“You’d be surprised how difficult it is to ask alms of a stranger when you’ve never done it before, what a psychological barrier separates the honest man from the panhandler. (“Dusk To Dawn”)” ― Cornell Woolrich
S O M E A N T I C S L A C K P L A N N I N G
There are many street hustlers out and about these days who by their actions are corrupting the very reason why many folks in “dire need” take to begging for alms from strangers. These folks are exploitative and greedy and merely play upon the Christian ethic of sharing.This is the tale about one of these holiday “players”. – gc
I noticed this gentleman a week ago guiding his sit down stroller on the freshly shovelled sidewalk of a neighborhood mall. It was a non motorized contraption and his legs provided the power needed to get from one point to another.
The roads were slippery at the time and as I prepared to cross the iced and slippery intersection I noticed that he was a few paces behind me. I held up my arm for approaching vehicles to notice the two of us and momentarily stopped oncoming traffic while he guided his stroller easily and safely across the street.
I dropped my letters into a nearby mailbox and as I walked past him he asked me if I could spare him some money for a cup of joe.
“Could you give me five dollars for a cuppa coffee?” he asked.
“Isn’t that a bit steep for a cup of coffee?” I asked.
“Well…it’s for a coffee and a shot of whiskey to help keep me warm” he replied.
I answered that I did not have the money to give him. I had walked past him earlier as he was “begging” for the same amount of money from another passerby who had just exited a liquor store. The other person had given him the money.
Many times I do have “loose change” that I gladly give to these folks but during the Christmas season I prefer to make my financial donations to food banks and local charities and not the man in the street.
There are two similar “down and out” characters begging for change: (1) the chicken lady who parks her wheel chair near the entranceway of a Kentucky fried chicken store and, (2) an outgoing and amiable younger man who sits besides the liquor store after dark and wishes all who pass by him a good evening. His is more of a “soft sell”.
Their request is somewhat reasonable while the man at the start of this story was downright ridiculous. He did chuckle aloud when I questioned his request.
It is sad that these types of people are constantly nibbling at the emotional heartstrings of the public. But many times life has its share of hustlers.
The “Art of the Dodge” is an effective way of plucking at the kindness of strangers. – gc