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panhandlers decorum?

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Alyssamd24 posted 5/29/2014 17:05 PM

This is such a silly question I feel ridiculous asking...but will do so anyways.

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 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. I said, I know its silly!

lieshurt posted 5/29/2014 17:54 PM

I absolutely will not give money to panhandlers. With all of the scammers out there, there is no way I'm giving them my hard earned money. Many of them bring in $600.00 a day, tax free. However, I do donate to the food bank and to other charities that assist those truly in need.

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.

Deeply Scared posted 5/29/2014 17:55 PM

If you have an extra apple or half of sandwich, give them food instead of money

Crescita posted 5/29/2014 17:58 PM

This is a pretty good article on the subject.

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.

Lovedyoumore posted 5/29/2014 18:05 PM

If they say they need food, give them food. I used to keep a non perishable sack lunch and drink in the car. I give no money. There are numerous agencies who can help people even in emergency situations. There is a guy near us that uses his small children to panhandle. Has them right there with him. There was a woman who used her Down syndrome child to panhandle in front of a resturant in freezing weather. She had an apartment. She used the money to rent storage units to store her hoarded junk. The worst? A nice looking girl who graduated with my son who begs at the freeway entrance to support her heroin habit. My H found out she takes in over $1000 a week. She needs rehab, not cash. There are thug groups that force people to beg and take the cash in exchange for a dismal upkeep because it is lucrative.

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.

Alyssamd24 posted 5/29/2014 18:14 PM

Thanks for the article! I just read it and it was quite interesting. definitely made me think...but its hard cuz like lovedyoumore pointed out- there are so many scam artists out there...or the people who just use the money for drugs.

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...

Crescita posted 5/29/2014 18:18 PM

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.

h0peless posted 5/29/2014 18:20 PM

I'm always happy to give them food. I've even asked a couple who were sitting in front of fast food restaurants to come in and eat with me. I usually don't give money to individuals, though, because I'm afraid of enabling addictions.

Fireball72 posted 5/29/2014 18:30 PM

I work in downtown Washington D.C., which (unfortunately) has a very large homeless population. They also have a very large drug-addicted population (I work with a lot of them in my employment).

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.

Alyssamd24 posted 5/29/2014 18:43 PM

My job is also one that works with this population. agency has a food pantry among many other things that we do to work with those who live in poverty...this is a new job for me and has really opened my eyes to things I had never experienced.

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?

Amazonia posted 5/29/2014 20:15 PM

When I lived in LA I kept brown paper bags of non perishable food in the car (tuna, crackers, canned chili in the pop top can, granola bars and squares of chocolate) and bottled water. I would give them out on the freeway on ramps where they wait.

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.

Want2help posted 5/29/2014 23:33 PM

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.

wildbananas posted 5/30/2014 00:17 AM

I used to live across the street from a guy who panhandled. He'd walk to the Walmart parking lot everyday with his "homeless need help" sign and return in the afternoon to his house.

I too have given food. I rarely give money but when I do, it's because something is telling me to, you know?

tushnurse posted 5/30/2014 08:03 AM

I don't give them anything. Sorry.
I know for a fact if you are on hard times and you are capable of getting your shit together enough to make a sign and stand at the corner, that you can walk into walmart, walgreens, or mcdonalds and ask for a job application. If you cant there is help available too.

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.

circe posted 6/1/2014 19:53 PM

Our town has a really good system for the homeless or poor or even temporarily jobless - we have a food pantry (free) that also has a job training and placement service, an odd job "share" service (people do light manual labor as a group for a share of the money made) and our state has a free healthcare system for homeless or destitute or temporarily unemployed people that comes with addiction recovery services - all with case managers. We had a reporter do an "insider" story on it in 2011 expecting to show that it was inhumane or useless and instead he found the services to be high quality and completely thorough and humane. So as a community what we're supposed to do is to hand the panhandlers who come through here a card that has the street address of the local food pantry and health care services. They can even get free public transport to that specific place.

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.

Unagie posted 6/1/2014 20:12 PM

Ive seen a panhandler throw away food I just gave them. I just shook my head and kept walking. Sometimes I give food other then that nothing. I give street entertainers money if I was entertained and they can use that however they like. There was a woman who used to come on the subway for years and it was always the same story about losing her house in a fire while pregnant. She would carry around a newspaper article as proof, all lies. You have to just use your better judgement. I grew up very poor but we always worked our butts off to make it by.

Jeaniegirl posted 6/1/2014 21:12 PM

I don't normally give $ to panhandlers. However, I did buy lunch for a man recently, a vet. I guess he'd been begging change because he was eating at the restaurant and tried to pay his bill and he was 17 cents short and the manager made a HUGE deal of it and I could tell he was so embarrassed. She accused him of ordering food knowing he couldn't pay for it. He was a vet (he told me, trying to get his VA benefits started), probably 60, skinny and looked ill. I know he was hungry because I watched him eat. He relished every bite. I got mad at the way the restaurant manager was treating him and went up and told her to put his meal on my ticket. She said .."Are you sure?!", which made me more angry. The man said .."thank you so much, mam" and he was leaving so I walked out with him. Then I realized the manager had KEPT all of his money (change) which was about $9. I went back in and made her give it back to me (double dipping she was!) and I told her I would not be back to her restaurant.

Some of these people really ARE needy, it's just hard to tell the real from the fake.

trying_2_recover posted 6/1/2014 21:38 PM

I will never give money to the people that make it their days work to stand on the corners of a certain intersection in our town with signs. I have repeatedly seen people come out of Walmart, hide what they've bought and pick up their sign, or get into a nicer car than I drive where their wife/husband was waiting for them and drive away.

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)]

Jeaniegirl posted 6/2/2014 21:43 PM

In my area there are two places I give money to -- the Salvation Army and another non-profit organization who managed to buy an old school building and they house and feed the homeless. I know by giving to these two organizations, the money goes for food, soap, toothpaste and other necessities.

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