Had a slightly freaky run-in with a down-and-out yesterday evening.
Was sat outside a pub with bandmates pre-practice. We're all chatting away when suddenly this short, scruffy, middle-aged guy with a carrier bag sidles up and asks one of our group for money, saying that he's hungry. My friend says "Sorry, mate", as you do, and normally that would be the end of it...except this time it wasn't.
The guy gets a bit agitated and says something like "You speaking for the rest of them, are you?". My friend shrugs and replies "Pretty much, yeah", but the guy asks the rest of us anyway. When we all refuse, he starts going "Why?! Why won't you help me? Why?!" in a raised voice, not being threatening exactly but creating an uncomfortable situtation. I just stare at him, unsure of what to do or say. Eventually another member of our group says "It's our choice" and the guy shuffles off, mumbling.
The experience made me think about my attitude towards the homeless, assuming this guy was one, and why my default response is not to give money. I don't want to be one of those people who use the excuse "Oh, well, they'll only go and spend it on drugs/booze" to be stingy...if I was on the streets I'd probably get drunk off my arse to block out the cold/boredom...and if someone has sunk to the point where they have to beg from strangers then let them spend it how they wish.
I guess my overall view is that the whole issue needs to be addressed...donating to one person on one day isn't going to make any difference to the grand scheme of things. However, if I'm not going to get involved in politics then I'm, essentially, just another person who walks past, avoiding eye contact.
Please share your thoughts/eperiences. Do you give money, food, or nothing, and why?