Thursday, September 15, 2005

The 'Big Issue' Seller

It isn’t really the done thing to have a go at Big Issue sellers. It was a great idea to give the homeless and down and out an opportunity to earn a few quid, and not have to resort to begging. Evan if they did spend the dosh on cider and crack, at least they got the cash to do so legitimately.

The problem these days is that some of the sellers are basically engaged in a form of aggressive, coercive panhandling. A hard eyeballing, and pushy “Big Issue Sir?”, are enough to have some people coughing up cash rather than stare at their shoes. They’re not contributing to the welfare of a homeless person; they’re paying up just to get away from the bastard.

Of course in genuine cases of homelessness it’s a perfectly legitimate activity, and a degree of urgency in attempting to sell the magazine is understandable. It’s just that some of them aren’t homeless, and appear to have decided that they can make a career out of sponging off other people’s sense of social embarrassment.

My local town is a major tourist centre. During the period from Easter until late October the place is teeming with visitors. There are consequently jobs galore: a fact testified to by the legions of Aussies, Kiwis, and Poles, serving in hotels, bars and restaurants.

Despite the ample employment opportunities, we have a resident Big Issue seller who is permanently stationed outside W H Smith. I am sick to the back teeth of walking past him and being regaled to buy a copy. He seems like a perfectly personable individual who could quite easily secure and keep a job.

I don’t know, perhaps he has personal difficulties, or has some psychological dependency on the activity which once, presumably, saved him from the gutter. Then again, he might just be an IDLE, SPONGING, SKIVING, MALINGERING BASTARD.


Herge Smith said...

I'm always very polite when I decline a copy of the Big Issue. But then I am generally polite anyway.

As for the Big Issue seller, I think they do a valuable job taking up space on the pavement. I've occasionally bought a copy of the Big Issue but I've never met anyone else that has. Who buys it other than me?

And more importantly, what happened to all those sad sexless miss guided pale, gaunt youths that used to sell the Socialist Worker (or something)?

garfer said...

It's not just the Big Issue sellers taking up space on the pavement, it's the bleedin' charity collectors shaking their rattly tins under your nose. And the Sally Army.
The Socialist Worker youths must have grown up, got jobs, or joined the Young Farmers or summat.
I haven't seen any of the Hare Krishna 'free lunch' loonies about either. Maybe the questionaire takers have beaten them off the streets.

Merkin said...

Top Tip. Always look them in the eye and say "got one, thanks mate". No middle class embarrassing silence, and the satisfaction of successful lying to a (possibly) sponging malingering layabout.

MHN for short said...

Then again, he might just be an IDLE, SPONGING, SKIVING, MALINGERING BASTARD.

That's what I was thinking... Agagin, you are reading my mind...scary. :-)

Sniffy said...

You could always try the Pauline Campbell Jones approach and ask them to "beg you" to buy a copy. "Come on, beg like a little doggy"

Or why not ask what's in the issue, or better still, have a flick through their copy to have a look at the content before making the decision as to whether you want to purchase it? After all, that's what any normal person would do at a news stand, so why the difference with the Big Issue? I find its content is usually pretty piss poor.

Alex M said...

I buy it once in a while, but if the seller is a pushy bastard it puts me right off, as it would with anything else - magazines to motor cars.

Wyndham said...

I kind of miss the old lady Sally Army people, all dressed up in their little uniforms. At least they made the effort, the Big Issue sellers never seem to be wearing a suit and tie which is shocking, and the chuggers are worse, dressed up like students. I've made it one of my life's aims never to give students money and they expect me to hand over my direct debits details, cheeky bastards!

garfer said...

I sometimes buy one at Christmas.
Hand them a pound and say: "buy yerself a pint with that son".

Rowan said...

sounds like a smart cookie! I mean, whats your excuse as you push past to the book store, I don't read? Obviously you are looking for something to read. Man knows his market. Canada should get these guys happening, maybe our homeless would be more legit (we have lots) toronto just had those squeegy kids, but I think they are gone now...eradicated, not sure. I'd buy a magazine, I think.

Rowan said...

Oooh! and as a Salvationist myself, yes, it is a disgusting shame that the congregation no longer buys the uniform (as you may not be aware, it is church attire)and that they are trying to accomodate to a youth style that suggests you no longer should dress for church, ooooh makes me so mad.

Iain said...

"I am sick to the back teeth of walking past him..." Why not stop and talk to him next time?