Believe Them? .......Or Not

My daughter and I were driving to the store this afternoon and as we got closer to an intersection we could see this guy with a folded up cardboard sign. He was with a woman, maybe his wife, but who knows. He started at the corner, opened up the sign which read:

Laid off
Two Kids
Need Rent Money

They then put on their sad face and started walking very slowly down the sidewalk toward us. I suppose when they get so far they turn around and repeat. The sympathetic part of me feels guilty when someone is staring me right in the face asking for help.

But then I looked ahead at the other corner of the intersection and there is another guy holding a sign facing traffic coming in the opposite direction. The sign says the same damn thing and is made out of the same white cardboard and written with the same marker. Are you kidding me? I look in the side mirror to see how far away the couple was because I wanted to ask them if the person working the other corner is their kid because it's an awful damn coincidence that they have the same story. I'm surprised they didn't rent some kids to bring along too. I hate it when I see people panhandling with their cute little puppy. Now that really makes me feel guilty.

And then as we left the store quite a ways from our home my daughter spotted a man handing over his sign to another man as if they were doing their shift change at work. My daughter commented that he was listening to his Ipod so he couldn't be that bad off.

This kind of stuff really just frosts my cupcakes. If I feel I can be charitable I give to a local shelter. I'm not going to give money to someone who panhandles for a living. This is a job to them. I heard a long time ago that they will travel the circuits. When one city dries up or they get booted out, they will travel to the next largest city and make their way back around eventually. They probably make more than I do in a month.

I would seriously love to follow one of them home to see where they really live. I partially followed someone a few years ago who was giving a sob story about being out of gas and needing to get home (out of town). I passed on the opportunity to give him money but I saw that someone did. The guy gets in his van just as I was leaving too and he speeds out of the parking lot heading my direction. I tried to follow but couldn't quite catch up to him. Do ya think if you're almost out of gas that you would go very slow to the closest gas station? I eventually turned off when my street came up but I was so tempted to continue.

I believe there are really people that are in need of help and living on the street. But.....I feel for the most part, it is by choice. This past winter our city opened up 'warming centers', a place for the homeless to go when it got too cold outside. But no one came. Know why? They said they didn't want to follow the rules; no sleeping, no drugs/alcohol. It was not a overnight sleeping shelter, just a very nice WARM place with chairs and hot coffee. They would rather live their lives under their conditions, no one else's. So what are ya going to do? Those that are really down on their luck take advantage of different organizations that are in place to help them, whether it be shelters, job training, etc. It gives them a sense of pride to help themselves. I would certainly help someone who cares enough about themselves to want to change their situation.

But if I'm having a hard enough time financially, I don't need to help these guys making more an hour than I am.


anml_lvr said…
I've seen the same thing too! And it also "frosts my cupcakes"!
Signe said…
I hate it when people do things like that. I do try to help people out when I can but these things really make me think twice.
Martha said…
When I see these people it inspires me to give to my local food pantry or salvation army. There I feel my money will go to those in need.
maryt/theteach said…
kden, I believe for the most part panhandlers or homeless people are legitimate. These guys you encountered are among the very few...But when you feel financially compromised, you shouldn't feel guilty and think you have to give money to the legitimate ones.
Jenn Jilks said…
I'm with you. When I lived in the inner city I would take them to a restaurant and buy them a quick meal or a coffee, but I won't give them money!

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