This post is one I really didn’t want to write. Much like Jesus, I initially took an “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me” attitude to this topic, but I’ve come to realize that this cup cannot pass from me, because like it or not, and I’m leaning towards “not,” I actually am the one with the voice that the subjects of this missive lack. I’ve had a few close encounters with poverty and discrimination against the poor in recent times. You can check out this post on a conversation I had on the street with a man representing St. Mungos where he told me plaintively that “nobody cares.” As a writer, I know only too well what poverty feels like, so I possibly have more empathy toward people in these situations than the average person, many of whom think the poor are poor because they are lazy and can therefore be treated as sub-human. Things came to a head on Monday morning. I’ve been on the losing end of a dispute over an old, non-functional phone and the contract attached to it, which actually ties into my whole topic of the rich devouring the poor whenever possible. Such is the way of the world. I packed the phone into my bag, intending to take it to the original supplier in an attempt to salvage it and get some benefit from my contract. My only opportunity to do this was on Monday morning after a rough workout in the park. I had to do push ups and ab crunches in the dirt and store my coat under a tree. I do this often and usually take no notice of my appearance as I go home and shower immediately after. I put my crumpled trench coat on after the workout and remembered the phone, so I trotted off to the store on Oxford Street to see what could be done to fix it. I didn’t get the phone repaired. Instead, I got an unexpected lesson in the way people treat people who they perceive as poor. I must have looked a sight – crumpled, sweaty, sporting a disheveled afro and clutching a four-year-old phone in my grubby palm. The manager’s tone was immediately condescending when I stepped into the store. It rapidly got worse. He kept commenting on my “old water-damaged phone” and eventually moved on to telling me that he didn’t know why I was sitting in his store with my “four-year old phone and my trouble-making self” and told me to get out. That’s right. I was spoken to and treated like a piece of scum and thrown out of a store in which I had once bought a phone because I looked poor. I was stunned. I was even more stunned when I realized that the manager saw nothing discriminatory or wrong about his behaviour and that several others will fail to see it too. I wanted to cry when I realized that the poor and homeless are treated like this every single day. I’m taking serious stock of the way I speak to and deal with the poor and homeless people I meet on the street every day. I only hope that you will too. It doesn’t take much to make the world a slightly better place. You can just be one less person who treats poor people badly or ignores them and we’ll be well on our way. Have a blessed day.