Twitter discussed the possible reasons why he rejected tea, with some claiming he was rude to the woman who offered him the beverage.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 5, 2021. It has since been updated.
Never make an assumption on behalf of someone else. Twitter user @MilkyLazarus learned that the hard way after a homeless person refused her offer of tea, and said he preferred coffee. It took her a moment to realize that the homeless man did have the right to refuse what she was offering. She posted about the incident and added that she regretted assuming he'd prefer tea.
"A homeless man today refused to take a tea I bought for him because he didn’t drink tea. He said he preferred coffee," wrote the woman, before adding, "That humbled me because I shouldn’t have assumed that he would like tea, I should’ve asked." The tweet sparked a discussion on the matter with some arguing that the homeless man should have taken the tea offered as he was not in a position to be picky, while many others, argued that it was wrong to assume the homeless man didn't have a choice. The tweet garnered more than 13,000 retweets and 135,000 likes.
A homeless man today refused to take a tea I bought for him because he didn’t drink tea - he said he preferred coffee. That humbled me because I shouldn’t have assumed that he would like tea, I should’ve asked.— milks (@MilkyLazarus) April 27, 2021
Twitter user @MilkyLazarus said she was out and wanted to get something to eat for the homeless man she had seen on the street. It appears she asked him if she could get some food and a beverage for him and he said yes. He accepted the food she had gotten him but realized she had got tea. He refused the tea, telling her that he prefers coffee. She was taken aback but quickly realized the mistake was on her part. "In my defense, I assumed everyone liked tea. It was part of a meal deal for something he did ask for. Tea was the first go-to," she tweeted.
I "get" the "beggars can't be choosers" position but that doesn't mean WE can't choose to be kinder and offer them a choice? Even if it's just "chicken or fish in your sandwich"?— Amy Salieri (@SalieriSin) April 27, 2021
The phrase 'beggars can't be choosers' in itself is demeaning but many argued that the homeless couldn't be picky, arguing that some help was better than no help and they should be taking it. A majority argued that taking away their choice stripped them of their dignity, and dehumanized them. A small faction presented a hypothetical situation of the roles reversed and asked if you were a victim of poverty, would you like it if people forced their charity upon you without considering factors such as choice, allergies, needs, etc. A small group of people accused the homeless man of being rude by not appreciating the effort put in by the woman. Many shared their own experiences of sharing food with homeless people.
One time my friends mom offered a homeless man a donut. He refused. I later told my dad this story and he just simply said “what if he was diabetic”. I’ll never forget that— Hershey26 (@spiritualhazee) April 27, 2021
One Twitter user, Krissy McCalla, wrote about her own experience of a similar interaction, "I work at a restaurant, at the end of the night I take leftovers home, I end up giving it away to the homeless. I try to stick to chicken and veg meals. One person came to the restaurant and asked me to bring breast meat cause his cholesterol is high," she wrote, adding that she was initially a little skeptical about the entitlement but then realized that his health matters. Another user commented that the whole point of helping someone was to help them and not use the act as a means to make yourself feel better. They wrote, "It's sad how so many of y'all are missing the point. Clearly, you aren't used to helping someone, except to stroke your ego. Helping others on their own terms may sound selfish, but it's just acknowledging that they are people and not just charity."
What’s ridiculous is that you’re offended he didn’t facilitate making you feel good about yourself by accepting the food. Many people would not trust food from a random stranger on the street - what makes you feel that he’s obligated to just because he’s homeless?— meg (@megan_yaukey) April 27, 2021
Another user argued that the best way to help someone is to give them money, so they can help themselves to what they want as opposed to you getting them what you assume they want. They wrote, "That’s why I always give them the money. Because even if they go buy drugs with it or go buy beer that beer or that dose of drugs may be the only thing getting them through the day. Life is hard so it’s not my business what a homeless person decides to do with my charity."
He should have taken the Tea and appreciate your efforts and give someone else that tea ... i am not poor but i cannot turn down somebody else's efforts Never🙅♂️— Boitumelo Ramahali (@BucksRamahali) April 27, 2021
But we are not the same as people
And if you’re gonna swing the whole “If he wants a choice he should work harder to afford that luxury” just stfu because I’m not gonna listen. NOBODY chooses poverty and equally so nobody deserves to have CHOICE stripped from them and called “a luxury”— death is a painkiller (@fwancus1) April 27, 2021