting homelessness
but from me it will always be “No thanks”
and that's just how it will always be.

Anna :o]

Today’s Meeting the Bar at dVerse~ Poets Pub is hosted by Victoria C. Slotto and the theme is ‘Writing Characters.’  Thanks Victoria!

The above is an observation of a street vendor and unfortunately it is true and perhaps it is as telling of me as it is of said street vendor?  I am ashamed of myself for having such an antagonistic opinion of this man which must come across (to him).  I really can’t help it for there is something about his manner that infuriates and I really can’t escape him as his pitch is the entrance to the bus station where I catch my bus…

For those of you outside of the UK selling The Big Issue is a means by which those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless can ease themselves back into the workforce by selling the magazine on a fixed pitch and earn money on each sale.

Please click onto The Big Issue Foundation to learn more of this charity whose mission is: “The Big Issue Foundation is a national charity which connects vendors with the vital support and solutions that enable them to rebuild their lives and journey away from homelessness.”  

Image: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the author is Kamyar Adi.  Thanks Kamyar!

(Please note that the vendor in the photograph is not the man that gets on my nerves!)

PS Don't know what happened above (to first two lines) - tried to respace but the blog seems to have a mind of its own...

25 comments:

Claudia said...

i have problems with people as well that invade my space.. no matter who it is..armani-scented banker or homeless...so i can understand this..and i also understand the feeling ashamed cause we know the man needs help.. really like your capture anna

Brian Miller said...

it can def be uncomfortable when they are pushy...i have a big heart for the homeless but def can see where them grabbing you and being so aggressive in their tactics would be scary...

hedgewitch said...

Sounds like a very confrontational approach to what is basically begging--I have to admit I am also made uncomfortable and often distrust those who want me to give them my money...especially the aggressive ones. Here they pitch at you in your car from the side of the road, so you have some measure of distance--face to face like that sounds terrifying. I am happy to help, but I would rather give my money to some organization that feeds and helps the homeless than an individual I know nothing about. Maybe that's a lack of compassion, but I grew up on some hard streets. Excellent response to the prompt and a sharp character study of both you and the vendor.

Daydreamertoo said...

Oh, I forgot all about these street folks who can sell these newspapers to earn some cash. Is he legitimate? They have to have their name ID showing to do this. Maybe he should be reported to the paper org for being way too in your face pushy? I don't know but, they're not supposed to make you feel that uncomfortable.
I know how I used to feel about the homeless windscreen/shield washers as soon as you stop at lights and then getting nasty if you didn't want your windows washed.
You got your feelings about this over so well.

Beachanny said...

Agree with Joy. The invasion of personal space is something women, particularly, have to avoid in cities. I've found when visiting the UK people seem more aware of it than they are here. Although I did have a couple of instances when I wouldn't be left alone..oddly enough in York and Birmingham - but never had it happen in London. Excellent poem delineating those discomforts of moving through city streets.

Victoria said...

I'm so glad the prompt got you to finish this, Anna. It's such a sad reality and you are not alone in feeling shame at your revulsion. I think the whole issue of homelessness is one that scares us, knowing that this could happen to any of us. You've portrayed both characters (the man and you) so well.

Heaven said...

I feel for him in his helplessness but I also know that I will cringe away if he is invading my personal space. Good work in describing him, and your reaction to his presence ~

Dr Erhumu - twitter@drerhumu said...

Looking at the image posted, I see two pictures. Or rather, a picture within a picture. Was this deliberate?

bodhirose said...

I understand your feelings..no one should place their hands on you...rich, poor, homeless or not...and his tactics are invasive and bombarding. You brought this character (and your reaction to him)to vivid life.

manicddaily said...

A difficult situation, well told. k.

sonny said...

this was a stunning forthwith write and i really appreciate it...

i've been shooting street scenes and portraits in delhi lately and writing down my impressions and some of them so resonate with your write here

Marbles in My Pocket said...

I can relate to what your feeling. I am the same way in similar situations. The organization sounds like a good one, though. It appears they are giving people the opportunity to work their way out of their situation, and that's a good thing--better than a hand -out.
Excellent write. Very well said, and artisitc at the same time.

kaykuala said...

It's to be lauded that there are people who made it their business to help the poor! Competition may stifle the efforts. Great write Anna!

Hank

Hank

Frances Garrood said...

A very honest post! The whole irritatation/guilt thing is really difficult, especially if it's hard to know who does and does not deserve help. I know of a Big Issue seller who is reputed to have a house, and travel to his pitch by train. What does one do? The ones that REALLY madden me are the charities that send cards, personalised labels, and other "gifts" before asking for money. These offerings go straight in the bin.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Difficult area and an honest response I worked with street homeless for many years and they are a mixed bunch often psychologically damaged. At least the Big Issue keeps it from being begging

Poet Laundry said...

I know some people can just make your skin crawl--rich or poor. I get the shame at feeling bad when you know someone is in a bad spot in life but their manner is off-putting--a great capture.

kkkkaty said...

It is common courtesy to be respectful of others, especially if you are a vendor and doing business. Those who can't help their outbursts need to be under the care of the mental healthy system...but I've seen many fall through the cracks. Good job, Anna! Thank you for the comment on my blog, Anna; and so we are neighbors who think alike it seems..

kkkkaty said...

..I meant mental health, of course..

marousia said...

I hear ya - people like that irritate me too

Nara Malone said...

You paint such a clear portrait it is easy to understand the discomfort. I don't think I'd be whipping out money if I was alone and being agressively confronted that way. Too dangerous.

Fred Rutherford said...

excellent illustration of this scene. I've been approached by many homeless people before. I used to toss them change or a dollar or so if I could spare it, but one day I decided no more. I felt generous, and was being harassed by this homeless guy begging for money so he could get some food, well we were outside a local pizza place, and I said, why not, so I went inside and bought the guy a couple slices. But instead of being happy, he threw them back in my face, complaining that he can buy his own food. I felt bad but mad all at once. Yet really understood what he meant by "food" later that night, when I saw him again, coming out of a liquor store. That upset me, and as a principal I won't donate to those on the streets anymore, strictly to organizations that detail where exactly your donation is going for

Dave King said...

Their own worst enemies when they do this. I must admit I react very negatively - and then feel guilty afterwards. Harassing is now an offence, I believe - however worthy the cause.

ADDY said...

I'm right with you. There are certain ones that irritate me too and whom I would not give a penny. Yet there are others who tug at my heartstrings and I would give the world. The pushy ones turn me right off.

MorningAJ said...

It's not just Big Issue sellers. Any charity collector who shakes the tin, steps in front of me or demands, rather than requests, money gets short shrift from me!

I once bought a homeless guy a sandwich and took it back to where he was begging. The look he gave me put me off helping people.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your welcome comments folks and ajolopies for the delay in responding – PC probs and real life got in the way…

I really don’t think this man has mental health problems nor (perhaps) realises how irritating he is – probably a different culture thing – but he does drive me nuts!

It is difficult at times ‘deciding’ which beggar (for the want of a better word) is genuine and also have found that once giving I (sometimes) become a target… Gave an apparently homeless guy a fiver two Christmas’s ago and I had to change my walking route as he then expected a fiver every time I passed him…

Do donate to charities via DD but find even here I get mail asking me to double my donation…

Anna :o]