July 29, 2011 by admncc
As kids, we’ve all been in this situation…you’re walking with your parents and a homeless person comes up and solicits you for money. Being young, you naturally feel bad and want to give them something, such as food or money. Then your parents tell you that the bum only wants the money for alcohol. And then you’re scarred for life. OK, maybe it doesn’t always work that way, but you know what I mean.
My wife has always said that I’m a sucker for bums on the street. Actually, what she really says is that I have “sucker” written across my forehead. LOL. However, rather than being a sucker, I’d like to believe that I’m simply kindhearted. I’m happy to put some change in a homeless person’s cup as I walk into a baseball game. I’m happy to toss a dollar in the cup of the guy playing a saxophone when I’m downtown. I’m also happy to give the lady outside the video store a few bucks to buy milk. Does that mean I’m a sucker and foolish? Some would say yes. Other would argue no.
Because not all bums are bums, right? Yeah, I know! I’ve often joked that I’m sure some of them drive a nicer car than me. But how do you determine who’s truly in need and who’s homeless? I follow my gut.
Take the below-gentleman for instance. Every single day when I drive by Wal-Mart, he’s standing there. He stands on the same corner at the same time and holds the same sign. He’s apparently hungry and diabetic. And wow, you should see the number of cars that stop for him. Everybody gives him money! But what they don’t know is that this is the same guy who stood by a mall down the road for most of 2010. And his sign over there was different. I believe it said that he was homeless and a military veteran.
So I pulled my car up to this guy at Wal-Mart the other day and said that I wanted to take his picture for my blog. He seemed hesitant, even when I offered him a dollar. Eventually, we got to $10 and the agreement that I could take a picture but wouldn’t use his name. But I couldn’t help but wonder if his hesitation was because he isn’t homeless, hungry or diabetic at all. As an HR Guy, quite frankly, I refuse to believe that any person can’t find some kind of job in over two years. And as my neighbor put it, even if he wasn’t working, he’d still qualify for Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps – but he’s probably still making more standing in front of Wal-Mart. Heck, this dude is probably the one who owns the mansion down the road from me. What are your thoughts about this kind of charity?
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My before and after school job was for a family friend in their deli.Small town,everyone knew every one.I gave lots of “food” hand outs at the end of the evening rather than throw thing out in the dumpster.None went to those who “had”.The struggling family with 13 kids trying hard to make ends meet,the older gentleman in the rooming house with no family,another new family to the area with a disabled child and large medical bills.Today I would have to think long and hard about “giving” & “gut” instinct.I would still give but not as freely as I did in the 70’s.
I would have to agree with you on the follow my gut theory. When I lived in Maryland, there was someone who was homeless on nearly every corner, by nearly every stop light. I admit, I am a lot more inclined to help women than men. However, if I have the inkling that something isn’t right (like I’m definitely having with that guy in the picture), I would probably just avoid eye contact. I do donate and I even volunteer… so I know that sometimes people need help, but what I don’t like is using people’s good faith to scam them. It’s better to trust that little voice inside all of our heads for things like this.
Ugh…. it is so hard to know! I just finished reading the book “Same kind of different as me” Such a good story about a homeless man and I totally recommend it if you haven’t read it. Anyway, We truly have no idea what the circumstances of these peoples lives are. Why they are standing on that corner and what put them there. I’ve definitely handed out a few bucks here or there (I’m not one to have a ton of cash on me anyway.) However, I am totally willing to donate ~ food, money and time to charities in our area. One day, however I was driving out of a parking lot with my 2 year old daughter and a woman (no sign) came and knocked on my window asking for a ride. I politely told her No. For one, I would NEVER allow a stranger into my car when my children were in the car ~ OK, I wouldn’t if they wearn’t in the car! But it was also nice out, she was standing by a bus stop and only wanted to go about a mile from where we were. She got super crabby and demanding ~ nope, no handouts for her!
That walmart dude can get Medicaid. If he has less than $2000. there are plenty of homeless people in nursing homes. Shelter, food, and clothing. Plus, $60/mo. Although, your walmart friend might get more by standing on the corner. Although, the nursing home has pharmacy services. Anyway, if he’s diabetic giving him money won’t help. He’s probably non compliant.
