Taking the Ish

We’re in that weird time of year where Halloween is front and centre in the shops, but the distant jingling of bells heralds the approaching Christmas. I took a wander into the city centre today and was a little annoyed to see that Cardiff Castle already had it’s Christmas lights up, this paled into insignificance when I saw how St David’s was tarted up.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “Bah, humbug! Christmas is coming earlier every year!” rant. Although I do think there should be some kind of rule that you can’t start anything until after Remembrance Day (11th November) or at least Guy Fawkes’ (5th Nov).

No, this is a rant about something completely different.

As I strolled along I saw a Big Issue vendor dressed as Frankenstein’s monster, in honour of Halloween, which I thought was a nice touch and clever bit of marketing from the dude.

I was about to tweet about this and was debating the ethics of taking a snap- I had sod all change on me, so I couldn’t buy a magazine off him, which is the only way taking a photo would have seemed okay to me.

Head down and headphones in I didn’t notice a guy approach me and hand me a magazine. Being a student and lover of free reading materials, I took it, thinking it would be some ad-laden rag or propaganda of some sort. But something for me to flick through later. I was strolling off in a world of my own when the guy caught up with me.

It was at this point I looked down and realized that he’d given me a Big Issue and was now asking for the cash.

I just want to point out that I hadn’t asked for a magazine or approached him in any way other than the fact he was in the general direction I was walking.

Now, he was wearing the proper vendor gear (ID badge and vest thing) but this didn’t seem kosher to me. I know you’ve probably got to be a bit outgoing and imaginative to sell your magazines, and it’s important that you do, but come on! This wasn’t on.

I’m sure as a tactic it works. You disorient the customer and they just hand over the money because they feel awkward. But that ain’t what it’s about, and it sure as hell isn’t going to generate much good feeling towards you or your fellow vendors.

Realizing what was going on I handed the magazine back to him. He seemed reluctant to take it back and jabbered about how much it cost. He was pretty small and hardly the most vicious looking dude, but I can imagine for some people he could be intimidating or throw them off.

Hell, it rattled me.

I said I had no cash and this is where the guy really started to grind my gears.

He stated that there was a cash machine just down the road.

Screw you, man! Firstly, I ain’t entirely comfortable walking to a cashpoint with a homeless dude following me every step of the way. I like to imagine the best of people, but I ain’t some naive fool. And secondly, you’re really leaving the line of acceptable vendor behaviour behind you now.

Also, the guy’s selling style still bothered me and even if I had the cash on me I’d have refused to buy one off him, on principle alone. Hell, if I’d had the cash I’d have told him to get stuffed, walked back to Herman and bought one off him, and then walked past this douche to show him that Mrs Page’s baby boy is nobody’s fool!

I said no, forced the magazine back into his hands and stalked off feeling pretty damn annoyed about it all. Part of me feels I should’ve taken his vendor number or something to file a complaint so he can’t do this to others, but I didn’t think about it at the time.

It was one of those annoying little moments that niggled at me for the rest of the day, hence why I’m getting it off my chest here.

The really irritating part is that if this guy had done this to someone else they might see it as exactly why they shouldn’t bother with the Big Issue again in future, which is a shame because it’s an organization I’ve got great admiration for. They put out a pretty decent magazine for a very good cause and in my experience 9/10 of their vendors are tidy enough folks and trying to help themselves out. Unfortunately idiots like this give them all a bad image and will just alienate folks from the cause.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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