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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Tattoo-Faced Woman Underestimated How It Would Affect Her Career Options

Have you met Stephanie?

Stephanie lives in my neighborhood. She is the subject of much discussion and many e-mails, some from the police; a distinctly marked woman you can confuse with no other; a woman who has knocked on doors at 2:00 a.m. to ask for money.

I hadn’t seen Stephanie for a while, but I saw her Monday.

“Excuse me? Excuse me?”

I look up from my weeding in the front garden. This is not the first time I’ve been interrupted by people asking for money while I’m weeding. I blame it on my alluring dress of sweat pants and Elvis-commemorative-stamp tee-shirt.

Drives the peoples wild.

“Could I talk to you for a moment, ma’am? Ma’am, are you a Christian woman?”

Ah. This is not the first time I’ve heard this approach.

“No,” I said. “I’m not.” I went back to my weeding.

“Ma’am, do you have some money?”

I stop weeding. “Yes, I do. Now are you going to ask me to give my money to you?”

“Yes, ma’am, if you could just see your way clear to giving me a couple dollars, I haven’t eaten in two days.”

I look up at her. She doesn’t know that I know where she lives, that I know her last name, that we frequent the same bars. In spite of her willingness to beg for money and drinks – Mike bought her two drinks at Mayslack’s just to shut her up about how hard it was for her to find a job now that her face was covered with tattoos – she is a slender, well-dressed married woman who lives in a nice house. She may have issues, but not eating isn’t one of them.

“No, I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t have any money. I’m working in my yard.”

“You could run inside,” she offers.

I stare at her.

“You could run inside,” she repeats. “I’ll watch your, uh, your – “

“Spade,” I said. “And I don’t want to run inside.”

She keeps talking. Surely I am a Christian woman? Surely I can see my way to giving her whatever "spare" money I had? Maybe eleven dollars?

Persistence is her strong suit.

Eventually my husband comes around the corner.

“Sir? Sir?” Stephanie launches into her speech. Poor Willie has no defenses against brazen women; and after hearing less than a couple lines of her spiel digs into his pockets and gives her two dollars.

And with that, Stephanie jumped on her bike and was gone before you could ask – and feel free to join in here! – “Ma’am? Are you a Christian woman?”


@eloh said...

I had one of those many years ago, in a rented house down the street...two very jumpy starving children. It was sad. I was glad when they moved "got thrown out". I learned that those "two dollars" given in kindness does nothing but buy you a boat load of more begging.

ellen abbott said...

'Are you a Christian woman?...no, I am not.' Sorry to say that made me laugh out loud. But I am with you all the way. I have no trouble saying no to people like that (not that I won't cough up a dollar or two to someone who is obviously for real). I work too damn hard for my money to just give it away. Husband now, he'll empty his pockets, which is why he's not allowed to have money in his pocket.

f8hasit said...

"I'll watch your spade..."

I would have thought, "Sure ya will! As I hit you with it!"

I don't mind charity, but not when someone is so brazen about asking for it. I don't think that I could, even if necessary to ask others to provide for me. Call it pride. I just couldn't...

Poor Willy.
Great story!

darsden said...

Oh Pearl you have clue poor Willie in.. Man people like that drive me bananas I don't mind helping out people in need I do it all the time... But if they are asking like her...she is not in need she is just working her angle that is working on people like poor Willie and others.. She must be Stopped!

kimber p said...

interesting story Pearl, now when do we get to see you in your Elvis commemorative stamp tshirt?? lol too funny!!! unless it was the "later years Elvis" then it's just tragic..... lol

Maelstrom said...

You could have made her do some digging or weeding for her $2.

Jodie Kash said...

There's a woman, my age or a bit older but with more of an "older lady" look to her, that stands with a sign under the exit+stop light from the big Denver highway to the smaller Boulder highway. She's there day after day and time after time. Her walking shorts are always clean and hair done. She's plump around the middle and doesn't have a back pack or bed roll with her. I always wonder what her story is.

Pearl said...