Really, you can’t “trust” that any of them truly need the money. However, he won’t starve. There are plenty of homeless shelters and places he can get 3 meals a day. If I give them a $1 then it’s theirs to do with as they wish. But if your sign says “hungry” I’m buying your ass food. Don’t say you’re hungry when what you really mean is, “I want alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.”
I live in a town of about 8,000 so I don’t see this firsthand much, but occasionally when I go out of town I see them, usually around Wal Mart and Best Buy. What got me was that as I pulled into the parking lot, the guy was talking on his I Phone. I saw the Apple logo on the back of it. I have a hard time giving someone money when they are talking on an expensive phone that requires an even more expensive contract.
I always give money to street musicians, usually no one else though. You don’t have to be homeless in this country, it’s a choice.
John Stossel did a great piece on freeloaders. Go to YouTube and type in John Stossel Freeloaders, and you’ll get a new insight into the street corner scam artist.
I’m a sucker for a homeless person too, but I’ve been burned too many times and been chased down the street by people who wanted more and more! (hey lady, can I have 50 cents? Oh, why didn’t you give me a dollar! Don’t you have a dollar?!?)
I agree with Don, if they play an instrument or sing it’s a no-brainer, they will get my money every time and I will gladly do it.
Check their shoes, that’s how you can tell if they are truly homeless!
I always go with my gut. But then worst case you’ve only been burned for a dollar.
I myself have given spare change to the homeless knowing it doesn’t help/improve the situation and a couple of other times I’ve given them food. The funniest sign I ever saw a homeless person holding was a few years back and it read: “I Won’t Lie, I Need Smokes.” The “diabetic” man: I don’t see why he didn’t want his name published- you’d think he would want to be helped out.
What I dislike is when a homeless person comes right up to my car window at a red light knocking hard while shaking a styrofoam cup in their hands. More than often it’s some snaggle tooth guy
RE: “I refuse to believe that any person can’t find some kind of job in over two years”
That reminds of a scene from Christmas Vacation:
Clark- In 7 years he (Cousin Eddie) couldn’t find a job.
Ellen: Katherine says he’s holding out for a management position.
When I see that, part of me says give. Part of me says they are honest, needy and thankful. Then the other part of me that grew up in a real small town says that they have to work for what they need/want. I do every day. I agree with you in not being able to find a job w/ in 2 years. I was looking for about a year and a half to find something comparable or better than the one that I had, but had multiple opportunities that I could have done to “get by”.
I consider myself lucky to have the employment opportunity that I have, but also want to go on record that I made it happen. No one handed it to me, and that is why I probably don’t just hand over what is mine. I’ve worked in soup kitchens. I’ve done plenty of homelessness awareness fund raisers. I think i’ve done my share. (sounds greedy but oh well.) @ Jen Who really looks at a mans shoes anyways..
I used to walk through the Boston Common on my way to a client and every day gave a one person a dollar. I just went by my gut. Soon, others would come to sit with him, but I didn’t give them anything. don’t know what made me agree to that, but I think he counted on my visit.
I give give give. Yes, I know I’m stupid. I just feel so bad for people that are on the street that I find myself always reaching into my cup holder and giving the guy on the street a buck or two. My husband however doesn’t. He gives MORE. He only gives more if the person is honest though. My husband doesn’t give a damn about the guy that is holding a sign saying he’s hungry and a diabetic because he doesn’t believe it. He will give a guy $5 if his sign says “Need a beer” or if the “bum” approaches him and asks for money for beer. He won’t give money if someone wants drugs but he’s good with beer.
I tend to feel more sorry for the people that do look homeless and hungry. I remember on our friends birthday we were walking out of an expensive restaurant with “to go” bags and a bum approached saying he was cold and hungry. I handed over my to go back with the rest of my husband’s steak and my sea bass. He needed it more than we did and I’m sure he enjoyed it more than we would have.
I used to have a friend who would take homeless people into a coffee shop and buy them a warm beverage and a sandwich. I think that is sweet.
this is something i have a serious problem with too. I am a total softy. How is that we are so snarky and sarcastic and complainy, yet so wholesome and gooey on the inside??
i guess, what my dad always told me was that if you do what you feel is right to do, then your hands are clean. so if you give money, and they use it for bad purposes, that’s not on you. cus in some cases, there really are people who need it for whatever reason. and i can’t help but feel guilty that they could REALLY need it.
plus, i live in chicago and it’s damn cold. I think people deserve money just for sitting out on the street in that frigid weather.