Recently, this image has been floating around on Facebook:
It tends to be accompanied by this ridiculously saccharine text:
This story will warm you better more than a coffee on a cold winter day…
“We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter.
“‘Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended.’
“They pay for their order, take the two and leave.
I ask my friend: ‘What are those “suspended” coffees?’
‘Wait for it and you will see,’ she replies…
“Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made for three lawyers – three for them and four ‘suspended’.
“While I still wonder what’s the deal with those ‘suspended’ coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café.
“Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks ‘Do you have a suspended coffee?’
“It’s simple – people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage.
“The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.”
Please Share 🙂 Why not ask your local cafe if it’s something they’ll consider participating in?
Social networking media seems to be full of these would-be heart-warming stories that leave my heart icy but make my blood boil!
This ‘suspended coffee notion’ is arrant stupidity. Maybe in an ideal world where everyone was honest, it’d work… Oh, wait! In an ideal world there would be no people in need of charity, so it’d simply be pointless.
So why my opprobrium?
Firstly: the coffee shop owner will, nine times out of ten, simply pocket the extra profit and, when the poor person comes in asking for ‘suspended coffee’, will say ‘nah, sorry, mate, not today.’ After all, dirty, smelly people are not good for business. Moreover, if the solicitors and estate agents and other affluent types, get scared off, there’ll be no one left who can afford to make these farcical but generous gestures.
Secondly: people who can easily afford to buy their own coffees, but happen to dress scruffily (and some of the wealthiest people I know make your average tramp look a picture of sartorial elegance), will take advantage of such freebies — after all, they didn’t get where they are to day, as CJ would have said, by wasting money on clothes, coffees, or compassion for the less fortunate.
Thirdly: instead of paying £2.60 or whatever for a posh coffee for a homeless person, why not give the money directly to him? Because he’ll spend it on booze and drugs (assuming it’s possible to buy any booze or drugs for £2.60)? Oh, OK, fair point. Then buy the person a sandwich and a cheaper coffee, or give the money to a homeless shelter, where for the price of one designer cappuccino (whether grande or venti or any other pretentious Italian appellation), a homeless person could be given a reasonably nutritious meal and a bed for the night.
I am not against helping the less fortunate. I am not the kind of person who tells homeless people to ‘get a job’ (lord, I know how hard that is). I have nothing but respect for those who give up their time and/or money to make a genuine difference to the lives of people less fortunate than themselves. But this kind of gesture is the same as, albeit more expensive than, clicking ‘like’ on a ‘Like if you want to end homelessness’ post on FB: abso-freakin’-lutely pointless. Grr.