Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Alphabe~Thursday "P" stands for Panhandling

Hello everyone! This week on Alphabe~Thursday its all about the letter “P”. I have decided to write about something I have been dealing with for the past few weeks.



It seems to be all the rage these days. Why a few weeks ago there was a young man standing on the street corner right outside of the community that I live in. He was panhandling for money.
Let me describe this young man to you.
He was wearing OP shorts, a Hurley top, a pair of Vans slip on sneakers with a smart phone attached to the pocket of his shorts while holding a “Will work for Money” sign made out of cardboard and smoking a Marlboro cigarette. He was wearing a black sports watch and had sandy blonde hair semi neatly styled, and a mole just above his right eye brow.
How did I know these details you might ask?
Well just so happens that there is a traffic light right there. One of the slowest in town I might add. I had plenty of time to stare him down and shake my head “NO!” while he was scratching his uh “private parts” and wiggling his sign at me.
Someone must have called the police because after three weeks of putting up with his panhandling and dancing around trying to intimidate other drivers, he was gone.
And the owner of the gas station on that corner removed the large bushes he was hiding in until the cars had to stop at the light when it turned red.
I know there are real people that are down on their luck, but I don’t think this particular young man really wanted to work. I think he was looking for a handout so he could buy more drugs.
I hate to be judgmental but I see indigents all the time. They are weathered from living outdoors in the elements. Their clothes are dingy and old. Most seek shade from the heat of day and come out at night. Those that do come out during the day are scouring the streets for cans or dumpster diving.
I have given food, money, blankets, jackets, and even put gas in someone’s car that was down on their luck but I just can’t tolerate alcoholics or druggies.
I don’t believe anyone should ever be hungry or cold or treated with disrespect because they are down and out. After all, everyone had a mother that loved them and they still need love and respect.
If this young man really wanted to work, he would be sitting in the unemployment office or the Day Labor office taking any job that was offered. I guess what I am trying to say is God helps those who help themselves and when they can’t then there are other solutions available.
There are so many people out of work and homeless now, entire families. But I also know there are programs out there to help people get back on their feet, get temporary housing, and jobs, day care, and hot meals. I know because I donate to these organizations to keep them up and running.
You never know who might be knocking at your door or your heart.
We had an old man, clothes in rags and weathered from the elements, come to my place of employment and told us he was hungry. He didn’t ask for money…just said he was hungry and asked if we had any food to give. He was sent on his way with a sandwich and a clean mayonnaise jar filled with hot coffee along with directions to a shelter where he could bathe and get clean clothes and a warm cot for the night.
It breaks my heart to see people this way. The truth of the matter is some choose to live that way and others are unfortunate to have it thrust upon them. And for those that choose to live that way…they are entitled to live their life the way they choose.
Just remember one thing…the world is different now. It is teaming with a population that is being pulled down to the point where it is ready to snap. If you choose to give money to a panhandler that is your business. And if you do, just be careful out there. You may be aiding a drug addict.

Well I hope I haven’t offended anyone. This commentary regarding panhandlers is my opinion and doesn’t necessarily represent that of anyone else.
Please stop by Jenny Matlock’s blog (off on my tangent)  and read up on other topics about the letter “P”.

Thanks for stopping by!~Ames


Linda @ A La Carte said...

I hate panhandlers and it's because of all the same issues you bring up. I would help anyone as long as I know it is for real! Good P post! hugs, Linda

Esther Joy said...

Ames, I admire you for being brave enough to tackle this subject. You did it with both honesty and caring. May God give us all discernment in this area - who to help and who not to!

Karen S. said...

I too have a problem with this, because you just never know for sure. I've heard where college students did this as a test, just to see how people would react. I've also heard the story about a person making like 80 grand a year after doing this.....if we really feel like offering money, or helping in other ways to those who are in need, we should go to find them....we can visit with them at the soup kitchens we can help them in our church....and when we do these things privately for families in need at our schools we help the needy so much more, then rolling down our window and handing over a five or ten dollars. A really great P word!Thanks!

beckyp said...

I don't see much of this where I live but every once and awhile there will be a person out by walmart panhandling. Most of the time there sign says something like trying to get back home. I once gave a guy a few bucks because he had a dog with him. Was he homeless? probably not but I do believe he was stranded. Like you said though there are plenty of programs to help people and if they are truly in need they would seek out these programs.

