Tips For Beggars

I'm not necessarily opposed to occasionally helping out a person begging on the street or a freeway off ramp. I am more apt to give food, such as my doggie bag if I'm leaving a restaurant or a even granola bar from my car. Of course I also tend to be a sucker for the guy with the dog. I've even given money to some of those folks. Good marketing on their part.

I have noticed a couple of strange incidents with panhandlers lately, particularly on Fairfax Avenue near Canter's Deli, which is why I started thinking about this.
  • First of all, don't refuse food. If you are begging for money, I will assume you are hungry.
  • You might have better luck getting some sympathy (leading to money, food, drink, etc.) if you don't sit there on the sidewalk talking on your cell phone! I know this is L.A. and even 5 year olds have cell phones, but come on! I'm walking on by.
  • Do not sit there on the side of the road counting your dollar bills! You aren't making yourself look so needy and again, I'm moving along.

I'm not a cold-hearted, unsympathetic bitch, but I'm just saying...that's all.


TiggerLarue said...

Panhandlers with cell phones? Now I've heard everything!You don't sound unsympathetic at all. When I lived in SF I typically stuck to giving food. From all I've seen on the news shows money goes to everything BUT food (tobacco, alcohol, etc). I'm suspicious of those who turn their nose up to food. It's hard when they have dogs. There was at least 1 "regular" who had a dog, I gave him a bag of dog treats a couple of times for the dog.

Chris said...

I've done the doggy bag thing, too. Usually, if I'm on business trip and I have no way of keeping the food I take back to the hotel, but I'm too guilty to leave it on the table to go to waste.

Last time we were in San Diego, we gave a half of a Filippi's pizza to a group of homeless people and they seemed pretty happy about it (they weren't even panhandling, we just asked them if they wanted some pizza).

I would have definitely passed on the guy with the cell phone as well.

Joanne said...

I find that I'm strangely more likely to give a panhandler some cash if he or she asks for a specific amount. "Hey you got 75 cents" works better for me than "spare change?" I admit it is completely illogical. :)

I used to have this one here who would yell at me. Which is totally against the law here, and that never made me want to give her money.

I passed on one guy who had more jewelry in his face than I wear on my whole body. He didn't get any spare change either. Usually I try to walk around with no money so when I say "Sorry I don't have any cash" I'm not lying. But I will scrape together whatever money I have to buy the "Real Change" newspaper from the homeless vendors. It supports them without being a handout.

ren said...

when i lived outside of philadelphia, my policy was to only give money to people who were offering a "service". there was a guy named snoopy who would always offer to watch my car when i parked in a certain lot AND HE DID. he would stand right by it and direct traffic around it. i'd give him a few bucks. if a guy had some flowers hee had picked i might give him a dollar for one and there was one guy called "the homeless comic" who would tell you a joke for a dollar. and it wasn't a matter of humilation, i wouldn't ask someone to do something for me for a dollar, but when they offered it, i felt more comfortable about giving a few bucks.

in l.a. i don't see that sort of thing. although i do find that i worry a little about the health of certain people that i see on a regular basis. the guy i used to pass everyday on wilshire has been missing for a while. i'm hoping he found a place to live.

Chris said...

The first time I went to San Diego, I'll have to admit that, if I were a homeless person, that is where I would want to live. It was kinda weird to see homeless people waking up in the park along the bay, playing with their dogs and reading books. At least the weather is nice.

Huntsville doesn't have many panhandlers, since it's such a suburban sprawl. There are a number of homeless people, but for good or ill, they don't have much contact with the public. The weather can be harsh here (but not as bad as the north east, obviously) so I do donate to shelters.

Jodi said...

@Joanne: when I was doing an internship in NYC, I used to buy the homeless publication too. I don't ever recall seeing that here in L.A.

@Ren: Yep, I agree with that too. There was a guy near Hollywood Blvd once who said he'd do a trick for a $1 with this rubber ball he was holding. So he repeatedly and very accurately kept bouncing this ball off of his forehead onto and off of the side of a building. Eric asked him how he learned to do that and suddenly his face, demeanor, and even voice changed and he told us how he'd been in Circus Vargus years ago. I think we gave him another dollar.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen the Toluca Lake homeless guy in a while either. I hope he's okay.

@Chris: I know what you mean about location! It reminds me of an emo philips joke where he's talking about homeless people in Chicago, saying you have to be pretty clever to survive those winters. The punch line is something like "clever enough to at least manage an Applebees."

@justJenn: Yes, I also appreciate the honesty!

Chris said...

This might have a hint as to the cell phones...

Furnished home found in storm drain

Yikes. It's like Beauty and Beast gone bad...

ren said...

i like how chris says "beauty and the beast gone bad" if it was ever good!

Chris said...

I never watched it, I just knew that some people were really into it. I'm not sure I ever sat through an entire episode.

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