in Alles komt goed


It’s about ten in the evening. pissed off because I had to take something somewhere. A useless activity (live is full of it).

When you have that flow of adrenaline you can drive fast (by bike). So I thought I could shorten the time lost, “back in half an hour or so”. Until someone waves and shouts at me.”Are you familiar with this neighbourhood?!”

I’m not. And the man asking looked shabby and was desperately needed to get in contact with water. But I stopped, even though I was going full speed ahead.

Why stop? I wasn’t desperately in need of human contact? I knew stopping would cost me money, not something I have plenty off (not that I’m complaining).

At first he asked me for directions, but that was not his main goal. He told me he needed a place to sleep tonight and had no money. Went to all the social institutions in Amsterdam. At the places where it was free he had to be a hard-drug addict or mentally ill. So he was back on the street.

He needed 5 euro to get in the salvation army hostel. So I decided to pull my wallet. Empty. Luckily for him there was a bank across the street. Machine out of order. He knew a bank a 100 meters further (asked me directions before). So we walked and I asked him why he had no money. The story begins….

Classic start. He was celebrating his new job at the pub. All of a sudden, wallet gone with all his official documents in it. No money no bed. He went to the police to get in contact with the embassy. Has an appointment on friday (21st of may). He had to bridge the time from monday till friday.

Most off the time I’m interested in people and this time was no different. Always curious. Most off the time it’s not that different from mine. And still the present state is of him and me are miles apart.

He came from Zuid-Afrika, the company he worked for went bankrupt. He wrote about his grief to a friend working in Amsterdam that he met in Berlin 13 years ago. This friend said there was a job opening at the university in Amsterdam. So he wrote them a letter. Telling them of his capabilities. If it was true what he wrote them he was more than welcome.

So he took the change and took a plane to Amsterdam. And yes, they offered him a job and they signed a contract. Celebration was in order. And after a long night in the town he discovered he lost his wallet. From that time on he left the system, and entered the world of beggars and vagabonds. It’s that easy.

What kind of work are you going to do from the second of June? Hardware engineer; setting up systems, networks and keep them running at the university of Amsterdam. I was totally surprised, at this stage I was still thinking I was listening to a good thought up story.

Crazy, we now had something in common. The love for computers and internet. At first I thought that it couldn’t be true, but as we started talking I knew he told the truth. How is it possible that someone with that kind of knowledge walks on the street without a place to sleep? An image came to mind of a man (US) begging for food holding a sign “will program for food”. Then he’s telling me he has 3 computers (more than me) 2 running unix (one of them a laptop) and one apple Macintosh!

He taking me for a spin, and I’m going for it. Saying my 10 euro will be a good investment, and he will come and upgrade my network. Do you have 2 euros for some ‘patat’? He gave me his e-mail address at and I will write him the second of June and see what happens.

Twelve euros for a great story of 45 minutes. Not a bad deal. A plumber has a bigger hourly rate.


Wat vind jij?