Monday, June 22, 2009

A morale dilemma?

Had an "encounter" earlier this morning, as I was making my way to the office for work. I was trudging along the rather crowded walkway near the Raffles Place MRT, my mind still a 'blank' - which is normally the case, as I've yet to fully wake-up yet, at this stage =P - when out of the blue, this ah pek stopped me in my tracks and asked me, "Do you speak English, Mister?".

I was a little taken aback. Firstly, as mentioned, I was not really in an alert state of mind early in the morning. Secondly, to be suddenly stopped in the middle of the path by a stranger is seldom a very welcoming feeling (well, unless that "stranger" happens to be an attractive looking lady, then perhaps.. hahaha). And lastly, he spoke pretty decent English! * this ah pek dressed like any other of those uncles who'd frequent the neighbourhood coffeeshops. Those you'd normally try Hokkien as a first attempt at any conversation*

After the momentary shock, I replied a tentative, "ya....."

And he said, "Can you give me some money for coffee or tea? I havent had breakfast...."

At that point, I did contemplate just reaching for my wallet, and fishing out a $2 note and hand it to him. Afterall, $2 isn't a lot to most of us, and should be sufficient for a simple breakfast of tea and eggs (maybe). But then, my "Singaporean" (cold, logical and most importantly, "just-follow-law") persona took over, and I thought, "this ah pek doesnt seem to have any sort of disability, handicap and certainly doesn't look ill. Furthermore, he's not asking for a bus fare home, which would seem a better reason to ask for help from strangers on the road. He's asking to be given money to be fed. Shouldn't his relatives be doing that? And isn't what he's doing tentamount to begging - which by the way, is an illegal act in Singapore."

Within those 2 split seconds, I retracted my hand and shook my head in a curt manner, before walking away briskly. I dared not look back.

As I continued walking, my mind was swimming with thoughts of, "why didnt' you just give him some money?"

But then, that would not be right either, since I'd be "encouraging" betting - in a way. Not to mention, it's not as if he's a disabled person or something, cos he sure looked pretty fit and healthy to me....

Hmm... should I or shouldn't I?


Blogger Yen said...

I would have done what you did too. Think it's something we've been "taught" - never encourage these beggars, especially if they look like they are healthy enough to work.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Owls said...

Usually I'd give la. There was once one came over to get 5 bucks. I gave him 5, he said thanks, walked away and came back in 10 secs, asking for 10 dollars as he needs it for dinner too!

Hahahah =)

3:47 PM  
Blogger 北海道的大黑熊 said...

Hmm..Owls- seems like your experience has proved Yen right. Giving them some $ will only serve to "encourage" them to ask for more.

I was in two minds actually. Would probably had passed him the money, but at that instant, I was suddenly feeling self-conscious that other passer-bys were looking at us, and I decided to adopt the more 'standard' Spore behaviour - just a shake of head and walk away briskly.

Not too sure what would have been "right" or "wrong", but i did feel a little bit guilty, thinking about it later.

9:34 PM  
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