There’s this guy in Dublin (usually to be seen on Henry St.) who sits on the ground with jacket over legs, barefooted, shivering and crying. Having had a number of encounters with him, I have come to learn that he is acting. And, to give him his due, he’s a very good actor at that. In fact, so much so, that not only do people give him money (often in notes), they also go into a shop and buy him gloves, shoes, blankets, etc.

Today, as I walked past him, I told him that he might be more successful (i.e., make more money) if he became an actor because he is very talented. He sneered at me, knowing I know his little secret. Anyway, as I passed, I happened to look back and caught sight of a woman giving him money and a scarf from a bag.

As I entered the Jervis Centre shopping mall, I noticed the young woman behind me. Feeling sorry she’d been conned, and with the intention of marking her card, I asked her if I could tell her something. She gave me permission. This is how the short conversation went…

“Maybe you’d like to know that the guy you just gave that money and scarf to is just acting. He doesn’t – ”

“I don’t care,” she said loudly, cutting over me. “It makes me feel good helping the poor.”

“Sure,” I said. “I understand that. I’m just telling you that he isn’t poor. He’s acting. It’s a scam.”

Speeding up to get away, she turned and said, “I don’t want to know the truth. If it makes me feel good, that’s all that matters.”

“Hey no sweat,” I said. “As long as you know you are deluding yourself…”

She was lost in the crowd. I’m certain she didn’t hear me.

I think she managed, in her last comment, to sum up the truth for so many people. I don’t think I’d have believed anyone would have said what she said had I not heard it with my own ears. But I do believe I have a better understanding of people now, and don’t feel too much better for it.

© 2011 Wordwurst