14 December 2017

Misunderstanding

He shuffled into the Oxfam shop. Lean, with bloodshot eyes and a salt and pepper beard, he was well wrapped up but I recognised him as the homeless man who is often seen sitting on his haunches outside the bank at Hunter's Bar roundabout. Before the Conservative Party took a hold of  this great nation's government we never saw any homeless people in south west Sheffield which has always been a pretty affluent area.

I was adding more books to the shelves. He came into the heart of the shop and asked me a question. "Av ye gorreny ******?" The last word was lost on me. I thought he was saying "clothes".

"Yes sir. Over here. We've got shirts, jumpers, trousers, jackets. What are you looking for?"
I could smell stale alcohol on his breath.

"No, not ******, I want ******!"

And then I thought he was saying "cloves", imagining that he was planning to make mulled wine. It seemed unlikely but I said "I think you'll be able to get some cloves in Sainsburys - just up the road!"

"No, not ******, I want ******! Dunt anybody speak Inglish in ere?" he slurred. "Spect  you can all talk African. I want ******!"

And then a female customer piped up with, "I think he's saying gloves!"

The homeless man was relieved. "Yeah! Yeah! ****** (gloves). That's what I want but they av to be real cheap. Bout a quid. Me 'ands are that cold and I brock this 'un in the summer. I can't feel it."

I looked in the basket where gloves are normally displayed but there weren't any. I apologised and he went on his way probably thinking he'd just been talking to a moron. Perhaps I should get my hearing checked. In the meantime I am going to see if I can find him some old gloves and take them down to Hunters Bar as an early Christmas gift. He'll probably say "No! Not ******! I wanted ******!"

16 comments:

  1. Good job he didn't want fork handles.

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    1. This year I bought some cards from The Dove House Hospice in Hull showing four garden fork handles with burning candles affixed... "Four Candles"/"Fork Handles"

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  2. It's a rare post by anyone that can make me tear up and laugh in the same breath, but you've done it here, Mr. PM. I hope he doesn't freeze, poor fellow.

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    1. I hoped this post would have that effect!

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  3. Well, can you all talk African?

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    1. Nope! There's no such language as African! In his mind he was just recalling that Oxfam regularly addresses crises in Africa.

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  4. If you can't find any old ones, maybe you could pick up a cheap new pair. And some socks, homeless people always need socks.

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    1. I asked Shirley for some socks for Christmas so I will pass on some of my old socks to the homeless people around Hunter's Bar. There's only five or six regulars.

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  5. I feel for the homeless. It would be a terrible, fearful state in which to be. No one would want to wish that situation upon anyone. So sad....

    I often wonder what would happen to me and where I would end up if I ever had to vacate my very humble premises. It's a frightening thought.

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    1. Many people could easily slip through the net. There but for the grace of God go any of us...

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  6. Many homeless people are mentally ill. It's so sad, especially in the winter. :(

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    1. Yes. Wintertime is very challenging for the homeless. Sadly, it seems that a proportion of them are habitual drug users.

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  7. It's so hard to see the homeless population here in Oregon--your little story cheered me up. For me, the best I can do is look people in the eye and acknowledge their existence, which I think matters.

    Recently, I was grocery shopping in a local shopping complex, and had to park quite a ways away from the store. When I got to my car, I looked around to see if anyone could help me load a heavy carton of logs into the car. I knew I couldn't lift it, so I asked the next person I saw, clearly homeless and looking pretty bedraggled, if he'd do a good deed and help me with the loading. He paused for just a second, and then very politely lifted the box into my car. I thanked him, and as he left a local police car pulled up beside me and the officer asked if that man had been bothering me. I said no, I had asked for his help and he seemed glad to be of help. The cop looked a bit surprised and then said "Thank you, Mam," with a big smile.

    The real joke is that my car license is out of date, and I was sure the cop was going to notice and give me a warning or a ticket (he didn't). So I guess it was good karma all around.

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    1. My wife and I were shocked about the number of homeless people we saw in Portland a couple of years back. Some of them were pretty aggressive too. Thanks for sharing your story Kate.

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  8. We have become quite hardened to homeless people in London. It was surprising to go to Amsterdam recently and not see any.

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  9. Very nice your blog and article. I like this blog thank for sharing.

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