Big Issue

October 5, 2011 4:02pm Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 12 Comments

Why, oh why is it that every time I go into the city centre I am accosted by people wanting something? I have come into town to either shop, have a coffee and stare at the wonderment that is humankind or go on an appointment or junket.
I am beginning to wonder if I have ‘gullible bint’ printed somewhere upon me that these people hone in on and I am starting to recognise the benefits of a Burka or hoody.
“Big Issue?”  
“No thanks” I say with a smile “I have enough of my own”
“Got a quid or so for a coffee, I ‘ant ‘ad a drink all day”  said the puppy eyed man, his rolled up, dog-eared Big Issue shaking in his hand.
GUILT. Now I felt horrible; in fact evil, selfish and thoughtless. I went into my purse and gave him £1.50.
Ten minutes later (and I’m probably over exaggerating here, it felt more like seconds) I turned the corner and out popped another one in front of me like a jack in the box. I am convinced  the previous seller of this magazine had radioed in giving him my description.
“Big Issue? Please, I’ve got loads to sell” He begged.
“But I’ve just…ugh…right give me a magazine”  I took the paper and gave him the money.
“I don’t s’pose you’ve got any spare change for a drink…”  he continued.
“No, I gave it to your mate round the corner”  And off I went with the Big Issue sticking out of my bag in plain view for all the other Big Issue sellers to notice.
A short while later as I was admiring the artful arrangement of clothing on the mannequin in Karen Millen’s window and wondering if I had a chance in hell of looking as good as that undersized, breastless, childlike plastic model, I spotted a bright red T shirt in my peripheral vision.  I made the mistake of turning around instead of darting deftly into the shop.
“HEY – HOW YA DOING?!  Shopping? “ enthused the curly haired, Tigger- like University student.
“No, no.  I just came out to meet people and give them money”  I retorted.
(Nervous laugh) “ Funny, yeah, that’s cool, can you give me a few minutes, won’t be long, seriously, you look like the kind of person who’d help us, only £3.00 a month, though you can give more, if you would we’d appreciate it and I’ll give you a free badge, it’s gonna make such a difference to the environment” he said without drawing breath.
Not wanting to refuse a free badge so that everyone knew I was at one with planet Earth sold it to me.  Well, that was my excuse for signing on the dotted line along with losing the will to live.
At this point I felt like marching into the town square and emptying my purse in the middle and shouting “FREE FOR ALL” at the top of my voice.  This would surely be easier and less time consuming.  I decided that I needed to appear more assertive and slightly chilly; adopt a ‘Diva- esque –don’t- even -THINK- you- can- talk -to- me’ cold front that people could sense from 3 feet away.  I looked at my reflection in the shop window and practised my mean stare, even the mannequin flinched, I’m sure of it. 
I marched forward purposefully, shoulders back, menacing look in place, although it was more of a squint as it was particularly sunny.  I needed sunglasses.  I reached into my bag and put my sunglasses on and this was where I made my first mistake.  
“ Excuse me…we are doing some research on a new packet of crisps, could you spare a few minutes?” said the slightly mousy, verging on helpless, middle aged lady. 
“Seriously?  Is there a conspiracy against me or something?  Do you know how many times I’ve been stopped today?  I haven’t even made it to the end of the street and back.  I really don’t have the time, I’m sorry, I’m ever so busy and this sort of thing is just making me start to hate people unnecessarily”  I griped.
The Lady looked as fragile as a lame kitten and I could feel myself beginning to crumble.  She didn’t look like a ‘people person’ who was used to being in the face of the public, all toothy smiles and sales talk. Perhaps she had been forced into this pitiful position as her husband had lost his job in the recession. Maybe she was a single parent and this job was her only salvation and means of putting something from Iceland on the table to feed her family.  Perhaps she was on the verge of suicide or doing a ‘Shirley Valentine’ and my refusal to partake could just tip her over the edge.
“You’ll get a free packet of crisps” she ventured meekly.
Well whoopie- doo.  What could I say?  I left the city without my usual coffee, no change for the car park and nothing to show for the hours I’d been there except my virtuous character.  
The problem is I feel awful if I say no.  Big Issue helps the homeless and is in fact an interesting read. I do care about my planet, whales, ill treated animals, children in need and the starving millions and I also understand that people are just trying to do their job.  However, I am unable to give my money to everyone ( as my bank manager will verify when I asked him for a partial default on my bank loan recently) my time is usually limited and quite frankly I’d like to be left alone to choose, by free will, which charities I donate to. What a dilemma this is.