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

I agree with every word, Ames. Every word.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love how your place of employment handled the situation!

Deb said...

I agree with you. I haven't seen a panhandler in a long time but I haven't been downtown either. You just never know if they need money for food or if they will use it for alcohol or even worse, drugs.

Viki said...

It's hard with so many people out of work now to know who is trying to scam you and who isn't. Although I knew the woman in Vegas was scamming me but I gave her money anyhow, ha.

JJ said...

Ames: I just did an entire class on the subject this past week. If you are interested, I'll send you some info. In my research, I discovered that panhandlers are quite different than the homeless. I have no use for them.

Annesphamily said...

I don't understand why this isn't illegal. What about gang bangers? Why are they given more rights than the tax payers.??? Argh..... I could tell you a few panhandler stories that would make you sick! Some of these jerks make twice the money I do panhandling! I agree with you here and your post was very nicely written. Political correctness is another pet peeve. We can't hurt anyone's feelings! Waaahhhyyyyy.....
Thanks for sharing this great post!

Jo said...

Oh Ames ... your post is not offensive at all ... we have had the same 3 people at the same intersection for about 2 1/2 years now ... almost daily ... I think it is just easier money for some of them than getting a job ... mind you we had a "famous" local panhandler who worked a hugely busy intersection and kept it clean. People would bring him new brooms and buckets, and someone even gave him a reflective vest ... he was a former alcoholic who at the time had liver cancer. He was cheerful to everyone and never held his hand out, except to wave ... but people would give him money as well ... he kept that major intersection clean for several years and always waved and smiled ... he was part of the flavour of the city ... him, i gave money to. It was really sad when he passed. Both myself and my daughter will give food or water, but not money ... i dont want to contribute to the disease that is addiction.

upinthecosmos said...

AMEN! We see this all the time in my area too... people who look better dressed than me trying to say they need money for one thing or another. At least take the time to look the part dudes/chics... no wonder why you can't get or keep a job! LOL... in all seriousness we do have plenty that need the help also & those my heart goes out to.

Sue said...

Hear, hear.

We need to make sure our giving is useful. It's better to give the right gifts...


Judie said...

Rod and I saw a couple of panhandles in San Francisco several years ago. They were together and had a sign that said, "Why Lie? We need money for booze!"

Cheryl D. said...

I don't give money to pan handlers either. I prefer to give to shelters instead too.

It's a tough economy out there and supports such as shelters can't serve everyone. But like you, I don't want to enable someone's drug habit.

Patsy said...

Ames...I am a girl raised in the South Georgia. I have joined your blog. Patsy

anitamombanita said...

I don't give money to panhandlers as a general rule, because I think most of the points you have raised are valid. But on rare occasion, I'll feel moved by the spirit to help someone because my heart tells me that they are genuine in their need and perhaps beyond helping themselves. And if I'm wrong, then so what? What harm have I caused? In such a case, I think it's better to have erred on the side of trying to help.

I've taken people for food rather than giving them cash. When I lived near San Francisco, I used to carry a few extra cans of food or granola bars and things like that in the car for people who were panhandling for food.

I was approached by a woman in the Costco parking lot the other day, asking for money for food. I offered her some of the food I had just bought, but to each thing I offered she said, 'we don't eat that'. I decided she wasn't all that hungry and went my way.

It's a tough issue. I feel for the hungry and the poor, but have little tolerance for those who are just playing the system or taking advantage of the kindness of others.

Jenny said...

I struggle with this issue. I will generally give food or something to drink or give them a phone number.

I always feel so weirded out because my daughter has been homeless for many years of her life...and has definitely resorted to pan-handling (and much worse) trying to survive.

It makes me so sad and sick at heart but I never, ever know the right thing to do.

Thanks for a poignant and thoughtful link to the letter 'P'.


Splendid Little Stars said...

poignant post, Ames.
difficult issue.
Do you know the Henry James short story about the man who went to work every day dressed well, rode a train to an apartment, changed into his panhandling clothes? Least I think it was a Henry James story.
Do you know the story of The Soloist?
I don't give money, but give goods, buy a meal, or donate to an organization that helps directly.