No Longer Part Of The Charity Machine

, , , , , , | Right | September 2, 2017

(My husband and I both work at a community centre, which provides emergency relief [food vouchers and parcels, help to get medications and pay bills such as rent, electricity, etc.] generally only four times a year, but some people take advantage of this. I have just been promoted from a volunteer to a paid worker, while my husband has been a paid worker for two years. We go to a local pub for dinner to celebrate. After dinner, we decide to put a couple of dollars in the pokies. My husband goes to the bathroom and to get drinks while I choose a machine. There are only handful of people in the gaming room. I find a machine I like and put a couple of dollars in it, and on my second spin I win some free games. I notice an older lady standing behind me, watching as I win over $60. As I go to play it down to an even $60, I can hear her mumbling behind me but don’t pay any attention. I happen to get the free games again, taking my total up to just over $100. I get a coin bucket and push “collect” when I’m pushed off my chair. I look up to see the old lady grabbing dollar coins from the machine.)

Me: “What the h***?”

Lady: “This is my machine. You’re playing my machine, so this is my money.”

(I’m confused, as there was no credit on the machine or reserve sign up. My husband and the gaming manager race over to help me.)

Husband: “What the heck are you doing to my wife?”

Lady: “She’s trying to steal my money. That’s my machine.”

Manager: *after radioing for security* “Ma’am, you weren’t playing a machine. I have to ask you to give this lady her money back and leave, unless she would like to press assault charges. You will also be banned from here.”

Lady: “No, this is my machine, I always play this machine. I spend more here in a week than they’d make in a whole month. You ban them.”

(By this time, two security guards have arrived and my husband has helped me up, I decline to press charges and she is escorted out, screaming about how it’s her machine. We are given vouchers for drinks and the restaurant. The next week at the community centre, I’m being trained in the welfare side of things, as I had only worked in the second hand shop before, when the lady from the pub comes in. She doesn’t recognise me, but I pull aside the senior worker who is training me and explain what has happened. She explains that this lady comes in every week demanding food vouchers, payment for her prescriptions, and help with rent and bills. They had already decided to just give her a food parcel and advise her on financial counselling if she came back within three months, but after I explain what happened at the pub, this is what the senior worker does.)

Senior Worker: “I’m sorry Mrs. [Lady], but we are unable to assist you anymore. I can give you the numbers of some other places that may be able to help you.”

Lady: “What? No, you are a charity; you have to help me. I need food vouchers and these bills paid now.”

Senior Worker: “I’m afraid that, no, we don’t have to help you, as we generally only assist every three months, and if it’s more than that we only give food parcels. You have been here every week for the last three months, demanding assistance. I’m sorry; we can’t help you anymore for the next 12 months.”

Lady: “What? This is an outrage. How am I meant to pay my rent? How am I meant to eat? I have diabetes, you know. If I die because of not eating, it’s all your fault.”

Senior Worker: “Ma’am, as I said, I’ve got a list of numbers here that may help you, but can I suggest not spending more in a week than I make a whole month at [Pub]?”

(I tried not to laugh as the lady looked between me and the senior worker. She finally recognised my husband and me as another worker arrived to escort her out, all while she was screaming how it was her machine and her money, and how she was going to die because we wouldn’t give her food. The manager contacted other services in the area to warn them about her.)

1 Thumbs
947