Friday, July 12, 2013

More precious than gold

You may have seen Bear stumbling around town. In his 50s he looks older as he weaves his way precariously from bench to bench. His clothes are stained and dirty; his body odour is ripe. 

He's sitting at a table in Zac's when I arrive. He struggles to get to his feet and signals that he'd like me to go outside with him. We stand just outside the doorway and he begins to tell his tale of money woes. My heart drops: I fear he's going to ask me for money. (An unwritten rule: we hand out clothes and food but not money.)

His benefit's been changed and his landlord is threatening to evict him because he hasn't been paying his rent. He looks sorrowful then he says, 'So I haven't got any money. I can't put anything in the kitty.'
I smile broadly and pat him on the shoulder. 'Don't worry about that. Yo don't have to.'
'But I feel bad not having anything to put in.'
'We're just pleased to have you here.'
'You know if I had it I'd put a tenner in.'

And I do know: he has done so. Some things are more valuable than money.

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