Beg­gars be­lief

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

‘‘Got a dol­lar for the bus?’’ It ap­pears such begs-bor­der­ing-on-de­mands an­noy, of­fend or pos­si­bly even in­tim­i­date many of us in Porirua on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Now, of course, I’m not talk­ing about be­ing ap­proached by an im­pov­er­ished child, cap in hand like Oliver Twist.

It’s kids, teenagers – of­ten in groups – who strate­gi­cally po­si­tion them­selves near an ATM, train sta­tion or su­per­mar­ket, and go to ‘‘work’’. There is con­cern that this sort of beg­ging un­der false pre­tence is in­creas­ing, and as re­ported in Kapi-Mana News last week, a by­law is be­ing con­sid­ered by Porirua City Coun­cil and po­lice. The ar­ti­cle has hit a chord with many read­ers.

I’ve re­ceived sev­eral emails and phone calls from folks sick and tired of be­ing ac­costed on the street or at the train sta­tion, while on­line the ar­ti­cle has re­ceived over 60 com­ments – eas­ily a record for one of our sto­ries.

There has been some pretty heated re­marks, but some thought­ful ones too.

I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the anal­ogy to buskers, who – whether we ap­pre­ci­ate it or not – of­fer us a skill in re­turn for our in­vest­ment. One reader even points the fin­ger at those who give in to the beg­gars, fu­elling the fire. For the most part, beg­gars – like tele­mar­keters at din­ner-time and door-knock­ing do­good­ers on Satur­day morn­ing – are an an­noy­ance, but I ap­pre­ci­ate shop­keep­ers don’t want their clien­tele both­ered – or worse, choos­ing to go else­where.

Packs of teens prey­ing on folks at the ATM ma­chine, like dogs wait­ing for a sausage out­side the butch­ery, is not the stuff award-win­ning cities are made of.

A city doesn’t want to be known for its beg­gars, but I’d imag­ine it also doesn’t want to be known for hav­ing to have an anti-beg­ging by­law ei­ther.

Still, if mem­bers of the pub­lic are in­deed made to feel in­tim­i­dated by these grov­ellers, then a new strat­egy needs to be ac­tioned. The find­ings of coun­cil and po­lice into the ex­tent of the prob­lem will make in­ter­est­ing read­ing.

I just find it ter­ri­bly sad that we have young peo­ple in our city whose self-worth is so bro­ken – or poorly formed – that the no­tion of beg­ging for cash fails to trig­ger a lit­tle voice in their con­science that says, ‘‘I’m too good for this’’.

If they’re pre­pared to for­sake their pride for a gold coin, what does their fu­ture hold?

Scour­ing rub­bish bins for cig­a­rettes that haven’t been smoked down to the fil­ter?

The only ker­nel of op­ti­mism I can find in all this, mis­guided it may be, is in the kids who hang around the money ma­chines.

If they re­ally think some­one is go­ing to part with a crisp new $20 note be­cause they mum­bled some­thing about want­ing it, they best ride that bus back to delu­sionville. Matthew Dal­las


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