I had a very upsetting confrontation with a man on the street this morning. I work in central London, close to the St Martin in the Field’s homeless shelter. For that reason, and because homelessness is generally more prevalent London than the rest of the UK, there are often homeless people on the streets during the day.
I went out to get a coffee for myself and my colleague this morning. I was carrying them in a cardboard carrier back to the office. As I walked past a homeless man asleep on the street, another man approached me. He said ‘ You are selfish’. I responded, ‘Excuse me, you don’t know me’. The man repeated what he had to say and walked off, carrying his shopping bags, not giving anything himself to the homeless man.
Obviously this was an upsetting experience. I do what I need to do to help society and make it a better place. And I always want to do more.
But I think the bigger issue here is that people are angry about homelessness, and the idea that in a wealthy, developed city, it exists. Angry enough to approach a stranger and issue a verbal attack. Hmmm. Perhaps he was just an angry man. But it left me feeling very uneasy.