Ever been conned by a beggar?

Yesterday I bought some pizza slices on my way home from work. I had 3, for $5. Just enough to fill the hole before I get home. As I was just about to attack slice 3, a beggar came up to me in the street, and asked for money. I awkwardly hid my body language of a person about to take a bite of dinner, and smoothly transitioned it into an offer, of my last piece of pizza. Immediately the small silver stubbled man spoke from under his cap that he needed money for a place to stay tonight. Not pizza. Now I didn’t want to give money today. My daily account was a bit short, with only $20 left. Payday was 2 days away. I said no. He replied in disgust “I don’t know how you people can sleep at night… you can give money. you know you can. But you won’t. You just don’t give a shit”. I held back the temptation to inform the man i worked for an org that supported homeless people and instead awkwardly removed my self from the conversation, and continued home munching my pizza. it had gotten cold.

Today, after getting off the tram on my way to work, 15 minutes early, I stopped by the ATM to pull out my $20. Payday was tomorrow, and I was looking forward to my first coffee of the day. On the walk to the cafe, a new beggar, exclaimed a huge hello from half way down the street. He came happily over to me, and in an extremely needy tone, asked for some loose change. I replied that I could give him the coins I would get once I broke my note when I bought my coffee. He said great! and we proceeded to the cafe. A moment later he asked me, could he have $5 seeing as I was breaking a $20? I was caught off guard, and ummed and arred, he pounced on my hesitancy and the next thing I knew I had agreed.
I bought my coffee, recieved $16.50 back, and handed him the $5. He whipped out another $5, all crumpled and dirty. He said, can i give you back these two $5’s and get your $10? This $5 looks so dirty and It makes me look bad.
confused by the pace of his comments, and seeing the way he might be looked down upon with that $5, I passed him the $10 as he reached out to give me his two $5’s. But my hand returned with only one $5 in it… the dirty one. I looked up and he was out the door, with a cheeky grin of success on his face. I exclaimed after him, but there was no catching him… my last words were… “You’re good mate…” he actually thanked me, aware, that he was in fact, quite good.
And I was left standing there. In front of my regular barista, not just $10 poorer, but poorer in my sense of control. He had outwitted me. My pride a bit beat, I proceeded on my day with my last $6.50, off to my free lunch at Credo, most likely followed by another coffee or two, and a pay check at midnight. The thing is I can afford to get ripped off.
Why are we so afraid to be ripped off?
Is it really just our pride?

Meet The Team

 Name: Evan Morgan

What do you do at Urban Seed?
Run sessions, hang out with kids hang out with our regulars.

What kind of music are you into?
Doof doof. But all genres can be good.

What’s your stereotype?
Hippy probably? I’m really a Brunswick guy. I have dreads, I’m arty, drink a lot of coffee and vote Greens. 

Favourite food?
Like music, all kinds of food can be done well.

If you could sit down for a coffee with the PM what would you talk about?
The intervention into Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. It was something the Howard government started and while Kevin Rudd apologized for the stolen generation he hasn’t stopped the intervention. An indigenous friend of mine recently implied that more children have been removed from communities through the intervention than were taken during the stolen generation. I haven’t seen the facts on that, but the sentiment is strong. Also, why has Australia never had an indigenous person in the position of Minister for Indigenous Affairs?

Do you have any mad skills?
Mixing bangers. But seriously, I can hum and whistle at the same time and harmonise them. I am also a gun at strategy board games and can blow smoke rings.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
John Howard. Because I disagree with so many of his policies but I think it’s good to understand others perspectives and have my beliefs challenged from the source.

What does Urban Seed mean to you?
Relationships and the way it values those simple connections. The way it changes society through often undervalued social events.

Meet The Team


Name: Chris Durie

What do you do at Urban Seed?:
I’m part of the Youth and Schools team. We chat with Youth and Schools bout stuff n’ whatever…

What kind of music are you into?:
Pretty mixed. I’m really into 70s funk but I also like a bit of punk, emo, rock, pop, indie etc and some video game soundtracks are mind blowing.

What’s your stereotype?:
The Christian. I go to church A LOT, I have loads of Christian friends, I like reading and chatting Theology and my Dad is a priest. At school I got a lot of crap for being a Christian.

Favourite food?:
The one with food in it. I don’t really have a favourite but I recently went to Africa and ate enough cabbage for a life time, so I’m gonna go with “not-cabbage”.

If you could sit down for a coffee with the PM what would you talk about?:
I’d try to find out info about their personal life and psychoanalyze their childhood.

Do you have any mad skillz?:
Nun chuck skills, bow-hunting skills… Nah, I can juggle a bit and I have access to a parallel universe where Chuck Norris was never born.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?:
My brothers? I don’t see them enough but when I do it’s always a riot.

What does Urban Seed mean to you?:
It’s a way of living out my beliefs in a practical way. Jesus is really concerned about the marginalised and talked heaps about how we should treat wealth and those without it. I’m trying to live that.

Meet The Team

Name: Stuart Berryman

What do you do at Urban Seed?
I live in the city as a resident with Urban Seed and help with hospitality at our café, Credo. I also do school walks and help manage some our other programs.

What kind of music are you into?
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING – except the likes of satanic Norwegian death metal…

What’s your stereotype?
The surfer. The scruffy blonde hair and athletic/outdoorsy vibe points people in that direction.

Favourite food?
… I just LOVE food. Doesn’t matter what it is.

 If you could sit down for a coffee with the PM what would you talk about?
Probably just ask her how her week’s been so far.

Do you have any mad skills?
Rock climbing… any climbing.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Richard Rohr… because he soooooothes me.

What does Urban Seed mean to you?

Check out our fundraiser: HELP BRING A BOWL TO THE TABLE

Each week hundreds of people come to Credo Cafe – the homeless, the disadvantaged, university students, office workers and professionals gather together to enjoy a home-style meal in a homely environment. We need $1500 to make new bowls for Credo so please share this post on your Facebook, etc!

Donations can be made through http://pozible.com/bringabowltothetable.

Do you ever feel scared or uncomfortable in Credo?

Credo Cafe is one of Urban Seed’s most special places. It’s where we share lunch with people from all walks of life and a place where we are all the same. Students often ask us questions about whether we feel safe in credo. Here is a response from Stephen Said.. but before that, here’s a little about Stephen (info from www.urbanseed.org)

Stephen Said, Residential & Community Engagement Co-ordinator

Stephen is a husband, a dad, and a foundation member of the Melbourne Heart Football Club. He works in the area of activism and social change as an educator, activist, speaker, writer and community development worker.  Stephen is particularly interested in radical spirituality, incarnational community and the dynamics of personal and social transformation and you can read more about this on his blog. He has helped many think about the nexus between the issues of justice, poverty, consumerism and discipleship in the context of popular global culture.

Question: Do you ever feel scared or uncomfortable in Credo?

Stephen: I often feel uncomfortable and scared. Often when I am close to someone who might be suffering some kind of mental illness, I feel both. It’s hard because I think about all those reports on the news about people with mental illnesses hurting or harming members of the public.

However, the longer I spend in Credo, I realise that not only have I never been threatened, but I have never seen someone threatened by a person with a mental illness in Credo.

If I keep thinking about it, I realise that a lot of my fears are based upon media reports that really are not very accurate at all. So these days, when I find myself feeling uncomfortable or afraid, I try to ask myself “Is the source of my fear/discomfort real, or something the media/broader pop culture taught me?”

It’s a hard discipline to practice, but when I do, it really helps me to actually be more open to the people who are around me, rather than being frightened by culturally constructed stereotypes.

Thanks for sharing Stephen!!