Well, this happened to me in London. I had noticed this woman squatting at the end of the steps on the platform of the Piccadilly line at Leicester Square station. She had a sign up that she would take money or food whichever you had. After seeing her a few times there, I never noticed her again, as if I had tuned her out of my mind. Leicester Square, where people change between the busy Northern and the Piccadilly lines, is a busy station and can get very crowded at times. One day, as I rushed down the steps I could hear a train pull up into the station and as I came around the bend towards the last flight of stairs, the doors closed and the train was gone. Suddenly a crowded platform had become eerily empty. It was just me and the woman whom I noticed once again.
She seemed to hold her head down, but upon closer observation I noticed she was crying. Tears were streaming down her eyes. Although I moved along the platform, I couldn't resist speculating why she was crying. The next train came pretty quickly and the few handful passengers who had gathered by now boarded. I still could not shake that image out of my mind. She had looked innocent, and her emotion had felt genuine. Suddenly, I remembered I had packed a Subway sandwich on the way to the train station to eat later when I got home. Not knowing why I was doing it, I got off at the next station, took the train bound for Leicester Square and returned to the woman who still sat there. Her eyes now almost dried up, but the desolate look unmistakable. I stopped and offerred her the sandwich. I asked her if she ate chicken, and she replied, as long as it was food, she ate. She said, she had some food with her today, showing me a tatterred plastic box with half eaten croissants and what seemed like remnants of a sandwich from Burger King. What she needed was the money for her monthly accommodation. I was surprised and not believing her at first I delved deeper. She was a bit reluctant to answer my questions and when I reassured her that I was not the kind of person who would take advantage of a homeless woman, if at all, I would help her, she was more forthcoming. She had come to London from Romania, in search of a better life and had paid exhorbitant amounts of money to be transported in a truck from the French border to the UK. She was a school teacher in Romania, had two children aged 6 and 4 from a drunk of a husband. She wanted to earn some money and bring her children here who were currently with her mother. She contacted the local police station once on British soil to seek asylum. By this time, the bemused bystanders on the once-again crowded platform were staring at me, some with curiosity and some with pure scorn.
Long story short she was denied asylum and had not shown up for her deportation order. She could not find a job and had to finally resort to begging. There was a lady who ran a dilapilated shelter illegally for the homeless and collected 100 pounds a month, a hefty rent for 6 ladies in a room. She was overdue two days for rent and had managed to muster up only 87 pounds. If she didn't come up with the 13 more, she would be evicted. Knowing that I would only be helping a bad habbit, and still not convinced entirely of her story, I gave her five pounds and offerred to contact social workers who would tend to her. She declined and I didn't pursue further. As I boarded my train to go home, I felt an enormous sense of helplessness, and a feeling of guilt I didn't exactly know why. Who was responsible? Herself, who left in search for a better life for her kids? or her husband, who drove her to this? or the British government that was trying to legitimately control immigration? It troubled me for weeks before I was finally able to get it out of my mind, until now. I think, some restless days lie ahead.
I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with keyboards.