I saw something strange yesterday

nojazzhere

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When a panhandler pressures me:

"I work and I pay taxes. That earns me the right to eat when and where I like. My taxes go toward programs to cover meals and other things for people like you. If I give you money, I am double-taxing myself. Have a nice day."

I am not without compassion. I also don't need to give money away to feel better about myself.
I RARELY give money to panhandlers. I REGULARLY donate to Presbyterian Night Shelter (here in Ft Worth) that does incredible outreach to the homeless. They feed and shelter many of the homeless community every day.....but with some rules and discipline. Anyone coming in is searched for weapons, drugs, and alcohol. They have to leave during the day.....ostensibly to look for work....but aren't allowed to just lay around doing nothing. They have job counseling for folks, and connect with other services for the benefit of homeless. Like many communities we have a terrible problem with this segment of society, and I desperately wish we could figure out a solution. Too many people have become numb and indifferent to the problem.
 

Vibroluxer

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that is awesome. We live in a little town with one store. I love the store dearly and they keep the prices fair, so we shop there as much as we can. At christmas time, I went to the store before it closes (at 9) to get some beer and stuff for breakfast. I'm behind a lady and a little kid and I can see she is buying all their groceries and probably right on the edge (you can kinda tell) and the kid ringing her up is a good kid, quiet and solemn, and when he gets to her total, I can tell she is stuck... way too much for what she has.

There is a pretty long line behind me and just the one checker and she is kind of just unsure of what to do, what to take back and her son is good but, a kid, and probably tired and tired of being in the store.

I catch the cashier's eye and I just say, 'I got it.... add this in too' and the lady turns to me and the kid tells her in spanish I'm paying and she is kind of trying to form words and I just say 'hey, merrry christmas' and the kid finishes bagging her up and she says 'gracias' and nodding and leaves.

and I pay.

nobody asks for their receipt at that store.

It is how they know the locals from the tourists.

But, I can tell when I see the total that it isn't close to what the whole thing cost. I look at the kid, who is always solemn and reserved, and I see the tiniest smile.

and he says, 'Merry Christmas' and I smile and say, 'have a great rest of the night.'
It's contagious! That's a heartwarming story, thanks for sharing it.
 

Mjark

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There’s a woman here who works the shopping center down the street with long plausible stories about needing money to get to other end of county to pick up her granddaughter or something. She’s approached me more than once.

I will give money to someone that appears to really need it, but I don’t see many people these days.

There used to be a young woman working the median at big intersection not that far from me but she didn’t feel right either.

A woman ahead of me who was taking a real long time at Starbucks recently paid for my beverage!

(I don’t care what you think of Starbucks)
 

Toto'sDad

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There’s a woman here who works the shopping center down the street with long plausible stories about needing money to get to other end of county to pick up her granddaughter or something. She’s approached me more than once.

I will give money to someone that appears to really need it, but I don’t see many people these days.

There used to be a young woman working the median at big intersection not that far from me but she didn’t feel right either.

A woman ahead of me who was taking a real long time at Starbucks recently paid for my beverage!

(I don’t care what you think of Starbucks)
My son bought me a cup of foo-foo Starbucks on the way to the golf course, and it was very tasty. That's all I wanted to know about Starbucks.
 

old soul

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My wife and I stopped off for gas in a nice neighborhood the other day. A man and woman pulled up in the next island in a late model Chevy Camero. I was filling my car, don't hear very well, and generally ignore strangers, but the lady was insistent in asking me if I could put some gas in her car so that she and her (boyfriend, husband?) could drive home.

Now, I don't know where home was, nor did she say, but I can't remember heading out somewhere in my auto, and planning on bumming enough money to get home on. I kept filling my car and didn't register any notice at all of her request. I observed said (boyfriend, husband?) circling the islands then get back in the car and leave. Presumably to run out of gas along the highway.
You could've been generous and put a couple gallons of diesel in her tank.....jk!
 

