When encountering panhandlers are there certain rules or things you should/shouldn't do? Because I have lived a sheltered life and grew up in a small town, seeing panhandlers is a new thing for me...I encounter them now daily while driving throughout the city and dont know how to act.....do I make eye contact or pretend I don't see them? Is it rude to make eye contact but then not give them money?
How do you know who is truly poor and who is a scam artist? My BH laughed at me one day cuz I told him I had seen a panhandlers and had given him money (his sign said he had a pregnant wife and I felt bad).
Feel free to tease me for asking this question. ..like I said, I know its silly!
Do what you are comfortable with as far as making eye contact. If they approach you, just shake your head no and they will move on.
My tolerance for stupid shit is getting less and less.
I rarely carry cash so if approached I will say so. If I happen to have money to spare I don't mind giving a little. People on the road with signs I don't generally acknowledge as I'm more concerned with driving. The ones that shout to get attention intimidate me so I just keep walking. I get squirrely when I'm alone, especially when it's dark out.
Street musicians, mimes, orators, and others that are using a talent as a type of trade, you can support if you want. Walk up panhandlers? Absolutely not. Keep walking. Do not take out your wallet. If you feel you might encounter someone you want to give to, put a couple of dollars in your pocket or in your car console. Keep your purse and wallet out of sight. You do not want to become a victim. If you see children on the street, especially in bad weather, call authorities and ask for a welfare check.
I tell people I am tired but really my heart is broken and I am sad.
The ones I see are always at intersections hoping to get money from the passing by cars...and occasionally I will see people on the road going through peoples trash and recycling bins (those are the ones I feel really bad for).
I just feel so bad when I see them and dont give them money...
The ones I see are always at intersections hoping to get money from the passing by cars
I've heard these spots are quite lucrative and competitive among panhandlers, but they are generally not homeless. I've never bothered to verify, but I tend to agree that the ones going through trash are likely more destitute or suffering from a mental illness.
Giving them money is absolutely the worst thing you can do - 9.5 times out of 10, you'll be supporting a drug or alcohol habit. It's unfortunate that you cannot trust people, because every now and then you MIGHT get one that's telling the truth - but you don't want to take that risk. Also, if you're the type of person that people remember, you'll become a "mark" (that is, the homeless community will get word to "watch out for you", because they know you'll give them money). NOT a good idea to get involved.
I have my own "test" to see if people are telling the truth. If I go out to lunch and someone asks me for money, I usually ask them, "Are you hungry? Is that why you're asking me? Because I'll buy you lunch - you come with me and pick out what you want and I'll buy it for you."
I have said this countless times - only two people have EVER taken me up on that offer. Ever.
The last time it happened, I not only bought them lunch, but I took them to a drugstore and bought them a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a plastic knife so that they could not only have one meal, but several. It was the least I could do - what was 8 dollars versus someone who told me the truth?
Still, be careful. As others have said, not everyone is honest and there's often an ulterior motive. Since I work with this population, I'm well aware of the tricks and ruses that they use to get money from unsuspecting tourists (which are a dime a dozen in D.C.), and they're VERY clever. It doesn't surprise me that the "wife is pregnant" story is out there, as I've heard variations on the theme before.
The best way to help is to donate to your local homeless shelter or social services agency that handles such matters.
I do think giving food is a much better idea, and think I will do that instead of giving money...even if its just a dollar I dont want to support someone's drug habit.
Recently I was in a parking lot and getting ready to drive off when I was approached by a man...he told me he was trying to get to a nearby town for a job interview and was running late and needed the job cuz it was something he needed in order to stay in his sober house...he asked for money for the bus and I told him I had no cash on me...he said thank you anyways and was very polite....but I couldn't help but wonder what if he wasn't so polite? How would i handle that?
When I lived in DC I kept gift cards to Subway in my purse and would give those only to the beggars in my neighborhoods who I got to recognize. There were a few who I never saw intoxicated, were always polite, one guy made it his job to hold doors at restaurants for people, especially families with kids. You start recognizing people and knowing who really needs help and who is drunk on the corner or yelling at people or whatever.
I'm currently living in a third world culture as an American expat and have beggars follow me home from work, beggar children hang on my clothing, try to get into my purse, etc. I don't give them anything, but I do look them in the eyes, smile, say hello, chat with the kids in English, and say I'm sorry but I don't have anything for you.
In a lot of places like this, begging is a family trade, and parents will maim their children at a young age to "help" them earn more money. I'm not willing to support that, as bad as I feel for the kids. Giving anything just perpetuates the situation, because it teaches that their horrible methods are effective.
The worst is the babies who sleep all day. Who has ever seen a baby that just lies in its mother's lap in the heat on the street and sleeps for 12 hours at a time? They drug them, often with heroin or cocaine, to make them sleep, eat less, and keep from crying. Often the woman holding the baby isn't even the mother babies are "rented out" by those in charge of the begging rings.
How do you know who is truly poor and who is a scam artist?
You can't. I lived in an apartment complex with a woman who worked at my office during the week, and panhandled the corner 1 block from our homes on the weekends. She told me that she made almost $500 a day panhandling (her husband sold pot and mushrooms downtown while she panhandled). She also had a very sedated looking baby while she panhandled (one of 5 that she had seized by the state).
I live in a major metropolitan area, and attend a university downtown. I only give money to entertainers. I've emptied my pockets for singers, dancers, and great looking drag queens. Make me smile, and it's yours.
I too have given food. I rarely give money but when I do, it's because something is telling me to, you know?
The perfect BS example of this is a guy that is at a major intersection of two highways every morning. He is clean, and he always has a travel mug, or a large bottle of water. The other thing of note is that every time he is there, there is a nice newer car than I drive parked off the side of the side road. His sign said say need work, please help. My Dad the old hippie he is pulled over and said I need a few jobs done on my property, a fence painted, a lawn mowed, and few other things. He declined. My dad said I will pay you mimimum wage, and feed you while you do the work, he declined yet again. My dad then offered him cash, and he jumped on it like fleas on a dog. He doesn't want work, he would prefer to lean against a guardrail all day and accept cash from people non the wiser, and who are generous to a fault.
Nope. You need work get a job. If you spent the time you spend leaning on the guardrail actually filling out job applications you would have a job.
Before I lived here I had a woman approach me outside the grocery store and ask me for money so she could have a full stomach for an upcoming job interview, and when I immediately offered her food from my cart, she dismissively told me she didn't like my groceries and would prefer money for Burger King. Yeah - no.
Now I make eye contact and say good morning or afternoon if I see someone begging on the street, but I never give them money.
No longer together
"There are times when our reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind." Patrick Rothfuss
Some of these people really ARE needy, it's just hard to tell the real from the fake.
Just recently at a rest stop there was a couple that had a sign "need gas, wife pregnant". I was road weary so was just sitting and resting and then it started to rain and the pregnant wife was yelling at him lets go I don't want to sit out here anymore. Seems they had gas just fine when the weather got bad.
I have considered having business type cards to hand out locally with a list of services that are available but if I can find them and have never needed them then surely they know from the other "I'm Hungry" sign holders were to go to get the free breakfast and dinner that is served daily.
I become this much of a skeptic when I found out that my son in law knew the cousin of a local beggar that made his house payment for a home nicer than mine with his takings.
ETA: I do give money/help in other ways but until there is a way to tell the truly needy apart from the scammers I'm not handing my hard earned to someone who is living better than I am, my divorce has me a step above homeless already.
[This message edited by trying_2_recover at 9:55 PM, June 1st (Sunday)]