Between New Orleans, Memphis and New York I think I have seen and heard it all when it comes to people panhandling. No I am not talking about Social Media panhandling for free tickets, those people are now unfollowed and I don’t see their feeds anymore. I am talking about panhandling for money, food or some just come out and say they need a beer or dope. Truthfully, I am more inclined to give those guys a beer than I am a buck. Sorry sparky, Carbunkle don’t do “The Dope” it is a work thing.
In New Orleans the scam way back was “I bet that I can tell you where you got your shoes” and it was targeted towards the tourists. The correct answer is “on my mudda fucking feet” and “piss off!” Probably the worst were the guys under I-10 or as I always referred to “Needle Park” these guys were pretty aggressive and thankfully the cops came by to clean it out daily.
In Memphis down in the entertainment district there is a problem where the panhandlers prey on tourists, normally foreign, and let me tell you these guys network. Back when the Mississippi Queen would dock at River Landing I would see bums all lined up from Riverside to Beale. They would prey on the foreign tourists and it got kind of bad. Back in the day my brother Mike King led a huge campaign on cleaning up the streets and getting the bums off the street. It had traction but like any campaign flickered out. Paul Ryburn does a good job on his Blog giving tips and blowing the whistle on their latest scams. Truthfully, there needs to be someone to clean them out and make it difficult for them to throw a scam and then they will move on.
Here in New York you have 2 types of bums. Those on the street with the signs in the high tourist areas and those in the subways. Seriously it is amazing that we don’t have any bums here in the Upper East Side. Do we pay extra to ship them to Times Square? Nope, up here it is more residents and the panhandlers know that they can’t get as much money from resident New Yorkers as compared to the tourist areas. If you are going to duck hunt, would you rather hunt in a field or the lobby of the Peabody Hotel? You see what I did there?
Anyway in the trenches of the subway you get to hear all kinds of stories. “My wife is 9 months pregnant”, “I have XXX disease and need help”, “I lost my job and I need formula for my baby” I mean some of these stories are heart wrenching. But here is the thing, if you give them money then they keep on and it keeps feeding the vicious cycle. Mrs. Trumpet keeps a couple granola bars in her purse to give them food. It is harder to trade food for drugs or booze than cash is our rational.
Well all that changed last week when I have to say even I was impressed by this technique. I am sitting there on a very wide open subway train heading to a lunch meeting and someone puts a pack of Kleenex next to me with a note. I glance down and see that rather than “Excuse me Everybody…..” this person did it quietly and without interruption.
I gave the guy a buck and gave him his Kleenex back.
Very non-confrontational and something unique. Worst case is he uses that buck for more toner.
Yeah, this is why I don’t give money. Dude is making more money than I am in an hour!
If you want to give money to the homeless, give to a shelter or a church. Don’t give it to them directly, they probably are a scam artist and using it for drugs or booze. Me, I work hard for my booze money! And as far as drugs, I guess you can call Cigars my drug of choice!