Homelessness

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I left London with a few coins (which, in the UK could mean anything from 2 pennies to 20 pounds) in my pocket, but not because I wanted to. Typically, I try to spend all my pounds before leaving England so I don't wind up with a jar full of change that I'll eventually forget about. I think I had about 3 pounds (read: over 6 bucks) of loose change that I had every intention of offering to the first peddler/beggar/homeless dude or dudess that I crossed on my way to Heathrow. But, for some reason, I never crossed one. How, in a city of over 7 million peeps can it be that in the last 24 hours not one person stopped to ask me for change - not in front of a grocery store, not on the street, not even on any of the tube stops!?

So, here I am, back in Paris with a pocket full of useless change (that I'll probably forget to bring back with me when I visit next), when who should I cross on the train to Paris at my first stop? Yep, a peddler - a violinist, actually, and get this, his SON (or some adorable little kid pretending to be his son) walks through the train, begs everyone for some coins, and what can I give him when he puts that paper cup in my face? Nada. Rien. Niente. I guess I could have opened up my pocket, pulled out a fist-full of pounds and pence and filled his cup with coins he's probably never seen before, but how rude would that be? I mean, I'd totally be pissed if I went to buy some groceries, paid with a $20 bill and was given change back in Euros. What in the hell am I supposed to do with that? So, I guess what this boils down to is if, upon leaving England, I have extra change to give away, I should convert it from Pounds to Euros before leaving the UK because, let's be honest, all the poor people live in Paris. That sucks.

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