Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Cardboard Concession

I don't know how it is in other places, but around here, the highway intersection beggars are organized. They move around, so that you're not always seeing the same person on the same corner. You'll see a different person on that corner, and that person on a different corner.

In my travels yesterday, I must have seen upwards of a dozen, and some of them were even getting donations.

I can't see it, myself, though I have been told that they make more than they could at a regular job.

You talk about immigrants not paying taxes! Do you think these people are doing so? I don't. Anyone who works a regular job, with a SS card, valid or not, pays into the Social Security system, and invalid card holders never collect. Beggars don't pay any taxes.

I strongly dislike the thought of begging, and would rather go hungry, but maybe I've just never been that hungry. No matter how down and out I have been, I have always managed to work and support myself, rather than begging from strangers.

Each beggar his his or her cardboard sign: "SINGLE MOM...HOMELESS...WILL TAKE ANYTHING!" "GOD BLESS YOU." "OUT OF WORK...THREE KIDS." You get the picture.

Call me heartless, but I won't give them anything. There are always odd jobs, house cleaning, delivering fliers.


  1. 2 things...at a corner here by Costco, the same guy sits there day after day. He hides his pickup truck in the parking lot....we've seen him go to it. Some days he has a cane, some days a crutch, some days nothing, some days has a dog.

    The other one was we were coming home from a convention, and the food had been phenomenal. They sent everybody home with lunch that day in beautiful little shell dishes, but they were made to take on the road.

    We pulled up alongside one of them, whose sign said how hungry they were. So having this yummy food, we decided to give the guy the food. After we pulled away, I watched the bastard THROW IT AWAY. I was so mad. So since then, I don't even give it a second thought.

    Homeless people here get checks. I think that is wrong when there are elderly people not getting the health care they need because they can't afford it. Elderly people who have worked all their lives.

    Ouch, sorry. I could rant on this for a while, but I won't!

  2. I don't see anything like that here.
    But I did see it in another place,and the person was actually dressed in a suit! had on nicer clothes then me...lol
    somehow that struck me as weird,and I watched other people give him all kinds of food from the grocery store(he was standing out at the end of the parking lot of the store near the out) I watched for a while. (curious lol) I was waiting for someone to come out of a store,and I saw him take all the bags he had gotten and walk over to a car that looked almost new! I didn't get it then how people fall for that stuff,and I still don't get it now! The nerve! I so couldn't do anything like that I would die of embarrassment. But then I guess it takes all kinds to make the world go round!

  3. How weird that you should post this today, Ronni.

    Hubby & I were talking about this very thing last evening. He was down visiting his Dad yesterday when a knock came at the door. There stood a young man who passed hubby a wallet-sized card saying he was "deaf & dumb" (language that people who are hearing impaired abhor)and asking him for money (minimum of $10)in exchange for the said card which had the Americian Sign Language alphabet on it.

    Hubby is a very generous man who happens to work with people with disabilities so it wasn't without some discomfort that he sent that man on his way. He said the whole thing didn't "feel right" for several reasons.

    Number one, he was out & out begging -- preying on the sympathy of others. We have a very good social assistance system here - especially for people who have disabilities and related support needs -- including employment supports with generous incentives. Jobs are relatively easy to get here at the present. The government will even provide a support worker or job coach if needed.

    Number two, we have well stocked food banks with a "no one turned away" policy. We have 2 thrift stores in town where people who are on social assistance (or with a letter from their pastor) can shop free of charge.

    Number three: The GST rebate cheques, which all low income people would receive, arrived last Friday.

    Here's the clincher -- after the man had turned and started to walk away, hubby said in a low voice "wait a minute please" and this poor deaf beggar turned around! There went hubby's discomfort! LOL

    I have had similar experiences where I looked down (so s/he couldn't see my lips) and asked about the card - 9 times out of 10, I'd get a response.

    We don't have any street corner beggers nor homeless people here but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that anyone can hold up a sign, name any number of children and scam you of your hard earned money with a "God Bless You" in return. Many, not all, are laughing all the way to the bank.

    I don't mean to sound totally cold-hearted - we contribute to our favorite charities, food drives and do a lot of volunteer work, but I can't understand why a person can panhandle door-to-door based on how well s/he hears. I suppose one could argue that he is selling these cards but they are provided free of charge by the Hard of Hearing Society to anyone who has a need or an interest. Lacking either the need or interest, why would one want to buy it - for a minimum of 10 bucks no less?

    A few years back, we had a tenant who would send her very young kids to my door asking for money for food. Sometimes, on the coldest day of the winter. After the first few times, I stopped giving money and instead would drive the kids home with some bags of groceries. When even that became a twice weekly occurance (seems she had a bingo addiction), I had to ask her to stop. She was totally shameless. In addition to her food allowance, trips to the food bank, and the food I was giving her, she continuously stiffed us on the rent. I felt so badly for those poor kids.

    She moved out in the middle of the night (owing 2+ months in back rent) and had sold everything that wasn't nailed down - including light fixtures, door knobs, blinds & draperies - even the hinges and handles for my cabinets - which she had painted a gawd-awful bright blue!

    Although I have never been destitute, I suppose I would beg if my children were hungry -- but I can't ever see the need for that -- at least not here - and not while I was able to scrub a floor. It certainly would be the choice of last resort.

  4. I agree that begging seems to be across some rubiconian line of civil behaviour, separating the 'us' from 'them', but I remain unconvinced that the people doing it are capable of either employment or maintaining a stable lifestyle via social services (or whatever it is called in the US).Mental illness and homelessness can be an insurmountable barrier to getting any job. I don't know if there is a solution, but I do know that assuming that everyone can be employed seems to me to be an idea that doesn't jibe with what I have seen of the economics of entry level positions or what I have experienced in terms of dealing with depression.

  5. Whatever the answer is, it's not begging.

    If people need help, they need to get some. Trust me, I know how difficult that is. I benefitted from food stamps and medicaid for several years. And housing assistance, as well. You know what? I got to where I was working enough that I didn't qualify for it any more, and I did all right.

    I understand that there are some out there psychologically much worse off than I was, but I truly believe that the vast majority fo beggars are quite capable of holding a job. They are capable of standing out there in the hot sun all day, trying to guilt people like me into giving away what I can't afford to.

  6. yeah, the majority of beggars are standing around in the hot sun all day guilting people into feeding their addictions because that is all they can do. Given the choice, most of the substance abusers I have met work in construction, as temp labour, since the money is better. But when they get too screwed up or the jobs aren't there, they do whatever they can, And eventually untreated mental illness and/or substance abuse narrows your career options down to charity. And sooner or later the will to self destruction limits the charity options down to a cardboard sign.
    I'm not saying that it is right, or that these people should be given money. What I am saying is that they aren't there because its a conscious choice.