Monday, December 08, 2008

Upscale Panhandling

In the last few months, someone new has become a part of the neighborhood landscape. She has set up shop on the corner by my bank and loudly claims to be collecting money to keep homeless children off the street. As there is no sign or literature or even a collection box with a logo, we are expected to take on faith that she is in fact an angel of mercy and donate large chunks of money to her humanitarian cause.

She is persistent enough to have gotten through an MBA program in entrepreneurship with perhaps a minor in street fighting.

If you decline to empty your wallet into her hands, she assails you with insults referencing your selfishness and uncaring nature and assures you that because of your stinginess, The Homeless Children will remain on the streets until they are old and decrepit. Unless of course, they die first. Which is likely.

I do not believe that she is a homeless person as she appears to be clean and reasonably well-dressed. She is extremely aggressive. Relentless. Indefatigable. You might be impressed with her zeal if there were any indication that she actually represents anyone but herself, but there is not.

Yet she persists.

An entrepreneur must possess innovativeness and flexibility. Financial expertise. Strategy. Managerial autonomy. She must be equipped to recognize opportunity and to develop a business plan in order to be positioned for success in this challenging economy.

I drop dollars into the Salvation Army buckets and help the Christmas begging nuns because I recognize their causes. I also give money on occasion to panhandlers just because they need it. I appreciate their honesty. People in need are welcome to any help I am able to offer.

However, I will not be bullied and shamed into mindlessly giving to someone who is unabashedly running a scam. Insulting me is most definitely not the way to my heart, or my wallet. I have been verbally assaulted by this unpleasant young woman so often that today I almost told her, "I won't give you money because I don't like you."

I also refuse to cross the street to avoid her. She will not run me off my preferred route and I cannot run her out of town on a rail, so we engage in our daily stand-off.

Suffice to say, no holiday cheer is being generated between us.


the walking man said...

I suppose that standing by the freeway exit and looking forlorn is to difficult of a job for this person. It is easier to get the attention to ones business if you scream it out, aggressively put it in the consumers face.

I wonder though what business model it is that suggests that an abuse of this type is one that will be paid for. Is the AMA (American Masochistic Association) is having a convention in town?

On a limb with Claudia said...

wow... I worked for a woman in at UCSF that fits that exact description. I still remember the SOUND of her heels on the tile - that's how much I ... I can't even come up with the words. I wonder if it's her....

This really sucks for you though.

thailandchani said...

I'm surprised that she even gets away with something like that in public! Where are the police?


meno said...

how annoying. I understand why you won't be run off your route though.

I though aggresive panhandling was illegal??

littlepea said...

She should get a dog. Then she wouldn't have to verbally assault or shame anyone into giving her any money. There was a guy(he's probably still there for all I know) at the Florida Turnpike exit in Boca Raton who had a dog with him. He held up a sign that said, "please help me and my buddy get a bite to eat." He waved to people while his dog sat obediently looking forlorn and sweet. This man must be the best paid pan handler because everytime I passed by everyone stopped to give him a couple dollars and pat the dog's head(including myself). Come to think of it, this dog did not appear at all to be malnourished. But any time I asked anyone I knew if they had seen then before, everyone always says yes and that they always give him money because of that dog.

Maria said...

You need to report this person to the police. What she is doing is not only in very bad taste, it is illegal.

Let her serve a few days for this. Or simply go up to her and kindly ask for her documentation. I would lie like a rug and tell her that I was with the BBB or something.

Might be worth it to watch her back down.

franki said...

Guilt is a terrible lubricant. Girl needs finishing school. You should just tell her you don't like her. Might be monumental to her growth.

Are u still having issues with my blog?

Warty Mammal said...

To paraphrase Monty Python, "I fart in her general direction."

heartinsanfrancisco said...


People have always used other people's money for business ventures. I really don't object to the panhandling as much as the cloaking of it in legitimacy, and the abuse heaped on those who fail to produce.


She is short and tough-looking, probably in her late 30's, with a raucous voice reminiscent of crows fighting in a tree. Does that help?



She hasn't physically assaulted anyone, as far as I know, so the police have better things to do.

She yells at people, demanding to know why they don't want to get homeless children off the streets and I wonder if she is sponsoring a posse to round 'em up. She should be a little more specific about her intentions.


It may well be. Since she purports to be collecting donations for a cause, she may be slipping under the radar.

It's even possible that she is actually doing as she says, but if so, there should be some indicator besides her accusatory spiel.

Sweet Pea,

I also give to beggars with dogs, even though I once saw a guy end his "shift" and leave "his" dog with the guy who replaced him at his post.


I have considered requesting her documentation but she doubtless bites and is probably rabid.


Yes. It crashed repeatedly again while I was reading your Holly post. There seems to be a problem with the feed, or else our computers are at war which is too bad because we're buds. I wish my computer would choose another enemy instead.


It's a rough job but somebody's got to do it.

franki said...

I sent you an email (from another personal account) copying my blog server guy Ben. Maybe he can sort it out.

It's prob Tom Cruise's fault.

Ian Lidster said...

Some of the brasher panhandlers do very well indeed. Good for you. Frankly, I never give money to panhandlers and never feel guilty about not doing so. And, I won't share money that will merely go to an addiction. They, especially the young and apparently able-bodied are the ones that really gall me. I tunr quite reactionary and feel like saying: "Get a fucking job." I don't because I don't want a confrontation, so I merely feign deafness.
But, as you suggest, if they put s much effort into legitimate work instead of scrounging, they'd do well. By the way, I don't include dumpster divers to be among the panhandlers. They offer a good recycling service in communities.

PeterAtLarge said...

I had a friend, an artist, who lived in downtown LA. Although financially strapped herself, she never went out without a few dollar bills to pass out to the genuinely poor and homeless people living on the streets. I still wonder at this woman's spirit of generosity--and she was (I hope still is, somewhere,) a fine painter. I agree, though, about those who choose to make a living at it, no matter how poor a living, and who curse you out when you fail to succumb to their con.

RED MOJO said...

That's incredibly obnoxious! Good for you for standing up to her. I know I'd be crossing to avoid her. (chicken-shit)

Eastcoastdweller said...

Be strong, Susan. You, not this person, have the right to decide what to do with Your hard-earned money, and how much of it and in what way You will share it with the needy.

Sounds to me like You are having a stand-off with a determined socialist -- one who is too lazy to run for office.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'll tend to that now that I'm home again. Thanks.

But meanwhile, yeah, round up the usual suspects.


I admit that when able-bodied young people hit me up for money, I also want to tell them to get a job, even though I realize that those who choose such a life style are especially damaged.


Still, I prefer the honesty of panhandlers who hold signs saying "Why lie? Need a beer" to those who profess to be collecting for a charity when there is no sign of it.


She is one mouthy bitch, I tell you, but I won't cross the street because I'd be giving her more power than she deserves.


I guess you could say that all panhandlers are Socialists - what's mine is theirs. It's all in the presentation, though. When they ask nicely, they sometimes have a chance. I am more likely to buy them food or hot apple cider, though.