"Why are all those people standing there?"

Picked up this fairly young, cool couple just before Thanksgiving from a hotel downtown and heading over to Genoa (one of the best Eyetalian food joints here) for dinner. As we're tooling along we're discussing where they're from (small town in Minnesoowta [my attempt to mock "Fargo"]) and how much of a "small, big city" Portland is. (We try anyway).

Just across the river from downtown there is a homeless joint where there are about 60 folks standing in line for dinner.

She: Look at that honey! Driver? Why are all those people standing there?"

Me: Hmmmm, giving out pumpkin flavored meth again I imagine. It's that time o' the year.

He: Um, you mean "meth-amphetamine"?

Me: Yup. I look in the mirror, apparently I've scared them. Well, this IS Portland after all. Still scared. Um, I-5 corridor? More worried looks exchanging. Oooookay, I'm kidding! They're standing in line to get dinner. Those are homeless people.

She: Oh my Gawd!! You have THAT many homeless people in Portland?!

Me: That is just a tiny percentage of the homeless that reside here.

The discussion got somewhat political after that so I won't bore you. But I found this one amusing.


Tragerstreit said...

(pumpkin flavored meth. Heck yah. we need an ad agency on this STAT.)

I bet they call it "The AIDS" too. And that extra fancy lad down the street, he has "The Gay".

Rick said...

I used to work very near a soup kitchen in San Francisco. My midwestern parents were appalled to learn that I had to check under my car before leaving the parking lot. Otherwise, we might have transient pancakes.

Jenn L - Needleful Things said...

Okay, this is sad.... I'm used to seeing allegedly homeless panhandlers all the time. I say allegedly cause there was a news story a few years back about how many of them were making so much money begging that they could live rather cushy lives in Lakeshore condos, nightlife and fancy cars, and all tax-free because there was no reportable income. And then there are the gangs of beggars that get dropped off by van or bus in the morning and picked back up after evening rush.

Yeah, I stopped giving out even food after that. Well, except for two people that I still believe.

Anyway, a line of 60 to 100 people in front of the shelter wouldn't have fazed me a bit.

(p.s., I think they changed the comment ID thing again...)

whall said...

My motto is to give personally, and give something that matters. The gov't shouldn't give; people should. I SHARE a meal with a homeless person instead of giving them money. The family makes scarves and gives toothpaste, toilet paper, floss, etc instead of money.

When it's personal, the receiver truly understands the sacrifice inherent in the giving, and they're emboldened to make a difference for themselves. And they actually appreciate it.

When the receiver gets something from a cold brick building from an hourly person yelling out "NEXT" to give out chowder or a welcare check, there's no incentive for them to change. Entitlement creeps in.

june in florida said...

Your fares got a "welcome to the real world".First of the month in Hyannis i used to drive the homeless(checks came out) to cash their checks.I would think how close i was to being one myself.Get sick, cant work or pay rent and there you are.

BarnGoddess said...

oh, to be that naive!

divebarwife said...

Even if they were from Minneapolis it would probably be a shocker. It's a bigger city than Portland (or pretty darn close) but nowhere near the number of homeless. Of course it's also -12 on average in the winter....

My Fare City said...

one time I picked up a homeless dude, ride was being paid for by paratransit script, anyway, he was having an argument with himself, out loud. I made a point of not interrupting him. I am happy to report that by the time I dropped him off (at the shelter) that he had made up with himself.

Manic Witch said...

I would rather wait for the eggnog meth myself. Or in a pinch, peppermint.
Ho Ho Ho.