Archive for May 10th, 2009

The Panhandler Pushback

Sunday, May 10th, 2009


When I was younger and had more money, I always gave bums change or a dollar when they asked for it. I guess I felt guilty that I had so much and they had so little. Bums seemed to be nicer then – more appreciative – more mannered. I don’t know if I’ve changed or they have – but these days I get a different feeling. Bums aren’t only more aggressive in approaching me, they’re not nearly as thankful, and when I contribute, it’s not uncommon for them to ask for more!

 A few months ago I got fed up with the whole business when this bum gave me a pretty good whine and I took out my wallet. I had a one and a five. I gave him the one and he actually said I should have given him the five! I snatched back my one and started yelling at him until he went away – all the while pleading for the one back. He didn’t get it.

 After that I came up with a different bum strategy and the results surprised me. For a number of weeks now, when a bum starts to ask me for money, “Sir, pardon me, sir?” – I immediately interrupt and say, “Buddy, do you have an extra dollar? I haven’t worked in months now and I’ll pay you back – really!”

 How did I think they’d react? Something like, “Don’t have it man. I was hoping to get something from you. See ya.” But bums don’t act like that at all. They get ticked – REALLY ticked! I’ve been cursed at, yelled at, and many have spit out an unnatural act they say I committed with my Mother! So I finally figured it out. If the shoe were on the other foot and these guys had some extra cash, they would no more give it to a stranger than they would heave it into the street. Strangers are just suckers waiting to be licked.

 They certainly won’t give me a buck – or even a dime. So from now on I’m going to have fun interrupting bums and asking them for money. I’ll let you know if one ever gives me anything more than an annoyed, disgusted look or a curse.