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Monday, September 27, 2010

It's the Lack of Real Effort That Makes Me Shake My Head...

The young man begging in front of the LRT station is wearing a brand new pair of Timberlands; clean, fashionable jeans; and a very nice woolen greatcoat.

This outfit does not work, however, with the hand-lettered and ripped cardboard boxtop he is holding: Any Amount You Can Give, it says, God Bless.

"Anybody got any money?" he shouts. "Ma'am! Ma'am! You got any spare change?"

Even in my sleep-deprived, early-morning state, I can't help but wonder: there’s a “spare” kind of change? I don’t think I’ve ever had “spare” change...

I would like to try it, though.

And I can't help but wonder how much he’ll pull in this morning. What are the odds that anyone will be moved to charity by the sight of this well-built young man in the dark gray woolens and immaculate boots?

Not good. Not good odds.

For me, it’s all in the approach. I mean, he’s doing it, but he’s doing it without love.

It's hard to want to give money to someone who looks better rested - and better dressed - than you.

And that sign! That sign is a travesty. You don't come to work unprepared! Me, I work every day. I get up, I brush my hair, I wear sensible shoes for the walk to the bus. I’ve agreed to sell my time and my brain by the hour, and I look like it, so if this guy is going to look me right in the eyes while hollerin' for money, he could at least provide something of value.

I'll tell you what: Amuse me. Tell me a joke. Stand on your hands. Sell me a map of the downtown skyways. Dress the part, if you're going to try to pull me into this charade. You look like you just stepped out of Gentlemen's Quarterly.

He wants my “spare change”?

Come on, man.


wozzel said...

that irritates me more than anything.

the well dressed looking for money.

why? and, is my "spare" change going toward his dry cleaning?

I wrote something similar, but different this morning. Do go and have a look see :)

ellen abbott said...

Yeah, me too.

Fred Miller said...

Saw these guys nearly every day when I was trucking. Wanna good comeback? Ask them for money. Get a good story about the root canal you need. Or your pet chimp needs blood pressure medication. Baffle them with B.S. Makes your day go better.

Who Gave Justin Beaver a Swirlie?

furiousBall said...

I do try to help folks less fortunate that I am, but I don't work in a city where buskers and panhandlers are found.

Pearl said...

wozzel, I don't know what he needed the money for, but he appeared to be pretty together: well groomed, bright-eyed, well dressed. It really bothered me that he just stood there yelling for money.

ellen, :-)

Fred, well I DO have an appt for a crown coming up. (the dental kind, as opposed to the regal kind...)

furious, I hear you. I've given money, I almost always toss in for a particular accordion player downtown and for this one guitar player. There's a guy that plays a cardboard guitar on an exit near my house that I gave a $5 to not too long ago, but he's another post. :-)

Sweet Cheeks said...

If I don't buy someone's 'begging act' I tell them I've just spent my last five dollars on my medicine for my ailing mother. Then I offer them a mint or a cough drop.

Rude? Maybe.

Is my conscience clear? Definitely.

Simply Suthern said...

A friend of mine stopped at an intersection where a Man had a "Will Work For Food" Sign. He told the man he had a small barn with horses and would be willing to pay reasonably for a couple days labor. The man asked for his address and said he would be out the next day and give him a quote. Huh??
I know there are real needs out there and ya wanna help, but you dont know which are real.

Symdaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Symdaddy said...

There was this old man ringing the bell at the Pearly-Gates (not your house dear).

Jesus answers 'the door' and says "Can I help you?"

The old man says "Yeah,I'm looking for someone."

Jesus laughs and says "You're joking! There must be billions of people up here now!"

The old man smiles and says "Oh that won't be a problem 'cos the guy I'm looking for has holes in his hands and his feet".

Jesus looked surprised and ask "Father?"

The old man looks hard and Jesus and says "Pinocchio?"

Now gimme yer damned change lady!

Big Fat Gini said...

There are few things that irritate me more than that. I think the only thing that really ranks higher is the guy that stands on the side of the exit ramp on the way to Houston Hobby Airport and insists on washing my windshield every dern time we go down there, even when he's clearly seen me yelling "no" and frantically waving my hands.

One time, a friend of mine wanted to help out a man she'd seen at the corner for a few weeks. She had just stopped at McDonald's, so she rolled the window down and offered him some food. His response?

"I don't eat trans-fats or fried food."

Okay then. I guess you're not that desperate.

Sam Liu said...

Too true, Pearl, too true! Often the people asking me for money on streets are far jollier than I am. Though, I do love buskers (musically capable buskers, that is). Do you use the word buskers? I'm not sure if its a British term, well, it means someone who plays music on the streets for money, in case you don't know. You see, I don't mind them as much, at least they're doing something productive :)

Cheeseboy said...

The homeless are so very astute nowadays.

Gigi said...

The other morning, I watched as a man got out of a very nice truck in a parking lot and carried his sign to the corner. I was amazed. And no, I didn't give him any money. I realize that it's possible that some of these people on street corners are really needy - but I figure I give money to charities that help these people.

Argent said...

Don't get me started! I've been connec by Fake Stranded Guy (and Girl). I'm soft in the head.

Erin said...

I'm torn with these kinds of people. Obviously if he's better dressed than me, he can go suck an egg, but usually they look dirty and drugged out. I think there's no amount of spare change in my pocket that is going to help that kind of person.


OMG I am so going to try that!! If I had a cute dog would that help?

Cloudia said...


Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Stacy Q said...

My brother said he always packed his lunch in a paper bag so on those busy days if he didn't have time to eat it he could hand it to someone begging. He said he did actually have some people get excited about it and dig in... Those are the ones you want to go back and give a buck to. The ones who yell and throw the bag after you... not so much.

Symdaddy said...

In Cardiff a few years ago, a homeless man would sit outside the stores and shops in Queens St.

He never really bothered anyone too much and was very polite to anyone going past.

He was followed by fraud investigators from HM Revenue & Customs on one occasion to a multi-storey car park where he got into a Mercedes and drove home to his four bedroom house.

In one day he was earning, albeit in pennies, far in excess of £300. He was also claiming a lot in benefits.

Needless to say, he is now on vacation at one of Her Majesties residences.

yogurt said...

hrmm.. i have always have problem doing this kind of charity. for some reason i always feel like it is only a scam.

Pearl said...

I've been taken via the "I'm stranded and I just want to go home" bit -- which I realized when I ran into her just two blocks away and telling another woman the very same thing she told me.

And THANK YOU, Sam, for the definition of "busker". No, Americans don't use that term and I've wondered! If anyone comes across the movie "Once", I highly recommend it: Glen Hansard of the group The Frames is a busker...

Gaston Studio said...

I'd be selling those Timberlands.