Issue with Tissues

TissuesS$4.25 gets you a huge bag of 80 packs of pocket tissues from redmart.com.

You can probably get them at even cheaper rates elsewhere.

Itinerant tissue sellers typically sell three packs of pocket tissues for a dollar.

If you do the Math, 80 packs of pocket tissues can net over 26 bucks.

Minus the 4.25 cost, and minus the fact that many buyers don’t take all three packs – that’s a heck of a lot of profit. Peanuts, but profitable nevertheless.

Is this why there are so many tissue sellers these days?

To me, tissue selling is a disguised form of begging.

In this day and age, is there still a need to beg?

In this first world country, ranked as one of the most prosperous on the planet, richer per capita then the US or the UK, there are supposedly all kinds of schemes to assist the poor and needy.

Begging in this country is surely not a necessity but a choice.

These tissue sellers are getting extremely aggressive.

Not only are they showing up at markets, food courts as well as at bus and SMRT stations, they are bold enough to even walk into malls and right inside restaurants.

At JEM and Westgate in Jurong, they seem to proliferate – some go so far as to wave their pocket tissues right in my face while I eat. Emails to these two malls received only lame, patronizing replies saying they are sorry about the situation and will look into it; you know, the usual bullshit. The tone of these emails is basically “Fuck off, trouble maker, we have better things to do than to deal with your stupid emails.”

During a recent evening, in the span of half an hour, I was accosted by two aggressive tissue sellers at JEM, both seem to be mainland Chinese. They were able-bodied and could well be gainfully employed.

Surely malls have their own CSR programs and do not support these peddlers – their presence is a blight on our image as a civilized society. And surely JEM simply cannot afford any more negative publicity. The mall is infamous for all kinds of mishaps happening there. (The most recent case was stinking sewerage raining down on people eating at Din Tai Fung. Oh, who flunked dung?)

I have no doubt there are still unfortunate people in our society who require help, and may not know where to get it,  but when a person forgoes pride and dignity and degenerates into a beggar, albeit behind the façade of being a tissue seller, are we somehow inadequate in meeting the subsistence needs of the underprivileged?

Truth be told, I am saddened more than I am annoyed by the sight of these poor souls.

Are they genuinely in need or are they pawns of some syndicate? We have heard of fake Buddhist monks being sent from overseas to beg before, haven’t we?

It’s time we stem this tide of undesirables.

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