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Emotional Blackmail!! They will bleed you dry of every penny in your purse, they would happilly have you set up a direct debit for all the money you have worked so hard to earn, in short they are greedy little shits!…….Then you pick up your bag grab your coat and leave the family to venture in to the city to face the Big Issue sellers!! Love the Blog Jules, keep ’em coming. Theresa xx
A few seconds ago · Like

This reminds me of an obscure line of verse about an Indian goddess:

“Like beams of moonlight, she showers rays of compassion from her eyes”

You must have eyes light that, Juliette. The downside is that it costs you money!

This is something you will never stop doing. At least, I haven’t – but I have become more efficient. Before leaving the house, I stuff money in my pockets. Thus, I don’t have to fumble in my purse when approached. Makes the hand-off quicker and the get-a-way faster. 😉

I’ve been complaining about the exact same thing today! How weird is that?! Considering I live like 12000km’s away. We don’t have people selling “The Big Issue” – just hoards of beggers… EVERYWHERE. And just today, while having a late lunch because I had nothing all day, some kid came to ask me for a donation (while I was eating my lunch)… and it just so happened that I didn’t have any cash on me (I used my debit card) so I told him “sorry, next time”, and he looked at me and then at my sandwich with utter disgust and I felt HORRID!! Still do. But there’s only SO much I can give y’know. And they’re everywhere… *sigh*

We don’t have a Big Issue here (or at least we don’t admit it by publishing anything (: ) I am compelled to help children and elderly, but I’m afraid I’m a bit of a heartless cow if I’m asked by anyone who appears able bodied. You have a big heart and unfortunately… there’s not much you can do about it. You’re horrible really. :p

When I lived in Vancouver I had people stop me every day too. It does get tiring after awhile. I’m sure it is because you have kind look on your face, because you are kind!

Guaranteed payday loans are accessible there to help you out with guaranteed cash and you can utilize guaranteed unsecured loans until your next payday.

Theresa- tell I how it is my friend! Maybe I should go to town with you!

Mr Gorilla Bananas- What a lovely verse. I’m surprised the accordion player didn’t start singing it as I passed by! You’re probably right and I should keep sunglasses on continually.

Beth- we must never shop together! Or, maybe we should as we can take it in turns to donate therefore spending less!

Azra- maybe there’s a conspiracy against us both?! Yes that would have put me off my sandwich! You should be able to eat your lunch in peace without torment.

Angie- you’re on to me! Damn! I am actually pure evil – he he he!

Belle- I’m going out dressed as a clown next time. They tend to scare people.

Guaranteed payday loans- well here is the answer to all my prayers. A loan shark to lend me more money to give away in abundance! Can you lend me 50k at 0% interest over the next say, ooh, 40 years? What? No? Ah, well we had such a brief encounter payday.

“No, no. I just came out to meet people and give them money” I retorted.



If you are a normal female of the species, you have a heart. There is no way of getting around your tendency to care for people, especially the children and the infirmed.

It’s a fact: the homeless (and the seeming homeless) are everywhere. Here in DC I must travel through a dozen souls before I get to my place of work. After seven years, its hard to fool me. How is it that someone who is asking for hand-outs is wearing brand new trainers (even if the rest of him looks nackered)? And what about last week when I saw that same person duck around a corner to make a call…on his cell phone? And there’s more! Down the street on the way to lunch, there is a guy who regularly sits on the corner in his wheel chair and begs. One day, on my way to lunch, there was no body on that side of the street. This bastard got up out of his wheelchair, pushed it to the other side, sat back down, and started to beg…again.

I read a national study of some kind or other a few years back. It stated that the average “professional” begger could make 25,000 dollars a year working ten hours a day. Does that make you feel like you have been had? The fact is, they play on your compassion, your honesty AND the nurturing characteristic in women. They have the psychological angle down pat and they are way ahead of the average citizen.

There is no getting around it. You need to harden your heart a little. But you can do this: decide how much of your income will go to charity. Decide who will get it, doesn’t matter who. Make sure that giving that amount and who you give it to gives you the “biggest bang for your buck (quid).” That means that it must make you feel good or it’s a waste. After that-stick to it! No matter how bad they try and make you feel, you know you care and that you give according to your means.


Clark – Thank you, though I don’t think he thought so! Ah, well guess he got what he wanted.

Dean – Well I’ve never been called a normal female, so that could be the problem! You are right, I once gave a homeless man money for a coffee and then watched him go across the street to the slot machines and pull out a wad of cash! I was so incensed I nearly mugged him!
$25,000 a year! Right, thats me with my accordion, flat cap and lame dog out on the streets tomorrow! I think I’ll get away with it as my trainers are as scruffy as hell!

Hi, Juliette.

I work in downtown Minneapolis, and for the first year or so I was regularly accosted for money. And I regularly gave! But I think something has changed in my face — or perhaps the homeless now recognize me as someone who no longer gives. I drop dollars for the street musicians if they’re any good, but I’m done handing out change to people asking for “bus fare” only to overhear them asking a half dozen people after me for that same fare…


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