Fiesta Red

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This may make me a jerk, but I don’t give money. I’ll give food (if they want it), I’ll give the extra jacket/gloves/blanket I keep in each of my vehicles during winter weather, I’ll even go through my closet and give away shirts or pants I no longer wear…I don’t give money. As @Peegoo said above, I already donate to government programs (under compulsion) and I also donate to my religious organization (willingly).
 

pippoman

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Apparently I’m a softie for people who look destitute and I’m a poor judge of character. Many years ago a young man came into my business and asked for $10 to buy a fan belt for his car. I was in an area with other businesses and he pointed to an older car parked outside as he was asking. Trying to put myself in his shoes, I gave him the $10 and he left. Later I found out the car he pointed to wasn’t his; he pulled his sob story on other people as well. I felt like a fool. Two years ago I was pumping gas when a distraught looking guy asked me for $4 or $5 to buy a thermostat for his old truck, which was at the next pump over with the hood up. I generously gave him $10, after which he walked inside the convenience store and returned with his buddy. He then drove off, supposedly to the Auto Zone which was in the opposite direction he drove in. A guy walked over and said he saw the whole thing and that he had bought lottery tickets with the money I handed him. I stopped to help a guy some years ago with a sign saying he would work for food, but when I offered to buy him some food he said he had to go (where to?). I then offered him a job at my shop, but he still had to go. I asked for a phone number, really wanting to help the poor fellow, and he gave me a bogus number.
I’m not stingy, but I’ve come to learn that some people will take advantage of people with a soft heart. I guess you could say I’m skeptical, you could call me cynical, but not without cause. I will go out on a limb and bet that most pan handlers are feigning their physical ailments and are capable of working somewhere.
 

buster poser

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As ever, we all have anecdotal evidence of hustlers but in the main, people on the street aren’t workin’ me, or at least having my shoulders up as if they all do isn’t great for my inner life. If you’re not a mark these folks are hardly more annoying or dangerous than urinal- or elevator-chatters.

If you don’t want to give them money, don’t. If you have a boilerplate speech ready for why you refuse to, that’s something else. Different strokes.
 

KyAnne

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I was on my way to work and there was someone panhandling the stopped cars on the median at a major intersection. A homeless man walking his bike through the crosswalk stopped and gave the other man some cash. It was very surreal but heartwarming.
Heartwarming? Dude! In Baton Rouge, this is common. THEY have a racket going! News cameras have followed these types to "gathering places" where they divide their takings. Then "they ALL" go get the crack!
If you panhandle for the "jack", you can get that crack (in more ways than one)! Don't be misled by these swindlers. Wipe away the tears, K?
 

Brad Pittiful

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My wife and I stopped off for gas in a nice neighborhood the other day. A man and woman pulled up in the next island in a late model Chevy Camero. I was filling my car, don't hear very well, and generally ignore strangers, but the lady was insistent in asking me if I could put some gas in her car so that she and her (boyfriend, husband?) could drive home.

Now, I don't know where home was, nor did she say, but I can't remember heading out somewhere in my auto, and planning on bumming enough money to get home on. I kept filling my car and didn't register any notice at all of her request. I observed said (boyfriend, husband?) circling the islands then get back in the car and leave. Presumably to run out of gas along the highway.

ok some camaros are big horsepower cars...maybe they were out drag racing but lost a bunch of times and cost them their gas money
 

Masmus

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Just to be clear I didn't give either of them money I just had never seen that before. There are quite a few panhandlers in the south bay that work together including a group of 4-5 that dress in this weird white uniform costume, and all over the bay there are Roma that are part of a large extended family that go in groups of 3-4 sometimes with infants. I've also seen fist fights over a good corner. Twenty five years ago I used to see this guy in Palo Alto that once he was done for the day would walk four blocks away to his late model Mercedes and drive home. This isn't my first rodeo and I have no illusions as to what the money will be used for. These two were definitely not together.
 

Flyboy

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All the old homeless guys in Edinburgh are gone now. Whilst I am given to random acts of kindness, I tend to ignore the hooded teenagers squatting on their blankets outside busy shops. Most have homes to go to and all of them have mobile 'phones. It is known they can make £100 per day..

Also in the city centre are organised gangs of Roma. There a family near me, the women of whom take the bus into town, beg all day, then can be seen later coming out of Lidl laden with shopping bags. Begging pays.

If I see someone genuinely distressed I will buy them a hot drink and/or a hot snack. I will not give them money if I can help it.
 

Nightclub Dwight

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I love you guys, but this thread is starting to make me uncomfortable in certain ways. Rather than characterize the people who might be out there cheating, I try to see the good in people who might really need the help.

I rarely give money, mostly because I don't have much to give. However, when I do give money, I do it without prejudice about where it might be spent.

As for @Toto'sDad, over the years he has told us about helping people who genuinely need the help. Several times. I trust his judgement.

The Santa's Birthday Eve story that @getbent told is priceless, and should serve as a model for how direct charity ought to work.

