Hand Out For A Hand Up
27 January, 2011

This week’s “vision” will no doubt be a familiar one for my Georgian readers or anyone who has spent time in this country. For many others, the topic of “gypsies” may at the very least seem, odd. To properly illustrate my experience, some mention of life back in the states may be helpful. Before we make any comparisons, we must have something to compare to. Most people who live in a big city have encountered a beggar of some sort, every

city has them.   Bag ladies, homeless people, a drunk guy asking for your spare change. I have even heard of college students dressing up as street people to help cover their lofty tuition cost, believe it or not, you can make good money that way. Never the less, when I first bumped into a gypsy here in Tbilisi, “or should I say when they bumped into me” it was a little boy who followed alongside me with his hand out saying: money, money, give me money. If that wasn’t annoying enough, when I tried to simply walk away from the little pest, he latched onto my leg. After dragging him down the sidewalk for a bit, I managed to pry him off my leg. After which, the boy ran away in search of his next victim no doubt. Moving on, now that we have a subject for comparison, it’s time to bring up a less troublesome variant of those with their hand out. Hopefully this won’t be too depressing because I like my stories to be uplifting and positive, but when you pass by some- one with their hand out, just hoping for a hand up out of a bad situation it tends to tug on ones heart strings. The saddest  thing is that, you can’t help them all and some need help more than others and some are pretending to be in need. The way I figure out who to give a little help to is simple, it feels good to help those who can’t help themselves. Namely, the sick or disabled, and let’s not forget the elderly. A good example is an old man that stands out by the church entrance near my flat. I like to help him out from time to time, he seems grateful and probable needs it. In contrast to this kind little old man, the way of gypsy is much less charming, though it can be amusing. Along with following you around or lurking around every corner they tend to show up in some very inappropriate places. Most Georgians have gotten use to them but when I saw them at a cemetery, I felt like running them out with a stick, the same way you would a stray dog. One thing I can’t figure out is, at the end of the day, where do they go? Is there a secret hiding place or what? I guess no one needs to know. However, it is only fair to say that we have our share of strange street people back in the states Like in any city, as I said before. If you spend a day in Boston which I have many times, you will definitely encounter scores of colorful characters. Frumpy looking homeless people pushing shopping carts filled with strange odds and ends down alleys looking through trash bins for another trinket to throw in their cart. Aside from them, it would not be unusual to be approached by a less than normal sort of individual dressed like a crazy person and talking to his imaginary friend. If you are lucky he will just wander away some place without trying to have some kind of dialogue with you. Sadly, with all the somewhat dark points to consider when it comes to seeing a person with their hand out, it is all too easy to over look just how little effort it takes to reach into your pocket and make two people feel better. For the cost of some lose change, you just might get more than you give…
The article is published without changes in the author’s style.

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