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What do YOU do

  1. Oct 30, 2007 #1
    ...when a man who lives on the streets walks up to you and asks you if you can spare some change? What do you say? How do you react?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2007 #2
    This happens to me quite a bit actually as I take the "central" city bus to school almost daily. Here is what I normally do:

    Open my palms, tilt my head a bit, and with a friendly, but regretful, smile, say, "I'm sorry, but I don't carry any cash on me" (which is a true statement for me).

    This usually works quite well for me, as the person usually smiles back and says "that's alright."

    Now if you were questioning the moral side, then I don't really have any comments on that.
  4. Oct 30, 2007 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    I give him money.
  5. Oct 30, 2007 #4
    Yes and your house too.
  6. Oct 30, 2007 #5
    how much, and why?
  7. Oct 30, 2007 #6
    BAck when I was going to school in Boston I would ride on the train almost every day. At the train station there was a one-legged elderly man that begged for money. He was there when I arrived in the mornings and sometimes when I was returning in the afternoon. I would often give him some spare change, whatever coins were in my pocket at the time.

    One day there were two men begging in the same area, the elderly man and a newcomer. I passed the elderly man first and gave him some change. He said "Thank you." Then as I passed the newcomer, he also asked for change. I told him I had given all my change to the other man. He sneered at me.

    I had a nice arrangement prior to the newcomer. I had a small pleasure from possibly helping the elderly man. I could give or not give as I pleased and not feel guilty either way. Then the newcomer arrives and I feel guilty only if I give.

    That's when I stopped giving money to beggars. But I really haven't seen too many lately. Most of what I encounter recently have been 2nd rate con artists that prey on people's kindness. Twice I heard the story about the 'out of gas car' down the road. Once in San Francisco there was a man that had an elaborate disguise to appear as if he had been very badly injured. He said he fell off his motorcycle down the street and needed money for a taxi to go to the hospital.

    I might spare some money if asked politely, but I wouldn't count on it. I got enough people prying my wallet open that I can do nothing about. There just isn't much left to be handing out to others, who are too often trying to dupe me anyway. Even the beggars are asking for five and tens nowadays. I'll probably be joining them soon enough.
  8. Oct 30, 2007 #7


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    I ignore them and keep walking. If they don't have money for food, they can go to the soup kitchen. If they need a place to sleep with a roof over their head, they can go to the shelter. I'll more than gladly donate to soup kitchens and shelters where I know the money is going to feed the homeless and hungry or give them a roof over their head to sleep at night, but I will not give cash handouts to beggars. Of all the beggars I've encountered in cities, oddly, I've never seen even one, ever, standing in line somewhere with a handful of change trying to buy food...not even at the hotdog cart where there's no store manager to chase them away for walking in unbathed.
  9. Oct 30, 2007 #8


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    I don't give out money either. I see them on the street every single day around here.

    I heard a story from my dad who used to give out change to this woman everyday. Then one day he saw her at a church all dressed up and getting in a limo.

    Well of course he doesn't give out change anymore.

    My old teacher used to say that he never gave out change, however if someone said they were hungry he'd offer to actually buy them something to eat.
  10. Oct 30, 2007 #9
    A beggar asked me for a dollar so he could eat I and told him no he would spend it on drink. He said never fear, he already had money for drink.

    Seriously, generous though we are with charity, we don't give to panhandlers.
  11. Oct 30, 2007 #10
    I just ignore them, where I live the street is lined with bums wanting money, and they usually aren't very subtle or polite about it either. Plus most of them are carrying bottles in paper bags while they beg so my sympathy for them is pretty low......especially when the street is lined with for hire employees wanted signs, and minimum wage is basically 15/hr.
  12. Oct 30, 2007 #11


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    There aren't many panhandlers in small Maine towns, though you can get hit up in Bangor, Lewiston, Portland, etc. My wife and I give to the Salvation Army every year, and people who really, truly need a hot meal and a place to sleep won't get turned away by the SA, who have soup kitchens and shelters in each of these cities (and more).

    Now, if a local family has lost their home in a fire, or a local family has a member is beset by a devastating illness, my wife and I will try to help stabilize them with appropriate assistance, and maybe make some anonymous donations so they can afford to have a modest celebration at Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. If local people are designated by aid agencies as being in need, we give, and it's not pocket change.

    For those of you old enough to have attended Grateful Dead concerts (and were sober enough to pay attention) you will know that there are fantastically skilled panhandlers, many of whom are attractive and many of whom were clever enough to come up with very specific requests. They would show you some money, and say "If I can just get another $2.73, I'll have enough money for a ticket." Lots of concert-goers would say "What the hell." and give them $3 so they could see the show, not knowing that these same people ran this same scam thousands of times before every show. Every time it worked, they got another $3 for nothing.
  13. Oct 30, 2007 #12
    Typically, I ignore them. I've been there and don't pitty the most of them. But, occasionally I get a very persistent/hostile beggar. When that happens I ask him, "How many pushups can you do?", they usually throw out a number proudly. Then I tell them, "If you give me X (one + the number he gives me) pushups, I'll give you $2". I stand there and count his pushups, giving him critique if he is sloppy about them, help him to his feet and give him the $2. He is usually surprised by the experience an usually feels pretty good about his $2. I worked for it, so can he.

