So this is going to be a rant against the more unfortunate of this world. Rabid socialist attack dogs, look away now. ^_~ Just joking. Please, delve into a pet peeve of mine.
I remember the first time I was ever approached by a beggar. I was in year 10, wandering down along Lonsdale St. with Yi after hitting Hobby Japan for my usual end-of-term fix of 7 video tapes worth of Anime. ( one tape a day was a pretty good ration for me back in those days ) In those heady days of innocence ( HA! ) when the beggar in question asked me if I had spare change for her bus fare, I thought nothing of giving her a couple of dollars and moving on. Clearly within earshot, Yi whispered to me that the woman was a beggar and I'd just been scammed to which I replied "That's alright, I would've only spent that money on pointless crap." or something along those lines. Far too much pointless crap, bumps on the head & liquor imbibed have erased the exact words I used from my memory banks.
But since then... well I wouldn't say that I've encountered every single person in Melbourne who begs on a regular basis, but I reckon that I've seen more than my fair share of pan-handlers. Keep in mind here people that I worked full time for two & a half years at a café right smack bang middle of the Melbourne Central Business District. With not a small number of outdoor tables and a fairly high turnover given how it was on such a busy thorough-fare to the Flinders station. I can say with complete honesty that I have seen every single beggar which bargains, fake charity donations, palm-reading, busking, and in lieu of any of those just plains begs along that stretch. Hell, I've even encountered some of them in other areas of the city and I still give them the same death-glare. ... Ok, when I was working I would tell them to politely go improve their carnal relations with their close relatives. Or something along those lines.
Now, by now there would be a few who would say "Who are you to pick on them? These are the homeless! The less fortunate than you! You at least had a job, they had nothing!" You could argue this certainly. And if they were using the money to help survive and eventually get a step up from the dredges of society and life that they were existing upon, then by all means I would have given them a free pass to harass, intimidate and irritate the general public which made up my customers. Here's the kicker. At that time, my then-girlfriend worked at the liquor store on the OTHER side of the block from that café. And every single pauper which I identified she could immediately tell me that they'd been into that particular liquor store to booze it up. Throw in the ... less savoury, recreational substance suppliers that I knew around also giving me the same information with a near-exact tone of derision in their voice, suffice to say... these people were not about getting themselves out of the rut they had delved into.
Then back in 2006, there was the Commonwealth Games. Leading up to such a hideously busy event, with the city filled to the brim through tourists, athletes, support staff and so on, the Melbourne City Council went into a complete and utter clean-up. Streets were picked over until there was only the hideous concrete & asphalt left. Signs were put up. Advertisements on television telling residents to be clean & pick up after themselves & others were blasted time and time again... And the beggars were booted out of the Central Business District. Fined, put away for awhile.Despite the general craziness of the city, it was rather nice for a change not to be hassled every hundred meters or so for "spare change".
But that was two years ago. And what do we have now? Numbers are back up again, even higher if some people are to be believed. I suspect the tabloid shows like ACA or Today Tonight's so-called reports that it's the rising property prices & mortgage rates which are causing such an influx of homeless people. Probably a number of them certainly, but not the sheer rampant numbers which I'm encountering. Want to know where I last encountered so many beggars? New York City. Not quite as many mental patients released upon the streets, but with the way health care is in this country, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.
What set me off on this rant? A beggar on the tram. Public transport now gets it's own free vermin-infest, clearly still crashing down off their high ( Dilated pupils, physical ticks, unsteady gait, etc.), paupers to shove one hand in your face whilst you mind your own business whilst they death-grip what change they have in their other hand. Well, in this case it wasn't a death grip as such. It was a nervous tick of shaking hand which jingled the $2 coins against each other. I've heard a few women complain about being hit on whilst they ride public transport. Now throw in beggars into the mix, is it small wonder that some people avoid public transport in Melbourne like the plague?
On a side note, I've heard rumours to the tune that the Melbourne CBD will now be called CAD: Central Activities District. By all that is unholy & lodged in a colon, do they SERIOUSLY expect to be able to get away with that? First in my recollected history they changed Museum Station to Melbourne Central Station. Ok, I could accept that at the time. Then there was Spencer Station which was turned into Southern Cross station just in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. GRAH! What the hell does that floating constellation of space dust & lights in the sky have ANYTHING to do with Melbourne, let alone a train station? FAGH! The whole bunch of the city council are cads, buffoons and imbeciles, the whole lot of them!
Well I suppose you've got enough of a face full of vitriol this afternoon. So that'll be all for now.
This is your general cynic of the world signing off.