The Intangible Benefit of Giving

In my last post I said I would write a poem each night throughout April. Turns out I write best when the incident or reason is recent and raw. So when the following happened last night, I wrote out the details during the train-ride home. Tonight, rather than poetry, I am writing a short story. Like any good short story, both the middle and the end relate to the beginning.


I gave about $5 to a homeless guy about 7pm last night, almost by accident. He quietly shuffled beside me as I was waiting the the North Terrace tram-crossing. There was I dressed in my corporate attire, and him wearing a combination of various attires.

Fresh Vegetables Hey Buddy, can you spare a few dollars. I need something to eat.”

I looked at him, looked at my new Crumpler bag – then reached in and brought out my coin-bag.

Put out your hand. Whatever falls out is yours.” … I poured out almost $5 in silver coins.

He was happy, and I must admit to feeling quite proud of myself. I give as often as I can, because NOW I can. I don’t earn a lot, but I remember when I earned a heck of a lot less.

I remember the time in my life when…

  • unemployment-benefits was my main source of income – for almost eight years!
  • … the fortnightly payment being just enough that the bank would fine me for having so little in my account. I thought I would never win.
  • … eating 5-minute noodles every night of the week, and sometimes for breakfast. At COLES, the more you buy, the less you pay. Bulk prices rock!
  • … I was invited to go scrounging in a COLES dumpster with a guy who claimed you can find amazing stuff or expired cans of food! You can, but you don’t want to keep nor eat it. (And the best I ever found was a miniature pine Xmas tree.)

Yet when I had next-to-nothing, I still managed to push myself every day. I found a way to get a cheap jacket, pair of slacks, shoes, shirt, and brief-case so I could look decent each day when I visited the job-centre looking for that illusive job. The brief-case rarely had anything in it – except my ever-growing CV and a bottle of water.

Bag of Lemons I was invited to atend all the free training and courses available at the Commonwealth-employment-service: clerical, computing, retail. Some proved superfluous before the ink dried on the certificate. I attended interesting finance courses. Futures marketing is most interesting when geeks with worse suits sit than me .

And in the end I got offered a 3 week temp job with a government department. I am now a 14-year veteran. After 13years of doing an interesting variety of duties within 3 roles, I now have a job that challenges me, actually enables closure of some of my tasks (whereby I can say at the end of a day or week that something actually changed because of my suggestion, teamwork or autonomous work/input).

So every so often I give of myself.
I give up 5 hours a fortnight to the govt, and I don’t care. Sometimes a job just has to get done.  I give a free smile and ‘Hello ‘ to anyone who serves me Coles where I used to buy my $10-pack-of-5 noodles. And when I am somewhat-sure the money isn’t going to buy drugs, I give a homeless guy money for dinner.

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