Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Big Ask

So, we were out for a stroll. It was a cool but sunny day. We both noticed a fellow, about a block ahead, sitting in a wheelchair, holding out a cup to passersby. It is our habit to drop what change we have into hands, or cups or caps. But, this time, as we dug in our pockets, we didn't have any change to give. It is also our habit to smile at or acknowledge in some way those who are asking for money. I refuse to make invisible those who are, often, highly visible.

As we got close we could hear him speaking to others ahead of us. His was not a gentle or kindly ask. He badgered people. When we passed I smiled at him and before I could say we had no change he said, "I don't need your fucking smile, I need money." Then he held out his leg to show that there was infection on his ankle. Whatever he said, we didn't have change on us. We kept going. There was nothing more we could figure to do or say.

Two blocks later we heard our names called, we stopped and turned around to find the grinning face of a friend of ours. After greeting each other he asked if we had been accosted by the fellow in the wheelchair asking for money. We said that we had. He told us of his encounter. The fellow asked him for some change. He, like we, also is someone who gives out change, but he had none. When said this, the man paused and said, "Well, then, can you spare a Viagra?"

We all howled.

I took great joy in pointing out that the man didn't assume that I needed Viagra! Our friend shyly admitted that he hadn't had those with him either as he hadn't anticipated using them on his walk to the store.

"Hey brother can you spare ... "

Needs are needs.


Bite Two said...

Would it be unforgivably saucy to point out that of course you don't need Viagra, you had Joe with you?

Rickismom said...

However I would bet that he assumed that as a disabbled person, you fit into the "asexual" category.

Unknown said...

Now I totally feel like going out on the streets and asking people for smiles, and if they try and give me money, saying 'I don't need MONEY!! I need SMILES'

Anonymous said...

You touched on one of my bug-a-boos. When someone sitting on a walkway (often in the way, making my passing with mobility challenges a bit difficult) and asks/demands money and I honestly don't have any, or need what I have, and then I become the butt of their abuse, it really ticks me. It seems that if I can acknowledge the person with respect and a smile, why can't they be accepting that I am unable to help at this time. I am under no obligation to help, to drop funds into any outreached cup. I like to give where I can, but it doesn't always work as I wait for my disability funds. Abuse is abuse. Obviously taking care of the leg was not his priority, he had "other needs". Reminded me of working in the prison where inmates would purposely let some problem continue to exist so they could continue to get medication and "sympathy". Sigh. Some times it feels like you can never get it right.

Unknown said...

Ok, I would have called for an ambulance and police so the guy could get medical care. Then, in a different note, as an aficionado of wheelchair seating systems, I always want to ask people sitting in oversized chairs they could never push, where their car is, or what time the van from the nursing home picks them up. And once, looking like an easy mark pulling my daughters wheelchair out of the trunk, after an especially exasperating and discriminatory Voc Rehab encounter, a double amputee rolled up asking for money. Lost my sh*t, I did. "Get a damn job and quit making us all look bad.