Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The day for panhandlers.

I work kind of in the hood.  The neighbor works for the local phone company and they term it a "2-man area."  It's fine during the day, but I wouldn't want to take a long walk in the dark there. 

Panhandlers stand at the lights on the expressway off-ramps with stories of whoa.  Now, I know it sounds unfeeling that I state it that way, but they are a network of liars who work for some guy, panhandle money, give him a cut and cruise away making far more money than Hubs and I do together in one year with two Bachelor degrees added in for fun.  (I'm truly serious about the amount that they make and the story that I give.  It's a well-known fact in that area.)  In the land of the homeless, those that are truly homeless know where to secure services.  I state this having volunteered at a homeless shelter and having worked directly with the women (Hubs the men) that were homeless in the area at the time.  These men (and occasionally women) stand out and put their hands out for money that was hard-earned by the folks, kids and occasionally parents who put their kids through the university that sits within a block of the ramps that they panhandle at.  It drives me crazy that people would rather sit on a ramp giving some fake sob story about their hardships rather than take a job.  I know that jobs are hard to find.  I understand that, but when I had the dopey guy in that I had today, it makes me angry.

First, we had a gentleman stop in with a shovel in hand.  Now, he had apparently come in the week before soliciting for money (no shovel because of no snow) and a coworker listened to him and gave him a dollar. 

That's a no-no. 

He came back today with the shovel.  I admire that he was willing to offer services for payment.  Still, we can't encourage that and believe me, he would bring friends.

So 10 minutes after he scoodled off, this dude comes in.  I knew he looked familiar.  "Yeah, I have the minivan out there and I just went to the gas station and they couldn't help me, but I'm almost on E, rolled in on fumes and I know that you don't know me from Adam, but . . . " 

"No, I don't." 

"But, do you have $10. or $15. for me to make it to Beechwood?" 


"You don't, well, um . . . "

"No.  I don't and we are a dry land.  They don't over there, either." 

He got back into his mid-1980's Astrovan that most assuredly would not have made it to the east side of Cleveland on $10.00 worth of gas if it could make it at all.  Here's the bit.  He's run this exact same spiel with us before. 

And with our co-worker who works at a record store a handful of miles away. 

The exact same story. 

He was the same one panhandling customers in our parking lot. 


Can anyone say, "Addiction problem?"

In a way, I feel heartless, but I know the game that he's playing.  Frankly, the other guy is too, but at least he isn't quite so stupid about it.  The shovel was a nice touch.


Rach said...

I'm a TERRIBLE sucker for panhandlers. I'm just the mark they are looking for since I'm such a soft-hearted (and apparently soft-headed) mark. :sigh:

I'm grateful I don't live in an area where I see the panhandling daily. I know there are services available for the homeless, I know they know how to find them, and yet, I'm still taken in. Every. Single. Time. UGH!!

Bailey's Leaf said...

Rachael, my dear,

THE PANHANDLERS I'M TALKING ABOUT AREN'T HOMELESS! They are addicts and as much as I would love to take their story as true, I just know that it's not. Volunteering at the homeless shelter taught Hubs and I things that we would have never known otherwise.

My brother Billy gave a guy a $20. The man said that he needed "food to feed his family." Billy, who had fallen on some hard times himself, had an extra $20. at the time gave it to the man and told him to go out and get his family some food. About an hour later, he was on his way back through, stopped by the gas station and ran into the man buying himself a case of beer. "So is that what you did with my $20.?" My brother was so mad.

I dated a guy who went to Cleveland State. (Downtown Cleveland) Every morning, he used to see a man who was panhandling and the man always asked for a dollar for a cup of coffee. Dan and his room mate always made sure that they had a dollar between the two of them. One day, they decided to take him a cup of coffee. They wanted to see if the man would accept it. It was a large coffee. It was hot. They had the appropriate condiments to go with. Do you know what happened? The man was furious with them and threw it at them. They never gave him money ever again.

Just say no. Look at it this way, you are enabling addiction. If you want to help the homeless, do what we do-- give to your local homeless shelter. We do every month and that way, I know that we are giving to a service that truly helps people, provides food, clothing and a warm place to stay. We've been in the trenches at that homeless shelter. We know how it operates and know how our money is being used. Just a thought.

Next time you go into the city, pull up your big girl boots and just say no! You aren't being heartless. I promise.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

When I worked in a bad area (Eddy Rd in Cleveland) we had people come in the lobby and ask for money all the time. Only one time did I give (he said his kids were starving and I caved). It's tough because you know they are using the money for dr*gs but part of you thinks "what if they really are starving"? Most of the time we just sent them away and told the guard to do a better job of screening who entered the grounds. Sometimes we'd have panhandlers in the parking lot too and sometimes they'd break in the back of the building and just steal from the plant employees. I can't imagine being that "addicted" to something.
In the same neighborhood there was a man panhandling with a sign that said "Need money for food". I was buying my own lunch at Subway and bought him a sandwich too. I figured if he really was hungry, then at least I gave him actual food.
Once when I worked downtown I did have one ask me for money and he fully admitted it was for alcohol. I know this is not the life these people dreamed about when they were little and making plans for themselves. I've witnessed this kind of addiction first hand. It's very sad and instead of money the best thing we can do is pray for these people.