Friday, July 29, 2011

Don’t sit still!

They've been at it again, the money lenders, or more correctly the money givers. This time it was a mother and child.

I have discussed this "problem" before.

I thought I was in one of those National Geographic wildlife programmes, you know the ones, where the parent lioness manages to capture a helpless impala but instead of despatching it herself she summons in her youngsters to do the job so that they may learn from practical experience. I felt a bit like a young impala, positioned as I was with my back to the window of a store in the local shopping mall. The lioness, in this case a well-meaning one, had me cornered, and gathered up her offspring with a handful of loose change. Unlike the bushveld scene I managed to defuse the situation and allow all the parties concerned to escape with some dignity.

I have however determined the primary reason why I become the target of money givers in public places. It only ever happens when I sit still. It's never happens when I'm on the move. Somehow sitting still in one spot for any length of time triggers a flag which says "beggar". When I'm in my powerchair, and moving, I seem to become part of the crowd and the only attention I attract is from children interested in my “pram” and startled adults eager to get out of my way. If I stop for any length of time, particularly if I am on my own and not talking to anyone, then that flag goes up again and the money lenders begin to close in.

Initially when I started to experience this problem I wondered how anyone could confuse me with the beggar since I was using a powerchair, none of which come cheap, and was freshly shampooed, shaved, and sh-----, um, dressed. I have now come to realise that it has nothing to do with my appearance but has everything to do with my movement, or the lack thereof.

In a bizarre incident the other day I happened to be waiting for my wife on one side of a shopping mall entrance whilst on the other side was another gentleman in a wheelchair doing fundraising for a local charitable institution. It took all of my efforts to ensure that the would-be donors directed their attention to that gentleman, his collection banner and tin, rather than towards me. Perhaps I am missing my vocation and should be offering my services as a tin shaker to fundraising institutions. Do they work on a commission basis?

It seems that in our human world we are the opposite of that young impala which opened this piece. Their lives are all about flight or freezing. Flight attracts the attention of predators while freezing in the long grass can make one invisible to those around you. In our human world, flight, or keeping on the move, allows us to blend in, while freezing in the open plains of mall-land draws unwarranted attention. Perhaps David Attenborough should do a National Geographic programme on this phenomena, or perhaps not.