I've been down and out earlier in my life, and people helped me when I needed it. But mostly I've been on the other side, and I try to keep that in mind.

As for food, there are plenty of resources for the down and out. Trust me, I know. When people ask for money, they might say it is for food because that is what pulls on our heartstrings. They usually need the money for other reasons. While I might choose not to give them the money, I don't doubt that they need that money. The need is real to them even if we deem it unnecessary from our perspective.

I'm not discounting @Peegoo's perspective, which I think is valid.

Our household does not use grocery stores. Instead we shop at small markets in the old wholesale food district, which is kind of unique to Pittsburgh. It is also a tourist area since it is so unusual and quaint. Hence, there are street people there every day on their corners with their cups. These same people have been there for years. They are not driving German cars. More like Chinese walkers. Old lady walkers with tennis balls on two of the legs.

If we give, we usually give to the guy who has his encampment in the alley behind all the action. He lives there because the pickings are good in the dumpsters. He doesn't pan handle. He literally lives in the alley out back. We always give him a soda or an iced tea in the summer, or a coffee in the winter. Thankfully he hasn't been there for these single digit temperatures, but I do worry about what happened to his stuff. When Harbor Freight gives out the free tarps with any purchase, I always snag one for him.

Coincidentally, my partner's parents always give us scratch off lottery tickets on holidays. We detest this because we don't want to support the "poor tax" lottery system. I always feel like an ass walking in to cash out a $3 scratch off ticket. This past year I decided to pass along my meager winning ticket to one of the pan handlers who most likely won't be using it to buy food. I don't care. Who am I to say how he should spend the money? Heck, I've already admitted that I don't have a lot to give, yet I have had a couple of cocktails tonight. Once the money leaves my hands it is theirs to spend as they see fit. It's not like I spend every dime virtuously.

I don't mean this as a criticism of anyone here. Like I said, I love you guys and I trust that you are doing what you feel is the best course of action on your end. Whether you help by picking up someone's tab, or giving to a community organization or dropping a dime in someone's outstretched cup, remember these are people too.

I think there is more dishonesty at the top of the food chain than the bottom of the food chain, so keep that in mind when you see those that are the most visible and probably also the most vulnerable.
 

raysachs

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When a panhandler pressures me:

"I work and I pay taxes. That earns me the right to eat when and where I like. My taxes go toward programs to cover meals and other things for people like you. If I give you money, I am double-taxing myself. Have a nice day."

I am not without compassion. I also don't need to give money away to feel better about myself.
Giving a speech about double taxing yourself to a panhandler who’s just trying to bum a couple dollars? I’d give them some money or not, probably depending on the moment and my circumstances, but I’d definitely spare them the self-righteous lecture that’s gonna mean diddly squat to them. I guarantee it doesn’t do anything for them, but I guess if it somehow makes you feel better about the whole thing…

On a practical note, I give far less away to panhandlers these days than I ever have before, despite being better able to, just because I almost never have cash or change with me. I’ll often have a couple twenties in my wallet for emergencies, but I basically never have to use them anymore. I seem to pay for everything with either my phone or, for the rare place that doesn’t take Apple Pay, a debit / credit card. I don’t remember the last time I had change in my pocket or bills smaller than a $20. Which makes spontaneous giving a no-go. Most panhandlers aren’t equipped to take Venmo or anything of the like. Feel bad about that sometimes, but I haven’t done anything about it…

I do give $5 or so to whatever local food bank the grocery stores I’m shopping at collect for, so I do a lot more spontaneous giving that way - but I have to trust it’s going to an organization that’s distributing it wisely. Adding $5 to a typical grocery bill doesn't hurt me at all and it’s very easy and convenient to do. Which has become a consideration in these electronic times.

-Ray
 
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Yesyoudidyouare

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There was a video out somewhere showing that homeless/down and outers/askers of money were considerably more likely to share what little they have than folks who have much. Shared empathy, I suppose. I go back and forth; our city actively campaigns against giving money as there are better resources available but they do advocate giving out packets with essentials.

I once had a young man approach me while filling up with gas in Pueblo, CO. I had just sold and delivered an amp and had a pocket full of cash. The young man approached me and asked very courteously if I could spare anything and I turned him down. Pulling out of the parking lot we saw him walking away, hands stuffed into his pockets and a very downcast and dejected look on his face...he had apparently been turned down by everyone he approached. After seeing the look in his eyes I felt that he must have been in pretty dire straits. We drove silently out of town for a few miles and I looked over at my wife; she saw the same desperation that I had seen and she said "we have to go back". We did and could not find the young man, though I saw his face for several nights thereafter when I would try to go to sleep and the thought of it haunts me still. I later learned that the strip from Pueblo up through Colorado Springs and into Denver had a huge influx of people move there after pot was legalized and many young people had migrated there with no plan, no marketable skills and no way back home. There were reports of missing people, human trafficking and many turning up dead.

