the other day i hopped on the bus to make my way home from a library shift. somewhere before the subway, an old man stepped on, and he was visibly shaken. he turned to the woman seated one away from him, and said (through a very thick accent) something like: "my wife died". tears came to his eyes. the woman, who had been in the process of putting her earphones in, paused and said: "i'm sorry, i don't understand you", and the man, probably not understanding her, just shook his head and wiped at his eyes.
i watched the whole proceeding and then started feeling really guilty so i walked over, sat next to him, and said, "i'm really sorry about that". he mumbled something about, "my wife died. sri lanka, no money to go home for the funeral". his accent was rather thick so it was difficult to understand him, i repeated "i'm sorry". then i smelled the booze. or rather, since my ace training working for public libraries has honed my alcohol-related olfactory skills, i smelled what was more like rubbing alcohol or listerine. then he asked me for $20. i (politely) said no. the bus had pulled up to the subway at this point, and i told him that i hoped things get better and to take care, he followed me for a bit and reduced the price to $10, then $1.
so i'm kind of torn. my sappy side feels for the poor dude, but at the same time, i can't help thinking that it was a right proper scam, and that i'm a foolio. should i have given him some money? i don't know. i feel that working at my branch has inured me to my (possibly romanticized) notions of the poor and poverty. i kind of think that there's laziness at every stratum of society. so it's kind of a matter of luck whether you happen to be born lazy poor or lazy rich. at the same time, my experience working in restaurants, where we had dishwashers who had just come from sri lanka, working three jobs to support their families (both here and abroad), and getting paid cash under the table, makes me feel slightly less sympathetic to some of the poor and disenfranchised who come and hang out at my branch. does that make me an a**hole? i don't know. i just see some of the regular welfare recipients at my branch and i'm like, dude, you're not even trying. and you're what gives our social support system a bad name, meanwhile, suthan at canoe works 15 hours at two jobs with some crazy work ethic, to send money back to his home. i have way more sympathy for suthan, and generally very little sympathy for able-bodied people bilking the government for work-free cash (situational contingencies obviously apply here).
topic change alert: today should be semi-fun. i'm meeting my friend for our semi-regular lunch date at st. lawrence for some of those awesome eggplant sammies (fun!). then coming home and devoting a big chunk of time to stats (not fun!). then we're probably going out for dinner with some of the roomie's friends (fun!) and going dancing at octopus (very fun!!!). or, i might meet some of my friends here, and rendezvous with roomie et al at the octopus. so i'm not sure at all what i'm having for dinner, it's in someone else's hands! how exciting/terrifying. if i do stay home, it'll be leftovers.