Lady, pleeease, some rubles for bread.
I was at the bus station yesterday getting tickets to the Ukraine. I looked down at a little gypsy boy. Big brown eyes and all.
Well, I know his type.
Several years back I was new around here and a gypsy boy on the street wanted rubles for bread. He had a non-stop sing-songy way of begging and his yammering went on at length - he said he was soooo hungry, absolutely imploring. We were nowhere near a shop to buy anything, so finally I decided to just give him ten rubles, around 30 cents then, to get rid of him.
Moments later I saw him buying cigarettes from a street vendor. My language skills were limited in those days but in the end he understood that I was unhappy with his duplicity.
And that was a lesson to me. Rather than giving any money, go and buy the bread together. Most often, the gypsy backs off. Most often they just want the rubles.
So I said to Gypsy Boy, Wait until I’m done and then we’ll go buy some bread together.
His face fell and he gave up. Or so I thought.
Lo and behold, 20 minutes later when I turned away from the ticket window, up came Gypsy Boy. Still starving of course.
We spotted a food kiosk across the lobby and headed there. Pigs-in-the-blanket sounded good to him plus one for his brother. So we got the hot dog pastries, apple juice and bananas. The cashier seemed to know the boy. She managed a smile. The boy smiled. I smiled and was glad to make a kid happy. And off he ran.
Figured that was the end of that. Silly me
I left the building and headed toward the bus stop in the distance. Halfway there, I heard a clamor behind me and sure enough four gypsy girls were running to catch up.
Oh, you heard that I gave that boy some food? And now you’re wanting some food too? One was flashing a small religious icon, part of her sales pitch.
I’ll take four rolls please, I said to the lady selling fresh rolls nearby.
The gypsy girl sprinters were joined by two stragglers who were already salivating but first they got berated for pushing in on the deal.
Okay make that six rolls, and one for me. I was mildly annoyed but decided, better to err by buying a little something for somebody who didn’t really need it than the other way around.
After pocketing the rubles, the vendor and friend launched into a lecture for the gypsy girl gang in loud voices an octave higher than normal conversation.
You kids are not poor. Your mother sits over there counting all her rubles from begging and here we are, us pensioners, trying to make money honestly and you kids are making way more than we are telling people that you’re poor.
I got the idea.
Next time, I’ll handle those gypsy kids differently.
I’ll let them earn their food. They want something to eat and I want good photos. Those gypsys are quite photogenic after all so I'll let them pose and smile for a while. Or they can sing some gypsy folk songs. I’m easily entertained.
How about you? Tell about your experience with gypsies. Or, feel free to get down and dirty here - share about your own gypsy past. ;)