He was standing by the payphone outside Bentleigh Post Office, as I checked my post box about 45 minutes ago. He might still be there now. Asking passers-by for money to make a long-distance call, regarding his father, who had passed away.
Was he telling the truth? I don’t know. I told him I had no coins — which was true. He asked if he could borrow a $5 note, to pay back tomorrow when his pension arrived. Yeah right — you couldn’t use that to make a phone call, and I’d never see it again. “I’m sorry,” I said, as I walked away.
But he cut such a pathetic figure. I hadn’t seen him around before, trying it on. Perhaps it was true? How gutted would you feel if it were you, needing to make that phone call in that situation? Yet I wasn’t willing to just hand him my mobile phone.
I went home with my groceries. Karma. Guilt — despite my usual policy of never giving to beggars; giving to charities who are in a better position to know who’s genuine and who isn’t.
No coins in the house. Maybe I could offer him a payphone card, and see what he said?
I went back out. Had a look. He was still there, asking people. I went to the newsagent to buy him a payphone card. They were shut. Went to Coles. No, they said, they have prepaid mobile phone cards. They suggested a post office (shut) or a 7-11 (miles away; I was on foot). Went to Safeway. They don’t sell them anymore either. Nowhere else was open.
Now I’m back in my warm house. I’m sorry mate, I can’t help you. If you’re genuine, then I hope someone else can.