I've been known to give money to people. Even gave a "stored value" bus card once to someone beating a drug addiction. I've never given to Stephanie, though -- she is well-cared-for, always clean -- she just seems to have no compunction against asking for things. I don't know what her deal is, exactly, but she's quite famous in our neighborhood. Not as famous as the one who presents a letter from a nearby church, one vouching for her need for breast cancer treatments. She's been pulling that scam for over a dozen years now!

Pearl said...

Maelstrom, you're right. Dammit. And to think I once actually did that (much earlier posting) with a man who was clearly homeless, very dirty, and sick (alcohol, maybe). He helped me clear a spot in the alley and we gave him enough for the shelter that night and a bottled water.

Scrappy Doo said...

I'll watch your spade..."

I would have thought, "Sure ya will! As I hit you with it!"

cant type LMAO!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a funny, quirky story!

powdergirl said...

Since 'back in the day' when I forget wihch Gov't made some huge spending cuts and pulled the plug on a number of mental health care facilities, our streets are riddled with self-medicating schitzophrenics (how the hell do you spell that?), so I do a lot of sharing from my pocket. But I hear you on the people who clearly have a roof of their own, and who did something so stupid to affect their future employment op's. They're on their own.
Facial tattoos? What was she thinking?


we always have this blind deaf chick that wanders around pat cattans with a note asking for money for her ratty little crafts. i mean, how do i know she's really deaf?

De Campo said...

For the rest of the week you should preface anything you’re about to ask Willie with “are you a good Christian?”

However, “are you a sucker?” might work equally as well.

Pearl said...

Speaking from the Cribs, the fun part is that you don't! We have a man in Minneapolis that passes you a note saying that he's a deaf-mute and can you help him with some change. Problem is that a man I know on the bus saw him last summer drunk and in a fight -- a verbal fight -- with another man.

Now, every time he sees my friend Al he runs in the other direction -- and Al always yells after him, "Hey! Tell me more about being a mute!"

deCampo, exactly.

Ann's Rants said...

The nerve. AS IF you would leave your spade unattended. AS IF.

If there is any doubt of some psychic connection we have, beyond our midwestern sensibilities and bustub toting experience...

I want you to know I wrote a post on my Muse (her name is Midge today) the SAME DAY you did. I just haven't finished or posted mine yet.

Freaky weird, Pearl. Freaky!

Kelly said...

Since when did "Christian" become a euphemism for "sucker?"

Cat said...

Hmmm, the difference between NE Mpls and SE Mpls is astonishing. Your well-off neighbors beg for your money and mine beg politicians to beg for your money on their behalf.

Barbara Blundell said...

Just catching up. Is it possible to buy or even rent a muse? Are they expensive ? Are you a Christian woman ?I am sadly lacking in that department and need inspiration . Should I try the library ?

Comedy Goddess said...

I'm a brazen woman. May I speak to your husband please? No? Just run inside and ask him if I can have some money. God loves those who are givers!

Face tattoos? Really? Christian ones? Must know more!

Madame DeFarge said...

I always find these situations difficult. I rarely want to give money, but it's easier to buy silence than to embark on a nugatory discussion about existentialism. I'm just not so good with people. My husband would have done much as yours did.

Douglas said...

Next time just say...

"I'll tell you what. I'll flip you for what you have in your pocket against what I have in my pocket. Ok? Got a quarter?"

Pearl said...

Ann, very nice. :-) I had not thought of the most obvious flaw in her thinking. The spade!

Kelly, good question. The phrase has actually become something of a joke – friends have been known to approach with an empty beer glass or an unlit cigarette: Pardon me, ma’am, but are you a Christian?

Cat, South sounds so much classier. :-)

Barbara, I recommend a plain cheese Danish and a hot cup of coffee (tea, if you like) and then an hour spent staring out the window, preferably a tree. I find it inspirational; and even if nothing’s happened, hey! At least you had a Danish!

