The Homeless Guy Archive

To find the earliest blog posts from The Homeless Guy, go to This will show you almost all the posts that you cannot find here. There are some posts that have been lost for one reason or another. But between this website and that archive, you’ll find nearly all of them.

This particular blog post was written, September 14, 2002. My writing seems a bit goofy to me now. I wouldn’t write this the same way, my opinions, and my writing style have evolved since then. Still, it is what it is. Enjoy.

Let’s try it again –
You can’t live with ’em, you can’t shoot ’em.

Ok, so what’s the difference between a Panhandler and a Beggar? Well, to my mind there is a difference. The panhandler is stationary, his technique involves picking one place to sit or stand while waiting for you to pass by. The beggar is on the move, his technique involves finding one in the area most likely to buy his pitch. The panhandler works on the odds that a certain percentage of the entire population will walk by him, and throw something into his pan/hat/cup/palm. The beggar is more aggresive, and more cunning; he is the tiger on the prowl, looking for the weak and the young.

Why do they beg or panhandle? Drugs. It sounds too easy to be true. Sorry, it’s all about the Drugs. Even when they are honestly asking for help with food, or their electric bill, or diapers, it’s because they’ve spent all their money on Drugs, (which includes alcohol and cigarettes). At first, giving food may seem like a good alternative to giving money, but that only allows them to save their money for Drugs. Drugs, Drugs, Drugs – I can’t say it enough. When you give money to these guys, and girls, you are supporting their life destroying addictions.

But you think about Jesus’s commandment to give to all who ask; but I don’t think He meant for you to give a loaded gun to man who said he wanted to kill himself. Which by the way, is what the homeless are doing – a slow suicide. Life has caused them so much pain that the only way to escape it is by death. Offing oneself is not quite so easy, so for many people they instead drown their pain in drugs and alcohol. And the pain is so great and the addiction is so intense that they will literally do ANYTHING to get it. When the drugs wear off the pain returns, so they are constantly under pressure to keep the drugs flowing. I just can’t imagine this to be something God would want us to perpetuate.

The Dope man does not run a charity, but he is willing to take just about anything he can in trade for his merchandize. It’s not uncommon for an addict to steal something of great value and exchange it for a small high. When I worked at the convience store I caught a guy with a 300 dollar box of cigars. He would have exchanged it for about 15 dollars worth of crack. Of course he had no idea that he had just taken a full box of Fuente Opus X, easily the most expensive cigars outside of Cuba. I’m sure he didn’t care.

You can love him, you can hate him, he really doesn’t care. All he knows is that if he is persistent enough, he will get what he wants. And that goes for the beggar as well as the panhandler. The only right answer to beggars and panhandlers is NO. You may have to say it more than once before they understand. No – you can say you’re sorry for their situation, but still say NO. Only in a situation where the beggar has become violent, would I relent. By this time he has changed his identity from beggar to outright thief. And robbery is a whole different subject, and ciminal. And speaking of criminal, the United States Supreme Court has determined Panhandling/Begging to be a protected right under the First Amendment Freedom of Speech. If you call a cop and the cop carries the beggar/panhandler away, it’s because they have found something else to charge the man with – they usually get them for public intoxication. If on the other hand he is arrested specifically for begging/panhandling, his Civil Rights have just been infringed.

If your insistent NO does not deter the beggar/panhandler, the next recourse is to make that person’s time with you the most unpleasant experience possible. Yell loud, get upset, tell him to get away from you, threaten to call the police, (and sometimes you have to). Be more persistent than they are. – Part of why they are successful at getting money from people, is because they catch people unaware. Surprised, and uncertain what to do, a lot of people will just give money – if anything, just to get rid of the beggar. If you make enough noise, everyone in the area will become aware of this guy and his intentions, and will steer clear of him. Thus making his task a lot harder. Also, they fear going to jail, though they could care less about threats of being arrested. In jail, they are forced to sober up – for most, a fate worse than death.

In the big world we stress fairness and equality to all people, but in the case of beggars and panhandlers, as we desire to have them end this type of behavior, we must draw the line somewhere. Just like anyother efforts at behavior modification, it’s works best to reward the good behavior and punish the bad.

If you are a business owner, I suggest that you share the expense with other business owners in hiring a security guard. You only need the presence of the guard to keep the beggars moving along.

Just remember that Beggars and Panhandlers are a small minority of the entire homeless population, and you should not judge all homeless people by these bad examples. If a person comes to you for a job, appears clean and sober and capable, though you may suspect he’s homeless, don’t press the issue. Hire the man. You could just be the break this guys been needing.

any questions? what do you think?


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless


  1. Both terms "tough love" and "enabling" are bull shit terms used to justify turning one's back on the homeless, or otherwise disrespecting homeless people's humanity. It's time to break from such narrow mindedness and see homeless people for what they truly are. They are injured people in need of help.


  2. Kevin, I believe what you are describing is called "tough love" and I think that you are absolutely right. The other way is called "enabling".


  3. As long as someone is still alive there is a chance their life can turn around for the better. I've seen first hand homeless alcoholics die for having one drink too many. They had that drink because when the last panhandled, no one said "no" to them. I have also seen career drunks turn their lives around and life happy healthy lives. No, I cannot personally take on people to help because I have too many issues of my own. But I know that people don't have to die from drinking either. It's a terrible way to go. And I would not wish it on anyone.As long as drunks can keep getting their drink, they will stay in denial of their problems, and they'll continue drinking. Only by the pain of wanting a drink and not getting will move them to the point of realizing their problems and will seek help.


  4. but what does that accomplish? You're not really in charge. I respect people making their own decisions about this, but if you're not taking on a person to the extent of really helping (and in a realistic manner) I would question whether you have the right to judge how others respond.


  5. In my opinion, it's better to let an addict feel his/her pain than to give them their drug and allow them to kill themselves with it.


  6. I think that if one is not interested in taking on the task of helping a person fix his or her life to the extent that the pain is diminished, to say "Don't give this person money for painkillers" is pretty self-righteous.Sometimes painkillers is all there is. Sometimes people move on beyond that on their own (with help, yes). So many people have been victimized all of their lives. Taught that trusting people is generally a big mistake. Well, in that case; let's insist they become clean and sober and generally appropriate before we cut them any slack. The rest of 'em? Losers. Feed 'em to the sharks.An important distinction is between acutely homeless people and chronically homeless people. Acutely homeless people are still used to the idea of living indoors, having jobs. They're pretty easy to work with, because mentally they are still in the system.Chronically homeless people tend to have gone feral. What do you do with feral humans? Good question.How do you keep feral humans from happening in the first place? Better question.


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