Feeding pigeons

Last week I was out in Berlin “covering” Obama’s speech (to a crowd of 4,000 invitation-holders, no one else was allowed in – but that’s another story…). As I was walking around Potsdamer Platz, desperately trying to find somewhere to eat that wasn’t both disgusting and over-priced, I watched an old woman feeding a crowd of pigeons from what appeared to be a fresh loaf of bread. She was doing this less than 5 meters away from a homeless man panhandling.

So, to recap:

I saw someone giving food to DISGUSTING, DIRTY AIR-RATS THAT WILL LITERALLY EAT GARBAGE* right next to a HUMAN BEING WHO WAS LITERALLY ASKING FOR HELP.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t see anything before this. Maybe the old woman walked by the panhandler and wanted to help, so she went to Netto and bought a loaf of bread and offered it to the man and he was all, “Uhm, no, gross, I don’t eat white bread,” and the old woman didn’t know what to do with the loaf of bread so she just started feeding it to the pigeons right there so she didn’t have to carry it around with her.

But probably not.

I often have my own aversions to handing out money and food to panhandlers. Every time I see someone asking for change I go through the same internal debate about how much you’re ultimately helping the person, whether you should trust that they’ll use the money wisely (and what that means, and whether it’s even your business), whether giving something is just a way to make me feel better about myself and inherently puts the person on the receiving end at an inferior level, etc etc (welcome to my brain, enjoy the stay in crazytown). However, if I don’t end up giving a panhandler something, I certainly don’t follow that up by standing there for a while showing them how worthless they are in creative and subtle ways.

I’m not really sure what this situation says about anything. I’d like to draw some general conclusions about the state of humanity, given as this was happening while the German government was spending what I can only imagine were millions of Euros on absolutely insane security for Obama’s 24 hour visit to the Hauptstadt, but I’m not sure it says anything other than “some people are really shitty.”

After I’d gotten food I had some change in my pocket, and I walked back to the plaza intending to give it to the guy, but he’d moved on. The pigeons were still there enjoying their unnecessary meal.

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