Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Shoeshine guy


I was having coffee and thinking and drawing dumb stuff and he came in again and asked me for something to eat and drink. He was speaking really fast, so I said to the waitress it was okay and she could give him whatever he asked for to eat. But because I didn't get the part he asked for something to drink, they thought I'd only pay for food. So he came to the table and asked if it was okay if he got a Coke, instead of food. I told him he was welcome to get something to eat as well. I asked him if I could take a picture of him. He's 18, he lives on the streets and he polishes shoes (BRL 3.00). So I took the pictures, showed them to him and thanked him. He said he thought he looked good on them, thanked me and left.

I'm not telling the story because I want you to think how nice of me it was to pay for stuff, or because I wanted to do it so I wouldn't feel guilty for not doing enough to help the situation as a whole (except for voting, I guess). I wanted to tell this story because to some people, having what to eat and what to drink seems like something impossible. I wonder if there are people who would only pay for one or the other, as if it is asking too much if a person asks for something to drink and something to eat. I know for sure there are people who wouldn't have paid for anything.

Of course charity is not the answer to social problems, and inequality - which I believe is the main reason why we have people in Brazil living like this - won't just go away, but then I wasn't thinking about it. I was thinking about this person, Anderson, and wondered why *he* got to be homeless. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to lecture you. Anyway, these are people almost no one cares about and they, like Beth Marcos and I, live in São Paulo.


Blogger dutchie said...

I think you did the right thing. I must say it depends a bit on my mood whether or not i give something, but in general i think anyone could get homeless due to circumstances you can hardly influence and some really have more bad luck than others and simply cannot get out of their situation.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

i imagine for him to ask a stranger for something, needs a lot of courage and dignity..its not wrong to ask for help :) Good post!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Well done!! a little kindness goes along way,hey, maybe one day it could be one of us, or one of our children!!Thumbs up to you.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another positive vote from me too. I just can't imagine not wanting to help. We have this massive problem in the Canary Islands with boats arriving from Africa all the time. They have to be desperate, but they are doing something to attempt to help themselves. That alone deserves some respect. The news is all "shock horror, illegal immigrants", of course, but I keep thinking they are human and what they need is help and love. Perhaps that is the answer: if we did all do something to help one person who needs it, the problem could be beaten.

5:04 PM  
Blogger chris.h. said...

very sad story but a great post---you did the right thing-and your obviously a good person..I'm the same as dutchie-depends what sort of mood they catch me in although being homeless is one of my biggest fears.

7:48 PM  
Blogger paradise said...

i do the same thing. if a homeless person comes up to me asking for food, i'd pitch in a couple of bucks to get them a meal. my friend always says to me, "you can't save the world" but i figure, no, but i can help this guy with his hunger for today. you did the right thing. what a nice post to remind us to never take certain basic things like food and shelter for granted.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

Life for all of us is relative, how sorry are the rich not to be richer, how lucky the poor not to be poorer. Some of the happiest people I have met live in Brazil, and some, not all, own little more than the holes in their clothes. I once thought the poverty in South America was a consequence of Latin mentality cum Catholicism (and maybe it is in part) but Hernando de Soto's "Mystery of Capitalism" cleared some things up for me.

8:00 PM  
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