    And I don't care what he does with it, he earned it. He gets off my back and I don't feel bad about giving him money.
  14. Oct 30, 2007 #13


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    Are you saying that you were a beggar? I grew up in a poor family that should have been "broken" without the kind ministrations of the Roman Catholic church, and have been working and paying income taxes and SS since the age of 13 or so. Somehow, you come across as a "pull-myself-up-by-own-bootstraps" guy, though you have undoubtedly gotten a whole lot of support from the society that I have been financing for over 45 years. Get over yourself. You're not the only person who has seen hard times, nor are you the only person who has bettered themselves only to look down on people who have not. I do not give to freeloaders, but I will never abandon the truly needy.
  15. Oct 30, 2007 #14


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    I ignore such people. I figure, like Moonbear said, if they are really in that much trouble, then there are people out there to help. The strangest are the people who ask for 27p for a cup of tea, or something like that. I've had someone come up to me in a café and ask such a question. I didn't give him money, but rather said come up to the counter and I'll buy you a cup of tea, but he refused and walked off. This clearly shows that this guy didn't want tea, but wanted money for some other non-innocent reason.
  16. Oct 30, 2007 #15
    No, I never begged. I have lived at a shelter. Of course I'm not the only person who took ownership of his own life and got out of a hole. I'm not bragging, I'm pointing out that in this country, and the society we ALL pay for, anyone can get on their feet. The worst thing you can do is enable such people to continue to live off any system available to where they DON'T become a contributing member to society. I do look down upon people who use and abuse good will. They are bums. And I won't be getting over myself anymore than you will there, turbo.

    So, I opened the topic to discuss what people feel and do when confronted with real people, the majority of whom are taking advantage of good will.
  17. Oct 30, 2007 #16


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    Where did you get this idea from

    According to SAMHSA who help the homeless many of these people are mentally ill (of the 700,000 homeless each night 25% are mentally ill) and many have substance addictions. Many others are running away from an abusive home.

    To insult such people by demanding they perform 'tricks' for you in return for a paltry handout is disgusting and says more about the character flaws of someone who would do such a thing than the character of the unfortunate recipient of such questionable 'charity'.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2007
  18. Oct 30, 2007 #17
    The majority are bums, don't kid yourself. Most are homeless by choice. I'm not talking a mother and kids in a shelter. I'm talking about those guys downtown that run around and look for a poor bastard the can manipulate for cash. Many of those same guys would steel your wallet and think nothing of it. I've sat down with many of them myself and listened to their stories. They are plenty capable of holding a job and taking care of themselves, they just don't want to. A few are in excellent health, relatively, and do more pushups than I can LOL.
  19. Oct 31, 2007 #18


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    To be honest, it's probably about 50-50 whether I give a panhandler any money. There's some that I'd rather not spend even a few seconds with, some that are just plain snotty (usually younger ones), and sometimes I'm just in a bad mood or too preoccupied to want a stranger interrupting my thoughts.

    Personally, I prefer some of the panhandlers/performers in the French Quarter, especially the 'human statues'. Even if they scare the living daylights out of a stranger, it's entertaining enough to be worth a few dollars and having one scare the living daylights out of a friend or relative is priceless (one got my son, one year :rofl:)

    It really is the same thing (street performers/panhandlers). A friendly personality can be as substantial as a 'performance'.
  20. Oct 31, 2007 #19
    I haven't seen a begger in years... other than the blanket man but he doesn't beg he chooses to be homeless and wander the streets... even made it on to wikipedia :)

    In NZ the government will supply anyone with out a home with an allowance and a house to live in, but they must be willing to try and find a job so that they can earn for themselves. Although alot of people don't bother with finding a job and just live off the government with free medical, dental, mental health services, schooling and countless other things. The more people in the family the more money they get so women usually just end up having babies just so that they can get free day care and more money.

    The last beggers I saw were in south africa and I didnt give them money unless they held a knife to me or someone. It was really difficult saying no to children begging for money but they would either go and buy glue (to stiff) with the money you gave them or they would would be bullied to give it to someone older and bigger than them. I tried a couple of times to give them food or a drink or some useful thing like new shoes, or clothes but they would either throw the food out or have the clothes/whatever taken off them by others. It would make me angry so I don't give to beggers anymore. Instead I give food to the food bank.
  21. Oct 31, 2007 #20


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    When my step-brother was still working as a roofer (one too many falls off a roof has put him out of that business), he would call the bluff on those guys standing out with the "Will work for food" signs all the time. There are always cleanup jobs to do on roofing sites, and he was willing to pay them to do stuff like pick up nails and debris from the ground. None ever took him up on the offer of an actual job.

    I don't consider street performers in the same category as bums/beggars though (referring to BobG's post now). To me, they're providing entertainment and are working to earn the money they get. It may be an unconventional "job," but if I find it entertaining, then why not pay for the entertainment? I'd pay to see the same types of acts if I went to the circus, so if a street performer is particularly entertaining to me, I'll contribute to the hat. In a way, it's better than paying for a show...if I don't like the performance, I can just walk away, so I only pay if I like what I see.
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