I Never Give You My Money
Taiwan has a problem with beggars. Some of them are professional beggars, spending most of their day panhandling. Others are, for lack of a better word, panhandling prostitutes. Bad men gather a troop of unfortunates and make them beg. At the end of the day they take most of the money and give little to nothing back to beggars. It is for this reason that most Taiwanese don’t give money to beggars.
There is a third kind of beggar that is a common sight in Taiwan, Buddhist monks. Part of being a monk as I understand it, is begging for money so you can eat. This is great and in no way do I want to begrudge someone a meal. However, a gray robe does not always a monk make. This is this the situation I found myself, face-to-face with a monk/beggar.
He held his bowl up to me and said, “Thank you,” before I had even given him money. I took a second to take in the situation. He was standing in front of a vegetarian restaurant placed between an organic food co-op and a New Age/Buddhist book store. Obviously he new where to go to find generous, read affluent, Buddhists. Perhaps some beggars can be choosers.
Upon further inspection I noticed the monk was wearing a scooter helmet. Upon even further inspection he was wearing headphones from his iPod. I decided my money was better spent elsewhere.
“Not today,” I said and walked on.