Arguing with Myself: Of Mendicancy and Mercy

Last night, I was on my way home after delivering food for the office night-shifters when I decided to drop by Jollibee, a local fast food chain, to get something to eat. Just outside the store was an old lady (probably in her early sixties), sitting. She wasn’t begging nor asking anything from the people passing by; she was just sting there. Wishfully looking at the people dining inside.

I went inside the store to get the food I was planning to eat, and along with that, I got a burger for the old lady sitting outside. After my transaction, I proceeded to give the burger to the old lady, much to her surprise. I was really happy to see her smile as I handed her the burger. I left her smiling, holding the burger on her chest. I smiled as I left.

Just as I turned my back, I heard some of the customers half-shouting at the guard. I turned around to see what happened, and I saw the guard “confiscated” the burger that I gave to the old lady. I was indignant, infuriated even. I hurried to the old lady and almost-yelled at the guard. I asked him why he “confiscated” the burger, to which he answered, “Bawal man gud mamalimos diri, Sir.” (Begging is strictly prohibited here, Sir.) I was even more infuriated. The old lady wasn’t begging; she was just there sitting. And I bought the burger specifically for her; I gave it to her wholeheartedly even without her asking for it because I saw how she looks at the people dining inside!

At that point, I was entirely mad. I pointed out to the guard that the old lady did not ask me for it, that I gave it to her because I wanted to; that even when begging isn’t allowed, he has no right to take the burger away because I already paid for that—it was mine, and I gave it to her; thus, it was hers already. My voice raised, and it called the attention of one of the food servers. He came to us and asked what was happening. I told him about what I did and what the guard did. He explained to me that begging is not allowed in their store, but I responded that the old wasn’t begging; the burger was a gift from me. I felt like we were talking in circles. I ranted against the guard’s taking of the burger when he has no right to do so, that he could have just politely told the old lady to move away from the store premises. I did not stop until they apologized to me and to the old lady. The manager refused to get involved.

If I had not been too tired and too sleepy, I would have taken the old lady inside the store to let her dine to her heart’s desire. But I wanted to sleep and relax; I was shaking from the incident. Instead, I ushered the old lady away from the store and told her not go near the store again, lest they will give her more troubles. She was on the brink of crying. Instead of feeling satisfied that I was able to help, I felt really mad at the guard and the entire Jollibee staff.

I do understand that mendicancy is against the law, but there are times when mercy is above the law. What they did was inhumane. Treating the old lady with disrespect and confiscating the food given to her by someone else. I do understand that the company forbids them to give away the marked out and overrun food, but they have no right to confiscate the food I purchased. Yes, it was just 29.00 PHP, but it was a big help for a hungry old lady.


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