Yesterday I missed him because he did not come to me while I was having my morning coffee. This morning I saw him again! He was going around from table to table asking for a stick of cigarettes. The first guy refused him. The second guy gave him one stick. Then he went to the third guy. He also gave him one stick. I observed him closely.

He was about 45 years of age. His hair was unkempt. Average in height. Then, he came to my table. He smiled at me and I returned that smile. Suddenly, he saw that I was smoking a rolled cigarette. He did not ask me for one stick and try to bypass me. I smiled at him and invited him to sit down.

“Want to have a cup of coffee or breakfast on me?” I offered. “No, thank you,” he replied politely. “Why are you going around asking for cigarettes?” I asked him point-blank. He was truly surprised! “No one has asked me that question! You are the first one!” he said.

Then he continued, “I have money for food but I don’t have enough money for cigarettes!” Ah, that was a very good answer. “How many cigarettes must you have to smoke in one day?” “Oh, not many; 7 to 8 sticks a day!” came the reply.

He was quite a choosy smoker. I offered my rolled up cigarettes (I rolled the tobacco on a piece of paper) and asked him to take some sticks. He declined politely, saying, “I don’t smoke these! Thank you.” He went on his way to another table…….

This is the first time I encounter someone begging for cigarettes instead of cash. Is this a new trend? I just wonder…….

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