Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Profiles In Panhandling

(NOTE: I do not hate poor people and I do not hate the homeless. I sincerely empathize with anyone who's finding it difficult to just survive these days under any circumstances. I've always been, and suspect I always will be, closer to poor than wealthy so I do honestly feel for people who are struggling. I can not be clear enough on that point. But I do hate bums. And by bums, I mean those who expect handouts just because they do nothing more than ask for them. I mostly hate them for making me feel cynical and uncaring towards people who might really need help when I say no and for making me feel like a chump when I say yes. Specifically, I mean I hate assholes like the two listed below)

#1: White male, mid 40's to early 50's, just north of the Tampa Theatre on Franklin Street around 11:00 at night on a Friday.
FOR: Bus ticket from Tampa to New York City.
THE PITCH: "I'm in town to bury my father. But I left my suitcase unattended at the bus station and some homeless bastard stole it. It had my wallet, my clothes, everything in it and now I can't get home. I filed a police report but they're not helping. I went to a church and they gave me a little money but I still just need another $16."
That's a sad story and I would hate to be in his shoes, but I knew it was bullshit simply because the same guy has hit me up with the same story at least twice before. And he was wearing different CLEAN clothes each time. Actually, I think I might have given him a couple bucks the first time I heard it because it actually seemed somewhat credible. Now I'm over it. I said, "That's terrible. Homeless guy, huh? Bastard! As a police detective, I hate what those homeless bastards have done to this city, it's residents and it's visitors, like yourself. Well, you said you've filed a report. Do you have the file number? I can make a couple of calls and see if we've been able to turn anything up. Sometimes they'll dump what they don't need and we can recover some of your other personal effects. You never know. I can call the evidence room and see if anything has been turned in. What's that number?" He said, "Are you really a cop?" and I replied "Well, if you're not really a panhandler then yes, I'm really a cop". To which he said "Wait...Huh?" and I answered "Exactly". He got the last word when he told me to go perform a physically impossible sex act without assistance.

#2: White female, anywhere between her mid 20's to late 50's (very difficult to tell) near the Royal Regional parking lot, just north of the Courtyard Marriott around 8:30 in the morning on a week day.
FOR: Coffee or cigarettes or whatever.
THE PITCH: (to me and a small group of commuters who just happened to be walking in the same direction at the same time) "Does anybody have any spare change I can have so I can buy some coffee or cigarettes or whatever?"
Are you kidding me? First of all, what's with the mass broadcast approach? I appreciate the attempt at efficiency but I'm an individual! Where's the personal touch? Well, don't take that literally. I really don't want any personal touching, thank you. Secondly, the two items she bothered to mention by name would probably be best classified as luxury items, not exactly essential-for-survival. Plus, it didn't even sound like she knew what she wanted. She might go the mall, hang out, pick up a pack of smokes, get a decaf latte, or just "whatever". What, is she my long lost 16-year-old daughter? I've never been panhandled to help finance a shopping spree before. Come on!


Anonymous said...

So sad yet so funny. And the blogger is so cute! : )

kelley said...

I got hit up by the "dead dad, bus money guy" the night of Eddie Izzard! thought it was a somewhat original story and almost gave him a couple bucks, but then I realized that it didn't actually make any sense and he got nothing.

Why, it's Clark! said...

Yep, I saw him that night too. That was the second time he had pitched me.