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People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading*

Meeting people

On my way to work this morning I was approached by a man asking me if I had any spare change. Within a split second I took in his appearance, brushed him off as I would a market researcher, Gouranga person or salesperson, and kept walking. He wasn't begging (by which I mean he was just walking along the street rather than sitting wrapped in a blanket with a sign and a dog on a piece of string), and although he looked a bit scruffy I didn't think he looked like he was homeless. He was wearing a pork-pie hat, a battered leather jacket and he had a scab on his nose, as if he'd fallen over and bashed it recently.

I'm now wondering if I should have dismissed him so quickly. If he'd been sitting on the pavement with a 'hungry and homeless' sign and cute dog I wouldn't have given it a second thought, and given him some change (I had plenty of it). Because he just walked up to me on the street I immediately dismissed him, probably as I felt a little threatened. But I now feel a bit guilty - he could genuinely have been in need of change, maybe he'd lost his wallet and couldn't get home. Or maybe he was indeed homeless and just wanted a cup of tea or some cigarettes. But I was immediately on my guard, even though the encounter took place on a busy street, surrounded by lots of other commuters. If I'm honest with myself his scabby, scruffy appearance probably played a major part in the way I treated him, but I hate to think that any of my loved ones or friends were treated badly or denied help, purely because of how they looked, and Pork-Pie Hat Man is someone's son/brother/friend.

In contrast, I met a lovely old lady on Saturday in the gift shop of the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. We jointly admired the jute shopping bags they were selling, I told her that my fiance and I were thinking of getting married in the Botanics and she told me that she'd been going there regularly for 80 years, since she was two. She was well dressed, clean, very polite and sweet - I didn't back away from her or brush her off like I did Pork-Pie Hat Man...

I am in line for some baaad karma.
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At 6.4.06, Anonymous Stumpy said...

Blame it on the Hat?
Personally I'd blame it on the pork pie hat. Headgear has a lot to do with it. I sat in the doctor's waiting room yesterday & ended up in conversation with the "resident" crazy man who was wearing a very distinctive woolly hat that, although it had the name of a well known football team on it, still made him look like a pensioner terrorist. Anyhoo, he told me he was called Dr Chip Death & came from another planet where he had a wife & several elephants... In his defence he was very polite, non-threatening & I would probably say hello to him if I ever came across him again, which I could easily do if I wanted as he also gave me his home address!
So, discuss...."dodgy people pick dodgy hats, but dodgy hats aren't necessarily worn by dodgy people, perhaps they just have dodgy taste.....?"    

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*Logan Pearsall Smith

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