To find the earliest blog posts from The Homeless Guy, go to http://web.archive.org 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 –
BEGGARS & PANHANDLERS –
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?