When Your Boss Mocks the Homeless

"6/20/14, Earlene French's sign asking for spare change. She says the sign's purpose is twofold: to ask strangers for money and to serve as a pillow when she sleeps. Photo by Annie Wittenberg. "

By Kathleen Green (United Kingdom)

I work in quite a popular area of London. Outside this shop, I’ve noticed a homeless man who sometimes sits outside and asks passers-by for any spare change.

Last Sunday, while I was working, a garbage collector passed by this homeless man and started yelling at him. I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying except for “Get a job!!” Then the garbage collector made his way into my shop and started to make all these weird gestures to signify that the homeless guy was crazy and lazy. Then he left. I wish I had said something right then and there, because I absolutely didn’t agree with him. I just didn’t know if I was really allowed to yell at this guy while I am wearing my shop’s uniform and representing it.

Today, a week later, the same homeless man was sitting outside when the same garbage collector passed by. Again, he started yelling at this poor guy. The garbage collector started to mimic the homeless guy by pretending to beg. He calls him lazy, and told him to stop pestering people for change. He then looked into our shop at both my assistant manager and me, basically waiting for us to egg him on.

I couldn’t believe it. I shouted out, “Leave him alone!!” The garbage collector looked at me and shrugged me off. He continued to say something to the beggar who was sitting on the ground. I shouted again: “Stop being such an asshole!!”

Finally, the garbage collector walked away. The shop’s assistant manager was laughing, but I didn’t find it funny at all.
My assistant manager then said, “Yeah, he was making fun of him….”
“Yeah, and it’s so incredibly rude!!”
“But he should get a job instead of begging people for money.”
“You don’t know his life, you don’t know his story. You can’t just assume someone is lazy and is not trying to get a job. And even IF a person hasn’t been trying to get a job, that shouldn’t matter. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.”

So many people have different opinions of people living in poverty, and I have heard quite a lot of them.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion–(even if they are completely wrong)–BUT nobody deserves to be treated like that. NOBODY.
It doesn’t matter if you think some guy is lazy. It should not matter. It’s about respect. Every living being deserves respect.

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