Profession: Corporate Begging Salary: #400 per person convinced
In a white starched shirt, black trousers and shiny shoes, not forgetting your neatly combed hair, you walk up to me with hope in your heart that I’m your lucky girl. I’m the one who has extra to spare and is willing to share. To you, I’m your next victim of bamboozling. I am your chosen one.
You form your sorry story with as much evidence of reality as possible, even though every bit of your tragedy is as fictitious as Peter Pan and Cinderella. Your technique is very much backed by the Catharsis theory.
Pity. Your show is only an advertisement of shame.
Corporate Beggar! You’ve earned yourself the name.
And when you’ve succeeded in your plight, you let ‘honest’ happiness light your eyes, a ‘thank you very much, thank you so much, God bless you’ and prayers of all sort is said with obvious appreciation. Spurious, of course. Then you leave looking for another fellow to hoodwink.
When I hear people’s accounts of their encounters with corporate beggars, there’s this belief that the ‘beggars’ don’t actually set out for deception, that they actually need that help or that money. Call me naïve and I’d accept.
I was at school on a Saturday afternoon for an assignment when a certain young man clad in a blue t-shirt and denim trousers walked up to me in his Versace designer shoes. Now, dressed like that, one wouldn’t suspect that he was out to beg. Judging from just his shoes, begging won’t be on the list of things along your train of thoughts. But beg he did. In a very skilled and convincing way. The art was of superb expertise like he had been in that line for a very long time. In fact, he didn’t use the Catharsis theory technique, as he must have thought it was overused, he just went straight to the point, but not without including his own version of why he’d been reduced to begging. It went like this,
“Sorry Alhaja, salam alaekum, erm I’m so sorry to disturb you but please Alhaja are you in mass comm?”
I wondered how he knew what department I belonged to. But then, I was sitting on a pavement before a sign that read MASS COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT with THE SCHOOL OF LIBERAL STUDIES on the next line.
After replying yes, he went on
“Alhaja see I’m going through a very major problem. In fact I’m so confused. See, what I’m dealing with is a matter of life and death and if I don’t get help I don’t know what I’d do. I even feel so embarrassed begging you. But please just help me. Alhaja, I’d be so glad if you help me with just #400. Please Alhaja, I’m so sorry for this kind of meeting,” I didn’t even think twice, his ‘touching’ analogy went straight to the heart, eluding my brain, and leading my hand to my purse. I was going to give him some money alright, but I didn’t have much. My ‘last kobo’ was a thousand naira note. Here I am thinking, how do I help this guy in this matter of urgency? So I told him, “I’m sorry I don’t have any change at all” But this desperate brother, who seemed to have come fully prepared said “Ah! Don’t worry about that o. I have some money with me.” He dipped his hands in his pockets and brought out some four notes of #100 and a note of #50, “don’t worry, just have these and I’d quickly run to get the rest of your change.” That certain man made away with #550 and never came back with my share of #150.
Few weeks later, which was yesterday, back at school, a certain young man clad in a green and black t-shirt and denim trousers walked up to me in his Versace designer shoes. For one thing, I NEVER forget a face and even that face had chosen to stick to a part of my memory that was reserved for certain offenders.
And the shoes, lovely pair with the medusa symbol, gave him away. I even thought he had recognized me and wanted to apologise for not returning the rest of my money. Yeah right. He only stopped me to act out the scene he so perfectly did the last time.
He went through the first part of the story, “Sorry Alhaja, salam alaekum, erm I’m so sorry to disturb you but please Alhaja are you in mass comm?” only this time, he asked if I was a part time student or full time student. Maybe because I wasn’t sitting near any directory.
He went on, “Alhaja see I’m going through a very major problem. In fact I’m so confused. See, what I’m dealing with is a matter of life and death and if I don’t get help I don’t know what I’d do. I even feel so embarrassed begging you. But please just help me. Alhaja, I’d be so glad if you help me with just #400. Please Alhaja, I’m so sorry for this kind of meeting,” the same request, nothing changed.
Fool me once, I might excuse you
Fool me twice, it won’t even happen again.
I only laughed in his face and told him with a broad smile that I didn’t have up to that, which was exactly true. I only had enough to get home. Not that I’d have given him if I had more.
How many people would he have met, sung the same song and gotten #400 from. I’m guessing a lot to get him another pair of nice shoes.
I could only face the truth that there are people like him walking on the street or the road or wherever in really good clothes looking like they have their lives together, but deep down is actually a mind calculating, scheming, plotting how a random boy or girl will be his ticket to his next need.
I believe that a Corporate Beggar has more shame and more honour than he who sits on the floor with a plate dancing in hand.