If he was acting it was a very believable performance.
As someone who experienced homelessness for a moment, it’s fine. It helps to not be helped.

Side not the homeless who collect money where I am are not homeless, but they panhandle. I would never give anyone anything. Unless in front of my wife or something?
 

stxrus

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There are a few scammers here that work the same areas.
One young man has stories that range from trying to start a farm, needs gas, needs to fix a flat, or needs to get medicine for his mom/sister/aunt. My response is I don’t carry cash. He’s actually approached me going into the P.O. and coming out with different stories.

The lady that hangs out by a grocery store that has an upscale coffee bar just before her SS deposit is due. At least that is part of her story. She’s nicely dressed, has a $8.00 coffee drink in her hand, and is obviously high and asking for money to get a taxi to get home, to her mother’s, across the island

The “Two dolla’” guy that used to hang out in Christiansted would hit everyone up. No story just asking for $2.00. One day I asked if he could change a $50.00? He said he could, I asked for $48.00 in change and gave him a $50.00
He got help for his mental illness problem and is productive when he’s on his meds. He washes cars in town for $20.00 a pop and probably does 10 or so a day. He has regular customers

My point to all of this is there are scammers out there and there those in need. I donate gift certificates for a one hour drain cleaning to many organizations that auction them off and get way above the face value. Over the course of a year I usually get 3-4 of them redeemed. People in need get meals, clothing, and housing support.
I know it’s not much but, to me, it’s better than giving to scammers
 

stormsedge

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When I feel COMPELLED to give someone money I do so. When I do not feel compelled to do so, I don't.


Agree. I do not always feel compelled to help someone...other times, I feel I must.

Several years ago, a fellow was cruising the Walmart parking lot asking folks (picked out by their military related garmets/license tags...he wasn't asking everyone) for gas money. He claimed he was trying to get to the VA a couple of hours away (not an unusual circumstance as services in our particular area at the time were sparse). It wound me up at first...but then I asked to see his VA card, which he produced. I gave him some cash and watched him go over to the gas pumps.

Another instance in memory (while considering circumstances)...I was sitting in the lot of a fast food on a very cold morning enjoying coffee and biscuits. I watched a lady work the corner during the time I was there...she wasn't dressed well and was plainly freezing her person while wielding her little cardboard sign to no avail. She gave up and came up to the other side of the lot and got into an old gnarly pickup. When she tried to start it, I cracked my window to get a better listen...it had a bad starter and the old motor was only hitting every now and again---no start. I walked over and presented myself where she could see me coming...she was wrapped in blankets in the cab---plainly living in the vehicle. I passed her some cash.

I do not mention these to pat myself on the back, but to show how a moment considering the peripherals often drive my decision process.

In the end, whether one gives someone else something is entirely up to the individual and the circumstance. Likewise, I believe if I give to someone running a con---that is on them, not me. In the end game, I won't miss it and it may really help someone else.
 

Chiogtr4x

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Just an anecdote, that I often think about:

There's a couple ( middle -aged man, wife, little dog),

that for years now ( I bet 8-9+) 'work' for hours at 2 corners of a very busy ' coming back home from work' commuter route in Northern Virginia
( for those here that know area, the intersection of Rt.28 /New Braddock Rd.)

I've always been fascinated at their longevity doing this- the man is a big man like me, can barely stand up, walks with a cane- but paces his median island for hours every day- he is very friendly, talkative- he acts like he knows EVERY car (hundreds/ thousands?) that passes by. Waves at every car. I'll give him a $10, a few times a year, if I'm stopped at 'his light '- but not every time- he recognizes me, still says "Hi, how are you?"
I could not do what this guy does for 1 hour! ( bad back, I can't stand long-minutes only)

I have no idea if they are homeless, have a car, know nothing other than this is definitely their job, what they do.

I won't, but I wanna ask:

" Where are you guys when you aren't here? Do you have a home? What did you used to do work? "

Just kind of fascinated by this couple and their life. The husband is so upbeat and happy.
Wonder how much $$ they make in a 'shift' ? But it doesn't bug me- I feel like they earn it with their friendliness or attitude?
 




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