Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Quality of Australian Beggars

It's about time someone came out and said it. The quality of many big city beggars has fallen away drastically and now leaves a lot to be desired. On the London underground, or Oxford Street Sydney, they come with hands held, "Excuse me mate, Can you spare a dollar?" No, I can't. You look fine to me. You're well dressed, well spoken, you don't seem malnourished or incapacitated in any way. "No, I cannot give you a dollar that I worked for just because you asked."

I don't think these people have really thought about begging as a career, they don't seem committed to it, they seem more like hobbyist beggars, or part time beggars. Maybe they're casual beggars who only work peak hours or when it suits.

Now in India, there you have world class begging. There's a guy without legs on a skateboard who has to staple his balls to the deck of his board to keep his balance. He only has one working arm and he uses it to drag himself forward and each time he does his other arm wags behind him like the tail of a dog. And he can't speak. Now this man I am going to cross the street to give a dollar to. This man has thought about what he has to use in this world and what he can do with it and begging seems a natural fit. He has the prerequisites to ask anyone he wants for a dollar.

In Sydney Australia, right at the top of Oxford street, there sits a guy who looks like he's twenty one of twenty two. He's there almost everyday, smiling, asking in a very nice voice if people can spare some change. And he's cute, he looks like a younger version of James Franco. What right does this guy have to be a career beggar and make us cynics to all other beggars?

"But Scott," you say, "He may have some other problem. He may have been in some kind of accident and suffered a brain injury."

I still believe, if you're good looking, you speak well and suffer from brain damage there are plenty of other career options open to you without resorting to begging - TV journalism for instance.

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