So earlier this month, I took a trip up north to Edinburgh… let’s face it, for a Londoner everywhere is ‘up north’ but in the case of Edinburgh, it’s justified! “It’s gonna be very chilly”, said every other person I told about the trip, but as time grew closer and temperature levels dropped, I kinda understood their concerns! Hardly your ideal getaway considering. Despite these fears, it was such a lovely experience. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people and quite an amicable experience considering my earlier reservations. One of those “I’ll definitely love to come back in Summer” type vibes. Despite this though, there were a couple drawbacks for example, I felt my ‘four star hotel’ was a tad three starrish… I’m boujee now obviously. Also having numb fingers and toes due to the cold got a tad much after a while. I reeeally shut down when my extremities are cold. However, the biggest shock for me was the amount of poverty on display.
The moment I left Edinburgh Waverley station I was greeted by an ex-serviceman begging for loose change on the street. Obviously I can’t definitively prove he was an ex-servicemen but the transcript and service details he held definitely looked compelling. A man who potentially served in the armed forces out here on the streets of Edinburgh struggling to make ends meet; that was hard to grasp. I ended up giving him a bit of money, hardly earth shattering but as you’d imagine, a man in his position was all too grateful. Unfortunately this wasn’t an uncommon sight; beggars and homelessness seemed to be a reoccurring theme. Poverty was the wallpaper plastered all over the streets of Edinburgh. This was definitely something the ‘Welcome to Edinburgh’ brochures failed to mention; a reality that seemed to be omitted from every review of the city I stumbled upon prior.
Every other corner you turned exposed this harsh reality. It did get me thinking how were these people so different from I? How many wrong turns was I away from this sort of living becoming a reality? I couldn’t help but feel guilty about the situation. I was there pondering about how my hotel had managed to finesse an extra star or two on their ratings that I failed to consider the zero star conditions that others so closeby were facing. The hotel food was hardly Gordon Ramsey-esque but it was definitely good to know there was food on the table. The cold doesn’t seem too bad when you know the warmth is awaiting you. Don’t get me wrong, poverty can be found anywhere and the problem isn’t exclusive to Edinburgh, but perhaps seeing this realism in such a condensed area really put things into perspective. For whatever reason, I wasn’t able to let this drop.
A lot of people are reluctant to acknowledge the less fortunate. Giving someone money with the fear that moments later they’re be clinging onto an alcoholic beverage or using recreational drugs is always a wind up. I remember this homeless guy claiming he only asked for money from other black people ‘cos he never trusted non-blacks, and it was at that point I knew it was foolish decision making which had led him astray. He obviously didn’t need the coin that badly. Imagine being down on your luck but still being picky about who you asked for help from? I pray to God that I never experience pride that deep ‘cos this life is not for struggle. Growing up, the bailiff’s were quite familiar with my home address but you know what, at least I had one! With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things. This trip definitely made me take a step back and appreciate the foundation I had ‘cos things can flip on its head at any moment. We all go through problems, but perhaps focusing on the positives more often will provide a better outlook.
A ‘Not So’ Good Deed: https://joeoriade.com/2018/10/13/a-not-so-good-deed/