THIS story is three years old and appeared on Reddit.
I have republished it unedited because the writer is a great story teller (better than me).
Even though this is old – it’s still very much relevant to Belfast today. Initiatives such as ‘The Welcome Organisation’ and ‘suspended coffee in Cafe Booglaoo’ may ease the burden of the homeless slightly.
Here goes – thanks Wuzzie and hope you enjoyed your time in Ireland. By the way, does anyone know who Tommy is?
Well first of all, i don’t want this to come out as a bragging game or anything similar. Or an epiphany for that matter. It just goes to show that even if you have money in your wallet, and a flashy mobilephone in your pocket, they don’t do much use if you cannot use them.
To try and minimize all personal issues with anyone involved (in case my co-workers are redditors). Well, they all know what happened… Anyway. I’m sidetracking here.
We went as a group from The Republic of Ireland, to Belfast (Which is Northern Ireland and even though it’s on the same island, it has Sterling pound as currency, and not Euro’s.)
We arrived at our hostel, and we got ready to hit the town. Last thing i remember leaving the hostel was: “-Did everyone write down the address, in case we get lost?” in a joking manner. psscchh I have the address plotted in my gps on the phone. No sweat.
So we go out for some pubs and have a good time. Until the time we hit a nightclub, and i was the only one denied entrance. Reasons unknown. Doorman claimed i was too drunk. Luckily i had one of the coworkers number, so i called him. After about three tries, he finally understood what happened and came to talk with me. “-Get some air, and come back”
Okey. It’s not the first time i’ve been given that advice and made it in at other venues.
So i start to walk around the block and.. wait? Where was the place again? I was completely lost. So as i muttered along i asked some guy of the street for a decent pub, he took me waaay off the chart. But it was a nice pub, and had nice people hanging out, so i stayed for a while.
An hour later i figured i needed to get myself home, so i called one of the guys who went home early. “-Sure, i’ll wait up. No prob.” So out i went. It had started to snow even more than the snow that was earlier. And the frosty wind had picked up.
Everything looked the same. First visit in Belfast, and i get lost. Cra.. Ah wait! The gps! perfect. Roaming-shmoaming. I couldn’t care if the datacharges went sky high. I was freezing and i was dead sure it wasn’t far.
Only thing is that my battery was dead. Since my fancy touchscreen phone had all the gps, wifi, bluetooth and what have you – turned on.
I couldn’t even call my friend.
Starting to get a bit worried. It’s now about 3am on saturday morning. I checked my pockets. Great. No more pounds. Only euros. And i had no money on my visa.
As i started to ask the cabdrivers for direction it was like tossing a dice. “-You’re almost there mate, just around the corner.” “-Have no clue.” “-It’s not far.. About 20 minutes walk back the way you came.” And the story was the same. No one took me along, since i only had euros.
At one point i even got so desperate that i was thinking of starting to make such nuisence that i atleast could sleep in a cell for the night. But i didn’t see a single police officer all night.
As i was walking in yet a direction given to me by a cabdriver, i was halfway up into a housing complex, when i saw an elderly man coming along. It would later turn out that his name was Tommy. I could have called him Saint Tommy for all i know.
I asked him for directions, but even he didn’t quite know. But he was willing to take me to the nearest hotel. He looked a bit scruffy, and had a plastic bag with some horrid concoction of a drink. (i barely had a whiff and it could strip paint)
As we got to the hotel, it was fully booked, and the didn’t even open the front door.
“-Come on. I’ll show you. You can sleep at my place. No bother.”
So as we walk along through the streets, he stops in his tracks and goes: “-Well. here’s home!” And then he noticed that someone had stolen his blanket. “-Ah sh.. Come on! Time for some shoppin’ lad!” And we came to what i can only presume to be a home-less shelter. Because He was apparently well known by the staff. And they were not pleased about him trying to get a bed at 4:30 in the morning. And especially not bringing guests… 😉
So we got ourselves one big blanket each and was sent on our way. I’m usually quite a freezing guy. And i can get picky with how warm i want my room. But as we sat down and leaned towards the delivery-entrance to this store i just didn’t care. Yes the concrete was freezing cold, but to sit down. and have a warm blanket to cover you. I just didn’t care.
As i woke up a few hours later, Tommy was a bit buggered over me for stealing the heat from him, but apart from that we were all ok.
“-Time for coffee lad. You seem to need it. I’m buyin’!” So he bought me a cup of coffee, and wanted a few bucks for a new bottle. I gave it to him.
In general i hardly ever give money to beggars or homeless people just to prevent this. I do give money to organizations regularly.
As he later guided me to the nearest post-office (i still only had euros) the staff looked at us like poisoned rats. But as i picked up my wallet and started to dab with my euro-notes, they shined up. But Tommy stayed outside.
As i was done, and came out he gave me a pair of gloves. “-Got some money over.. And i thought we both needed gloves in this weather.” Spot on Tommy. I was freezing solid.
He then guided me to a taxi-rank, where i received the same greeting as in the post office. “-Got money?” “-Oooh.. step inside sir.”
The taxidriver then started to question me why i was hanging out with a guy like Tommy. “-He’s a homeless guy, you know?”
“-Well, he might be, but last night he saved me arse. So that’s that.”
I paid the cabbie and got into my hostel. It was basically just around the corner from where i had spent the night. I had a long warm shower, charged my cellphone and checked my wallet. Nothing was gone.
Sometimes i guess you just have to trust people. Even if they are homeless and don’t have fancy phones, or big wallets.
TL;DR: I got lost in Belfast and a homeless person helped me.
Edit I’m not Irish, and i’m well aware of that i haven’t been the most prepared for this thing. I wasn’t overly drunk or staggering in any matter. And sadly, i have lost track on Tommy. I’m thinking of trying to get in touch with some shelters up there to see if they can forward some sort of christmas-present from me.