How would you feel if you were visiting a city and on every street corner you came across a gypsy and child? Not so bad right? At least they are just sitting on the corner and begging. How would you feel if every single time you sit down in a street cafe several gypsy women came pleading for money while holding a crying child? Here is where it starts to get tricky. I'm not a heartless person and God knows I have lain awake in bed at night thinking about unfair it is that these poor children are subjected to such a hard life. I'm not without feelings, however, where do you draw the line?
Let me start off by saying that I am OVER Brussels. I'm over the noise at night, I'm over handing getting Evans in and out of the apartment on my own but mostly I am over being harassed for money every single time I step foot out the door. Folks, I'm from Atlanta so I'm no stranger to being hit up for cash while walking around in town but Brussels takes begging to a new level. When Deaner gets finished working in the afternoons we love to stroll with Evans to a street cafe and sit down for a beer. I didn't used to mind when street performers came by playing accordions but it is starting to seriously set us back some. Who wants to feel obligated to tip every accordion toting dude that walks by? Not me. Unfortunately my son LOVES them and as soon as he hears them coming he starts to dance. Not just a shake of the head dancing but a full on dance that causes people to stare at us as the street performer zeros in on us. Easy money. How could we not tip when Evans is clearly enjoying their services? There is the key word people. Services. At LEAST these people are playing an instrument. They are annoying at best but I can live with that.
Last night Deaner, Evans and I went out to eat. As we approached the door to the restaurant this gypsy lady who was begging on the street leaned over and opened the door for us and then shook her little cup at us. I found it hard not to show my annoyance since I clearly could have opened the door myself and I did not feel guilty telling her sorry. After being tucked away in our booth in the back of the restaurant and served our appetizer we were approached by a little girl who looked to be about 8 years old and was dressed respectably. She stood at the end of our table holding her hand out for money. I was simply appalled. Come on! We are eating dinner here! Deaner and I both said "no, sorry" and she made a pouty face before then pointing to our appetizer plate, that we hadn't even touched yet, and ASKED FOR OUR FOOD. Now some of you might start to feel bad here and say that this was just some poor starving child who NEEDED our food. You might feel differently when I tell you that upon us telling her "no" again, she stood at the end of our table and said "f@*k you both". I just sat there like a dummy not knowing what to do until thankfully Deaner came to his senses and told her to go away. We received another "F*#K you BOTH" on her way out the door. Something like this would have never happened in the States. Why? Because business owners don't allow beggars to come in to their restaurants and hassle their patrons like that. Infuriating. The restaurant where we had dinner two nights ago told two different people asking for money to get out and leave us alone. It's not going to be a hard decision when deciding next time where to eat.
I might have been able to shake the shock of being cursed at by a child but when a different child held open the door for me today and then demanded money, I ceased feeling bad. It wasn't the act of holding the door open that irritated me so much. It was the fact that when I glanced at the child, all I could see was a nice green alligator staring at me from the chest of his shirt. Trust me, if you are going to ask me for money, you really shouldn't do it while wearing a Lacoste shirt. I don't think I need to say anymore.
So there are my thoughts on gypsies in Brussels for the week. Brussels is great but I think we are going to take a break from each other for a little while. I need some time to reignite the love affair I have with this city!