Money, Money, Money


For most of my life I have lived in a pretty small town. Even though there must be many living there that aren´t as fortunate, only very few people are in the streets begging for money. It was a real shock when I went to Sunny Beach, Bulgaria where every five metre someone was trying to sell me something. In that holiday I got into a habit of just ignoring anyone talking to me in the streets. That was until a few weeks ago when I had an encounter with a homeless beggar called Manfred while I was out shopping. He really got me thinking.




Manfred is a 49-year-old man who has no fixed abode and lives off of Hartz IV (the german unemployment benefit). He seemed a bit older than he is but he was dressed quite normally. I wouldn´t have suspected him to be a beggar. When he first approached me he was asking for money. I was sat on a bench and had been asked too many times that day already, so I lied and said I had no change on me. I was surprised when he didn´t just walk off but said that he thought I was honest with him. My smile must have encouraged him because he just started talking.

He talked about his illness and money, his friends and his girlfriend. Repeatedly, he stated how old he felt, how unfair the world was and how everyone was ignorant and contemptuous towards him. After a while he even sat down next to me. I think he was just glad that he could talk to someone who gave him a smile and listened instead of looking down on him. I didn´t get to speak much but I tried to directly look at him, be the friendliest I have ever been and gave him some empathy. He seemed so genuine and couldn´t stop talking. He was jumping from topic to topic without caring if I knew the people and problems he was talking about. Also he kept complimenting me on how mature, honest and empathetic I was and that he felt amazed by the way I was acting towards him because he got a friendly reaction. This compliment has really stuck with me.

The thing about the conversation that really got me was Manfred talking about money. I had just gotten out of Primark where I spent £30 on basic shirts and some make up that I didn´t really need. He told me that the friend he was living with for the moment had helped him financially quite a lot and not just with £1 or £2. Naturally, I was expecting him to say some big number but he went on with "it even was in double digits". We have so crazy different views on money. Whereas I can spent any amount in double digits on unnecessary clothes or just one dinner, he calls that amount a savior. For me it´s nothing but for him it´s everything. 

There was only one thing that was throwing me off. Around the end he kept asking me to buy him some food. First, I was trying to get out of it and kept making up excuses because I can´t admit to change in any conversation. In the end, I gave him about one pound in change and soon after he got up and went away. I don´t know if this was his scam to get money and I feel kind of betrayed because of this. I don´t care about that one pound but for me it felt like something different. If this was just a trick, then the compliment and all the topics meant nothing. On the other hand he seems honestly glad just to talk to someone for a while.

When he said goodbye Manfred closed our conversation with another sentence that has really stuck with me. 
"I wish you something that can´t be paid for with money. Think about what that is." 
Personally, I came to the conclusion that for me this is happiness. Being happy is the best thing in the world and so rewarding but it´s hard to achieve. No shirt or phone can buy me happiness, I have to work hard for it. But think about it yourself. What is something important to you that can´t be paid with money?


6 comments

  1. A very well written and thought provoking post... Like you said, happiness, definitely and Love. Just as the Beatles sang, 'Can't buy me love'!!

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    1. Thank you. Yes, Love is definitely another thing that came to my mind.
      xx

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much. That´s what I wanted to achieve.
      xx

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  3. Such an interesting post. I recently went to San Francisco and was left very shocked and helpless by the homeless problem they have. There is never an easy answer!

    www.thatnewdress.com

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    1. Thank you. I get a shock every time I go to a bigger city here now as there are so many refugees walking around. Homelessness is definitely a problem that should be solved. We´re living in 2015 and have great technology for crying out loud.
      xx

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