Thursday, June 22, 2006


Last night was my third session of the writing class I’m taking. I parked beside SteamWorks (for those of you that know Vancouver) like I normally do. When I went to pay for parking I was approached by a panhandler. Now it should be known that I don’t like giving anyone money just because they ask for it. Never have. Normally I just say “sorry I don’t have any” which is usually the truth. That’s what I said yesterday…while flashing my Visa. You have to admit, it is pretty smart to ask people for spare change while they are pumping a machine with it. Oh, and his opening line was “is it [the machine] working for you?” Because the first time I put my card into the machine it didn’t read it. That’s brilliant too, offering to help so that they feel grateful and then want to give you money.

Anyhow, he asked if the machine was working, which it did the second time thankyouverymuch. Then he asked for money. When I refused he added “I’m homeless and I’m just trying to get money for food”. Sorry. Doesn’t work on me. I went back to my car to put the parking receipt “face up on the dashboard” and grab my books. I also grabbed the apple that I had been planning on having for a snack. I went back over to him and said “I don’t have any money but you’re welcome to this apple”. He gratefully accepted it and immediately started eating it.

It was interesting. I still refuse to give them money but I might be inclined to carry more apples with me.



Veronica in Aus said...

I'm with you - I don't hand out cash either.

I do like the approach of offering him food ;) Very clever.

See my main concerns with giving cash are 1) they'll likely spend it on something other than food (drugs, cigarettes, etc.) or 2) if I get my wallet out, they may try to take more than what I am prepared to give (ie mug me)

The one place in the world that panhandling was worst (to me)? Ireland. It totally freaked me out. I had never seen anything like it. People just standing on the sidewalk with their hand out-stretched. Not even speaking.

scrappygirl said...

Unless they're holding a clever sign - like the guy standing in front of a Burger King holding a sign "Hungry - would love a hamburger," I generally don't hand out money either for the same reasons Veronica stated.

In your case the guy was truly hungry and at least your apple was something nutritious for the guy to eat.