The other evening while buying the big issue I had a personal revelation. Sometimes in the past instead of buying The Big Issue I have given the vendor the amount of profit they would have earned by selling me the magazine and then a little tip as well, thinking that I have allowed them to sell one magazine to two people and saved myself a few Rands. (What a miser!)
But doing that completely missed the point of why a vendor sells The Big Issue. The very reason they are selling is so they don't have to beg, and by giving them a donation instead of taking the magazine has turned this person in to a beggar; in a flash bringing to their mind all the negativeness associated with that.
The people selling the magazine provide a service to many of their clients, even if it is as simple as a smile, some face paint, a little dance in the road when they make a sale or just remembering your face the next time you drive or walk by.
So I have resolved to buy The Big Issue from each vendor I see, even if it means buying the same issue several times over. I could buy five magazines a month from five different vendors for a whole year, and give each vendor R20. And the R14 profit in each persons pocket may not be much, but it may mean an extra meal on the table or some more electricity so that their children can do homework at night without working in the dark or worse, working by lantern which, when knocked over, can turn entire communities into smoking wrecks.
And I feel slightly better with the thought that when the vendors catch the train and bus and taxi and then walk to their stand in the morning they feel they are going to their public office, providing a service which is valued by their all customers.
And if I can make five people feel like that every month then I will be content.