Asking for a hand-out or a hand-up?

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
Asking for a hand-out or a hand-up?
(Photo : Seaway News)

Ever since August 1994 until now, I’ve used these self-imposed guidelines when choosing topics for my columns: “Write about anything – except The Big Three: Sex, Politics, Religion.” Today, with each stroke of the keyboard, I feel as if I’m walking through a mine field. With apprehension and caution, here I go.

While my wife was doing the weekly grocery shopping, I was parked outside a large Cornwall shopping area observing the busy comings and goings. Among them was a man holding a large, well-printed, grammatically correct sign. If he had made his large sign on his own, its grammar was correct, its printing and layout was worthy of graphics shop.

I went closer to listen in on his interactions with passers-by.

An irate man confronted him with, “Why aren’t you working? There’s all sorts of jobs out there. I’m tired of you immigrant parasites getting government handouts. Why aren’t you out applying for a job, rather then standing here behind your sign?”

“I try to get jobs. No speak good enough for working.”

Just then a woman who had been listening in interrupted, “Leave him alone. It’s his children who will be supporting us and caring for us in our old age.” With that, she brought out a crisp piece of paper currency, handed it to him and stormed away.

It was my turn to interact with him. “Hi! I’m Nick. What’s your name?”

“My name Yubi Foot.” He was obviously aware of my puzzlement and was not surprized when I followed up with “How do you spell that?”

Immediate response: “It is y-u-b-i…f-o-o-t, Yubi Foot.”

Hmm, I said to my self. It doesn’t sound much like Wolochatiuk, Wasylenki, Kurelek or Humeniuk…, names in my Ukrainian heritage.

I then asked, “What city in Ukraine did you live?”

After pausing to search through his geography data base, he came up with “Bucharest.” That prompted me to think about my travels. I haven’t been to Ukraine, but I have been to Bucharest. I remember it as being in Romania. Seeing that my line of questioning was going nowhere, I came up with this offer. “I’m building a stone wall and I need help to shovel two trailer loads of topsoil as back fill. I’ll pay you $250 for two hours of shovelling. I’ll pick you up from home and drive you back after paying you in cash. Interested?”

He was silent, then asked “Today?”

“No, it’s almost dark. Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Here’s my phone number. Call me.”

His only response was “You go away. Leave me alone.”

I did go away. It’s been more than a week and I haven’t heard from him.

What’s your take on this scenario? What would you do? What would you have to say to him? Would you give him any money or offer any other kind of assistance?

If my judgement was wrong, I apologize, and a Merry Christmas to all.



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