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to want to avoid someone because they made me buy them something...

(49 Posts)
Punkatheart Thu 16-Dec-10 20:21:28

In the summer, a Big Issue seller appeared outside our local Waitrose. She was there in all weathers and when I saw here while shopping, I would buy her a coffee if it was cold outside or a cold drink if it was hot. Sometimes a huge muffin. She was always polite and perfectly pleasant until one day, when I asked her if she would like a drink, she shook her head and said quite abruptly: 'No drinks, Nappies.' I was a little taken aback but I agreed. 'I have two babies...so two sets of nappies.'

I went into Waitrose and bought the two sets of nappies. I haven't bought them for a long time - but I was amazed how expensive they were.

When I got home, my OH - who is generally quite soft - was quite angry that I had been 'taken advantage of...'. We are not wealthy but comfortable enough.....

Then when I saw the girl again, she looked as if she was going to ask me again. I ducked into Waitrose and I have been avoiding her ever since. But it makes me feel as if I am a terrible person. I don't know what situation she is in - but I understood that selling the Big Issue was intended to help people avoid begging. Was this begging - asking a stranger for nappies? But I simply cannot afford to support her in this way....

lagrandissima Thu 16-Dec-10 20:30:04

You've been kind. She's been direct. Lots of people buy drinks/snacks for big issue sellers, so maybe she just thought she'd ask you for something more useful to her at that time.

If she asks you for another packet of nappies, you can always say no, sorry. I know it would probably make you feel rubbish, but you can say it with a smile.

You've already been kinder & more generous than most, I'm sure. However, the lady in question will probably not ask you directly for something - she has no doubt some pride (she is selling papers, not begging). I would imagine too that she'd be glad to see a familiar face and not be ignored or avoided.

If you have lingering doubts about being 'taken advantage of' you could always give what you can afford to an organisation like Shelter /Crisis, then in your heart you'd know you'd done your bit.

BelleDeChocChipCookieMonster Thu 16-Dec-10 20:32:04

If she has 2 children who she needs nappies for then it's not likely she's homeless and on the streets to be honest.

AnyFuleSno Thu 16-Dec-10 20:35:57

I don't know, I see your point but...you were happy to buy her drinks and food so you could feel like a good person. You can't blame her for asking. Why don't you just give her a little bit of money and she can buy what she needs? Of course you don't HAVE to give her anything

plupervert Thu 16-Dec-10 20:36:33

Big Issue sellers do not have to be on the streets. They can simply be "vulnerably housed". That's quite enough as it is.

TheMonster Thu 16-Dec-10 20:37:07

You don't need to be on the streets to be a Big Issue vendor.

I am a supported of the Big Issue, but I would have been a bit angry at her demand for nappies. YOu could contact the Big Issue who would speak with her about it, and probably issue her with an alternative pitch so that you don't have to avoid her.

AnyFuleSno Thu 16-Dec-10 20:37:38

You don't have to be on the streets to sell big issue, she may well be in a hostel.

BelleDeChocChipCookieMonster Thu 16-Dec-10 20:39:16

Ah, sorry. Thank you smile

HecTheHallsWithBoughsOfHolly Thu 16-Dec-10 20:39:52

not everyone who sells the big issue is still homeless. you can be what they call 'vulnerably housed'

OP - have you checked she is a legit seller? with badge? they also wear a uniform, don't they? an orange jacket or something?

one other thing - is her first language english? only not coffee, nappies is a very incomplete sentence and I wondered if it could be a communication issue rather than rudeness.

miniwedge Thu 16-Dec-10 20:39:52

Big issue sellers are not just people living on the streets, it is an organisation that supports all homeless including people in temp accomodation or who are making the transition from temp to more permanent housing.

Being homeless doesn't necessarily mean you live on the streets either. t could mean you have no permanent home and live off favours from friends etc, or are living in a shelter.

Please educate yourself about homelessness before deciding they do not qualify as homeless because they have two chldren.

BelleDeChocChipCookieMonster Thu 16-Dec-10 20:43:26

There's no need for that mini. I have already appologised.

MerrilyDefective Thu 16-Dec-10 20:45:09

I saw that Belle,a bit sharp of mini.

colditz Thu 16-Dec-10 20:45:45

You know how expensive nappies are?

And you know how much money big issue sellers make? Do you know how it works?

They are given five copies of the magazine, which they sell for £2 a copy. They can then buy further issues for £1 a copy. They are not reimbursed for magazines they fail to sell.

