Steve
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Unemployed
Thursday 1st December 2011, Cardiff.
We were walking back to the car park after taking my daughter to her favourite place for tea. The streets were cold and dark, but still busy with Christmas shoppers. I ventured that Cardiff must have one of the highest moustache to population ratios of any city in Europe. Up there with Istanbul, I reckon. The girls didn't really have an opinion on that.
The car park wasn't our usual one and it worked out pretty expensive. As I counted out the coins, I was asked for money by a young man sitting by the machine. I finished feeding the coins into the slot and returned to the car without giving him anything. I drove out into the street and mentioned the man to the girls and they agreed that I should go back and give him some money, but only if he was sober. I parked the car, ran back and struck up a  conversation. Steve had been sleeping rough for about a month. He'd been evicted and was spending a big chunk of his days at the council trying to arrange emergency accommodation. He said he liked a beer and the occasional joint but he was sober and I gave him 20 quid. I got a good feeling about Steve and asked him to meet me the next day at 12.30.
I returned the next day at the agreed time, but Steve wasn’t there. I waited until 1.05pm and walked up and down the street a few times. Maybe he had spent the money on booze and was still sleeping it off. Maybe he thought I was a weirdo. I found a piece of paper and jotted down my number and a message explaining that I wanted to help him. I used chewing gum to stick the note close to where we'd chatted the previous night. It was then that I noticed the sign right above where Steve had been sitting. DO NOT GIVE TO BEGGARS.
That evening, the house was as manic as usual: food, bath, piano practice spellings, reading and of course dancing. I'd sneaked into the bath after the girls were done and was just about managing to relax when my mobile rang. Only 3 people have my number – and 2 of them were upstairs – so I decided my mum could wait until I'd finished my bath. When I eventually checked my phone, I didn't recognise the number. I was about to give my mum a try, when the number lit up again. It was Steve! He apologised for not meeting me and said that he'd been caught up at the council. He asked me to ring him back and the line went dead. I immediately hit callback but there was no answer. I tried again. Nothing. I sat down to dinner with N and hoped that Steve would call.
After dinner – and with no news from Steve – I decided to have another go. N scooped together a large portion of meatball pasta for Steve and I bagged up a load of warm clothes. I jumped into the car and drove down to where he'd been begging but Steve wasn't there. I hung around for an hour or so and even checked the local payphones to see if any of the numbers matched the one I had for him, but for the second time that day I left the car park feeling flat and upset. Wearelucky was really starting to have a strange affect on my emotions. I drove home and cleaned up the meatball juice that had leaked all over the passenger seat.