Comedy Goddess, ‘tis true. Verily. Stephanie lives a good 10 blocks from me. Not bad looking, rides a nice bike, probably has a mental illness of some kind. But yes, half her face is covered with a tattoo not unlike Mike Tyson’s. She’s been arrested a number of times for begging door to door and for bothering people in restaurants for their drinks and/or leftovers.
It’s a classy neighborhood.

Madame deFarge, I used to give out money. I used to listen more often than I do now. It seems I’ve gotten a bit jaded. But when I “feel” something – and I’m not sure how to phrase this without sounding a tad nutty – I give. I gave a very very thin man holding a “Viet Nam Vet” sign a five-dollar bill about two months ago. I’ve seen him around, and you get the impression from looking at his face that he’s seen a lot. Might be a ruse, but it doesn’t feel like one, and I guess that’s good enough for me.

Douglas, that’s very funny!

Lynn said...

I wonder if beggers for spare cash are having a harder time these days.
I NEVER have cash!
Any cash.
Why would one NEED cash?
My "Free Card" as I call it, will get me anything I want.
You can even get a cheeseburger by swiping your card.


KMcJoseph said...

I used to have the same problem with ducks.

Beth said...

She should have planned ahead. Those tattoos are expensive. I'm sure she could have fed her family a steak dinner or two in place of one of the tats.

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

"It's hard to find a job with these tattoos on my face" should've been met with, "well, I'll bet that's a decision your Christian spirit regrets, eh?" and gone back to the weeding.

Your patience is to be commended, though.

Warty Mammal said...

Criminy. Loved your responses to her, though.

I find it hard turning down pleas, but I figure this is a good reason to donate to food banks and the like. They have bona fide screening procedures and counselors, trained to deal with situations I am not.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Your husband is just like mine. Anything to shut the person up..... so they can come back again when he's not home :-)

Barbara Blundell said...

Thanks for advice Pearl. Rather fancy a Danish.with or wothout cheese The coffee after would be nice too.

Pearl said...

Lynn, you know, I’ll bet they are. I do carry cash (I get a $40/week allowance!) simply because with the Free Card I’m not always prone to the dreaded SUBTRACTION aspect of the daily ledgers. :-) But the panhandlers in Minneapolis have changed a lot in the last five or so years. Some I have compassion for, but a recent news shows here showed how one guy – a man I’d given money to! – was actually making more a year than I was based solely on handouts!

KMcJ, oh, let’s not even talk about the !@#$@ing ducks. Web-footed larcenists!

Beth, maybe she got them as a Christmas present!

Chris, I would’ve thought the increasing number of neck tattoos would’ve opened some doors for the facially-marked, but no. :-D

Warty Mammal, I agree. I try to donate to food shelves once a month, if only a bag, usually chili beans and tomatoes – somehow I imagine someone looking at my donation and thinking “hmm. I could make chili!” And my clothes and shoes have always gone to Goodwill. It’s just the cash part that is difficult. And this year? No United Way donations. I don’t really like that, but there’s nothing I can do about that until I go back to full-time…

Joanna, exactly! He shut her up – but he’s also marked our house! (There’s probably a little drawing in the alley somewhere, perhaps a pictograph of a smiling man and a frowning woman, to remind her which house to go to!)

Barbara, I’m glad you liked my suggestion. :-D And really, the cheese Danish cannot be underestimated for its inspirational qualities!

Daisy said...

Yeah I'm like your husband. I seem to fall for any plea - apart from the Charity muggers with the clipboards, finally wise to their game!

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Next time tell her you'll give her a couple of dollars. If she lets you take her picture and post it on your blog. I'm dying to know what this girl looks like!!!

I'll tell you this tattoo thing has gotten WAY out of control! I mean, I did get my first one this year, but it's a very discrete, tasteful one on my ankle that is covered most of the year. I see some that just about roll my eyeballs back into my head. Especially the big things in the ears. Don't they realize what a career limiting move that is? You can't hide it, cover it up, or explain it. It's there for LIFE people! Get a clue.

And the ladies with those enormous tattoos on their chests. Oh.my.gosh! Personally, I think my chest is quite decorative enough.