How many copies do you think you can sell per day?

And how much is a packet of nappies?

ArsMamatoria Thu 16-Dec-10 20:47:47

Punk, was this the Waitrose Henley? If so, she's had nappies, bottles, some formula, wipes, sandwiches and cash from me, plus a bag of third hand babygrows and a slightly mildewed pushchair grin.

And though I don't begrudge her any of it, I do know what you mean about deliberately avoiding that route sometimes as I feel uncomfortable saying no.

GypsyMoth Thu 16-Dec-10 20:48:15

i was once living in an hostel with my 4 dc....i was homeless,so allowed to sell the big issue if i'd wanted to

i was also on full benefits with no utilities to pay....it was one of the richest times of my life

miniwedge Thu 16-Dec-10 21:09:52

Belle - apologies, I posted whilst in the middle of a three way conversation, I hadn't een all the cross-posts until now.

BelleDeChocChipCookieMonster Thu 16-Dec-10 21:11:06

It's not a problem smile

NuttySanta Thu 16-Dec-10 21:20:20

I'm so sorry to hear this. I think your OH was a little unkind to you and your feelings. I think you've got to tough it out.
Do what YOU want to do and don't feel emtionally forced to do anything. We should be big girls now and we decided how we should handle things. The rough with the smooth is part of real life. I think we will see more of this. I give money to charity so no one is beholden to me and I don't I have to judge the receiver sad

allnightlong Thu 16-Dec-10 21:24:08

Coldditz What has the nature of selling BI got to do with the OP, the fact is the OP should not be having to buy nappies for her in the first place!

OP I don't blame you for avoiding her for one thing a cup of coffee is way less expensive than 2 bags of nappies! You were put in a position where you felt pressurized.
I fairly certain you can report her to BI too they aren't meant to be begging extras while selling the magazine, I'm sure they have some code of conduct too.

StantonLacy Thu 16-Dec-10 21:30:32

The regular big issue seller outside our local sainsburys has bluntly asked me to give her my DDs pushchair.(NOT slightly mildewed and in current daily use!)
I was a little surprised, to say the least.
Me and the DCs always smile and say hello when we see her, but it is now very awkward as she keeps asking ( and not in a tongue in cheek manner, either) and I have to keep refusing..with a smile, but a very strained one.
So, no I don't think YABU if you felt a bit uncomfortable.

jenny60 Thu 16-Dec-10 21:35:15

I give my local BI seller £5 for the mag each week. He always tries to give me change, I always say no, he always says, are you sure, I say yes etc... I've thought about buying him a coffee or fags but in the end decided he should decide what he needed, not me. He's never asked for any more or anything else in 2.5 years. Could you try something like this if you want to continue to support her?

Unrulysun Thu 16-Dec-10 21:40:09

OTOH...

It must be very difficult to accept (probably quite expensive) coffees from people every day when you know that there are things that your dcs desperately need?

I think people who are suggesting 'reporting her' are BVVU - she asked for nappies ffs. If I were in her position I hope I'd swallow my pride and, when a person who had shown me kindness before offered me something I definitely didn't need, ask for something dd needed.

I don't think YABU to go another way if you want to avoid her but I do think YAB a bit U to blame her.

Punkatheart Thu 16-Dec-10 22:20:03

Interesting and helpful points - thank you all for your comments. I particularly take the points of her not wanting the coffee, if it is less useful. I think the language barrier made her appear rude.....to complicate things, I was very ill at the time of her asking (cancer - having lots of treatment) and I was feeling a little vulnerable and to be honest, not quite with it. My OH was simply being protective.

I did smile at the 'slightly mildewed pushchair'....and she's not in Henley but it may well be the same person....

She is legitimate and no, I would never think of reporting her. If I was in that situation, my family too would come first. How luxurious it is to have such a middle-class dilemma - when she has to think about survival day to day. But I think people in the local area are kind to her and that she seems to get by, be well-fed.

Thanks again....

PhoebeBurbabee Thu 16-Dec-10 22:31:02

The big issue seller outside somerfield and now the co-op in my town has also asked me to buy him two packs of nappies for his children.
I used to give him the money for the big issue but then not take one so he could sell it again. I said no, sorry, to the nappies request. You are much nicer.

Unrulysun Thu 16-Dec-10 22:31:31

And now I think you're definitely not at all U

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