It was supposed to be a leisurely, late breakfast with a friend at the hawker centre at People’s Park yesterday. I certainly did not expect to get such a rude shock. And I can safely conclude that it was partly my fault too. Sigh.
What happened was, basically, that a tissue peddler came up to our table while we were chatting. I didn’t even notice him approaching (I’m not quite a morning person).
He asked if we would buy his tissues. Just one look was enough to size him up: able-bodied, taller than average guys, no visible injuries or impediments, doesn’t even look or sound hungry.
But he claimed to have no money for food. And just simply refused to leave. He seemed to know I would relent eventually so he focused his ‘attack’ on me, instead of my guy pal.
[Here he is pestering other diners. The auntie in the orange top gave in too]
I had forgotten to keep my wallet in my bag, so it was on the table, lying in plain view for everyone to see. Naturally, he zoomed in on our table like a bee to honey. Sian.
I usually have no qualms about giving a donation to old aunties, the handicapped, or just about anyone sitting in a wheelchair and selling tissues, lottery tickets or any other thing. But this guy was obviously able-bodied. He needed a job, not handouts.
I said no so many times, tried to explain I already have tissues (again, on the table for all to see), but he just refused to leave.
Then (cue dramatic music), he got onto his knees, and I told him in Mandarin “Uncle, don’t do this!”
Took out 2 bucks and gave it to him. I just wanted him out of my sight, seriously. A man does not get down onto his knees in public unless it’s a marriage proposal. I really couldn’t understand how this able-bodied guy had no dignity at all.
He put 3 packets of tissues on the table, and I moved them closer to the edge so everyone could see I’d bought tissues already, and not approach us anymore. He took it as a sign that I didn’t want the tissues.
So I let him take them back. Good grief.
He then went on to pester two other ladies. The auntie in the orange top (pictured) was smarter. She took him to the chicken rice stall and ordered food for him. He took the plate and went off into a corner to eat his meal.
Before long, he was back. And asked her to buy him a drink. OMG! The audacity! This time, she told him to buzz off.
He then went on to pester other diners.
One man was tucking into his meal of fried beehoon when this tissue peddler came up to him and kept nudging him in the arm to give him some money. The diner was obviously pissed off because he was trying to put food into his mouth but this persistent fella kept nudging him in the arm. He eventually took five dollars out of his pocket and handed it over, before the guy would leave.
My goodness. It’s an encounter I will not soon forget.
If you happen to get approached by this guy, I’d suggest you just take your stuff and move away. If you stay put, you’ll have to endure the drama of having him kneel before you, and you’ll be so embarrassed (for him as well) that you’ll hand money over just so he’ll stop his antics.