9/27/07

So withOUT giving a personal opinion ...

I'm going to bring up the homeless.

Don't get me wrong here as I have a *definate* opinion on homelessness (and if you have been to or live in here in Ptld, we have some "homelessness issues") but this is just going to be some of my recent run-ins:

1) We have groups of ppl that go to where the homeless are and feed them. Take them whatever they need - food, clothing, bedding, etc. There is one such group that feeds dinner to a bunch of folks just a few blocks from where I work. I drive by and see the ppl that are feeding the homeless picking up the garbage that the feed-ees are just throwing on the ground, even though there are garbage cans provided for them.

2) There are always ppl hanging on the corners near the freeway entrances begging. Often it's the same ppl, same spot, every day. I believe they 'stake their claim' on a specific corner. I see the same guy out there, day and night, daily, no matter the weather with his sign, hunched over looking pathetic. I've been up close to this fella, often. One day I see him in the local Fred's with a bag o' change for the CoinStar machine with a lady that is often a few blocks down at the next ramp. They are laughing and joking and talking about their "haul" for the day. Hoping they made enough to pay the truck payment this month. He wasn't hunched over a'tall and had on more expensive Nike's than what I wear and/or can afford.

3) I was walking into Powells one evening and got hit up for some change from a fairly young lady sitting in front with her friend that has his guitar. I tell her I don't have any small change but the bar right around the corner is hiring for a dishwasher and sign in the window has today's date on it. She started cussing me out because I wouldn't just give her some larger bills.

4) On any given night you can see various young people around town holding signs that say some derivative of "spare any change for beer". Personal favorites so far: ' Alcoholic in Training, need money for school' and 'betcha can't hit me w/a quarter'.

5) Sitting at the corner waiting on the light to get to the freeway one night we (both lanes) had to wait on this hunched over, sad looking fella walking across the fwy entrance to stand on a corner where there was already another not-as-sad-looking fella standing. The 1st fella got angry. Started cussin' and whatnot and decided to go to the off-ramp instead of the on-ramp where they were both currently standing. But he was really agitated. Kept pacing back to yell some more. Finally they ended up in a fist fight over the corner. Neither of them looked too sad then.

10 comments:

Donna said...

This is all quite interesting to me, since I live in the country near a tiny town, and never see people begging.

Hilly said...

I'm kind of with Donna....I grew up in a city where there were homeless people abounds and had my own NON opinions about the whole thing. But, I've lived such a sheltered life over the last four years that now I hardly see anyone begging. I wish it was true that no one had to...I really do.

Jenn L said...

I wonder how Ptld compares with Chicago. I can't walk a block without being accosted at least twice. They hang out at the bus stops, in front of every food/coffee and pharmacy location, train stations, etc. A couple of them do actually put forth a bit of effort and I will occasionally give a bit to the guy who plays his saxophone (he doesn't have a large repertoire but he's pretty good at what he does play) and try to keep some food on hand for another guy who was seriously injured on the job (he's been at the same corner for over a decade and I've had dozens of attorneys vouch for him). He gets disability and does have a place to sleep, but disability isn't enough to keep him fed and clothed, so I help him out when I see him.

#2 is the one that makes me the craziest, and I've seen the same kind of thing. Nasty scuzzy smelly on the street during the day, and gee conveniently cleaned up and lookin pretty sharp at night out to dinner. Thank you theater season passes for that discovery.

Sizzle said...

back in The Cruz, we had a very large homeless population. some were really down and out or dealing with mental health stuff (or not dealing as the case may be) and some were what we'd call "trustafarians" as in they had money but traveled around looking scruffy and panhandling.

i'm careful who i give my money too. i get really ticked off when there is a self-rigteousness about it (like that girl you experienced in front of powells).

mostly it just makes me sad.

Tragerstreit said...

I saw a kid in front of Pioneer Park with a sign, "Spit on me for 25 cents". I nearly kicked him. Have some fucking self respect.

I'm originally from somewhere with a much higher homeless population, and most of them older folks. I admit to being a little jaded about the street kiddies asking for money but have new knee high Doc Martens on. Those things aren't cheap. Plus, they all seem to disappear when the weather turns bad.

On the other hand, I've known a few homeless folk who completely brightened my day when I saw them, they always had a smile for me whether I had change for them or not. Some really amazing stories, some of them. And of course you get the jackasses who are just playing you.

Whether I give them money or not, I at least have the decency to look them in the eye when I respond. Scammers or unfortunates, they're human - and meeting their gaze is a great way to detect a play or make them feel a little less like trash.

BarnGoddess said...

well, I have an opinion.

I understand that some people have 'mental issues' and go off their meds or do not take their meds or whatever...okay I get that.

But then there are the homeless who are alcoholics or druggies or those who just do not want to work. These people NEED to get a J-O-B!!!!!!!!!!!

BarnGoddess said...

well, I have an opinion.

I understand that some people have 'mental issues' and go off their meds or do not take their meds or whatever...okay I get that.

But then there are the homeless who are alcoholics or druggies or those who just do not want to work. These people NEED to get a J-O-B!!!!!!!!!!!

The Acid Queen said...

Oh bugger me....

At my job (convenience store), I see bums like that all the time--perfectly able-bodied people that would rather take the easy way out and prey on people who are too weak to tell them to FOAD and get a godsdamned job. When I go out to chase them from the property, I get threatened, I have lit cigs thrown at me, I once got followed back into the store by one dude who was cussin' me out right before he started hassling people for money IN THE STORE....

I have all kinds of sympathy for people that are homeless and just can't help themselves, the mentally ill and so on. But the people that just want a free ride? Puck 'em.

Anonymous said...

In Chicago, we don't get too many slacker youths. The weather isn't so good for that. Some city report (maybe to look good for proposed Olympic bid) said there are 24 (24!)homeless people in Chicago. That would be true if they only counted the ones in front of the main train stations. You will get asked for money on average twice per city block.
There are many spare change "lifers." Some obviously have some mental/psyical disabilities. I have my doubts about the young fella I see with one crutch. I have no respect for those who drag their kids into it. I am referring to a young well dressed man (pristine white sneakers, expensive jersey) who sits on a bridge over the Chicago River with his kid and requests money for food. There are also the taxi hustlers: unsavvy visitor takes taxi to train station, taxi hustler springs to open the door and expects money for this "service."
We have 9 to 5 spare changers (see em every day, five days a week) and the weekend specials (those who only come out to hustle tourists/out of towers on Sat & Sun.) I do give change to a corner regular near where I work. He sure does not look like he is getting rich off of it. I am guessing he has a substance issue in his past/present. He is low key in his approach and I guess that helps.

whall said...

We never give money to the homeless, but we do several other things.

Every year at XMAS, the kids and I (5 and 13), and sometimes their cousins, age ranging 4 to 12) go out in a big minivan and deliver large bags of stuff - handmade blankets, toothbrushes/toothpaste, deoderant, $5 gift cards to Mcdonald's, breakfast bars, floss, comb, toilet paper roll and dog food if they have a dog. I have the kids get out and deliver to them while we get their name and write it on the gift card. I believe we make a bigger impact than spare change. You can see it in their eyes, the ones who really appreciate the care and loving - and you can also see it in the ungrateful one's eyes.

I also frequently offer meals to the homeless when I travel - in Seattle alone I took out 4 homeless guys, heard their stories, let them have a good meal and tell them someone's thinking about them.

I like to give but I hate getting taken advantage of.