Sheltering from the torrential Devon downpours in the allotment shed, Dad and I shared a drink of tea from his old thermos flask, whilst having a lengthy discussion about some of the bar boys exploiting the tourists back in good old Tinky Town.
My Dad pointed out that I have never known real poverty; as in where my next meal is coming from and whether I will have a safe haven to sleep that night. God willing I will never have to, therefore, should I be so quick to judge someone else that faces these challenges and also has the responsibility of dependents to provide for as well. Many of these young men will return home without money when the wages promised them by unscrupulous bar owners, fail to materialise. The shame of returning to a family without any funds to see them through the winter is a bitter pill to swallow and can have a devastating impact on a household when there is no other form of earnings. I am sure that the burden of providing for beloved family members may compel some to make unethical choices without considering the consequences for others. Ahmed and I know only too well the repercussions of another’s dishonesty having once lost a deposit for an apartment to a deceitful landlord at a time when we could ill afford it.
Most of these young men will never hope to earn as much money as we spend on a family package holiday. They will have worked six or seven days a week and become dependent on tips or commission as their main source of income. During the course of their sixteen hour day, holiday makers will disclose in general conversation, that they have paid a substantial amount in excess baggage charges. They may even discuss the cost of putting a treasured family pet into kennels for the duration which again would seem extravagant and unnecessary to those that simply don’t have the funds available for a bus ticket home.
Some of them will have led a fairly traditional life and will be overwhelmed when they arrive to work at a resort for the first time. A few will find it difficult to return to their villages after a summer season spent amongst the worldly and wealthy tourists. They will soon learn that declarations of love will earn them a gift from the UK on the next visit or perhaps if they are very lucky a visa to a land where the streets are paved with gold. In addition they may have noticed that drunken holidaymakers seldom check their bar bills and have ample cash to spend; subsequently they will assume rightly or wrongly, that it is unlikely a few pounds will be missed. Although, I wouldn’t be fair, if I didn’t point out that not all Turkish bar boys subscribe to the same moral code of ethics.
My only foray into a life of crime was when as a small child I took a small roll of sellotape from the village Post Office. The guilt was a heavy burden for a six-year-old to bear and I almost immediately confessed. Subsequently, I was frogmarched back to same Post Office by my Dad to apologise and hand it back in person. Funnily, enough I was never again tempted to become light-fingered and my sister to this day, introduces me to her friends as my sister “the shoplifter”.
Of course, I realise now that my Dad was simply teaching me that ill-advised actions have consequences and that my motive was one of foolishness and not necessity. So tell me then can poverty truly justify, what at the end of the day, is simply thievery?
I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.