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A friend and I took our wives on a photo safari to The Plant City Strawberry Festival yesterday.  We met in a large parking lot shared by a Hooters and a McDonald's.  We left my car, and rode in his.  After dark, when we returned, I noticed a few people chatting behind a car a few spaces away. 

 As I was transferring my camera and tripod to my trunk, we were approached by man on a bicycle.  He interrupted our goodbyes and began talking.  My wife and my friend saw the “pan-handle “ coming and my wife quickly got in the car while my friend turned and said, “God Bless” before he too, got in his car. 

I asked, “You after money?”

He began telling me how he hadn’t worked in several weeks and was looking for money so he could eat.  I guess I’m a soft touch, and he seemed sincere so I pulled out my money clip and leafed through a few bills until I found a ”fiver”.  When I handed it to him; he said, “There’s a Chinese buffet up the road and I could get all I want for $7”.

I was caught off guard for a few seconds and finally, pointing at the group of people a few parking spaces away, I said, “Maybe you could get a couple of bucks from them”.

His demeanor immediately became sour and he began rolling away on his bike grumbling under his breath.  It  became clear to me that he now thought I was some kind of an asshole!

He went off in the opposite direction from the other people so I assumed he had already hit them up.  When he was about 10 feet away, I said in a loud voice, “You’re welcome!”.

No response.

Any of you have pan-handle stories?


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Comment by Jack Stoddart on March 11, 2015 at 4:49pm

Alison…You've restored a bit of my faith in rational thought.

Comment by Alison Thomas on March 11, 2015 at 2:10pm

I always figure I'd rather give a couple bucks to someone who doesn't need it than risk not giving a couple bucks to someone who does.

Comment by Jack Stoddart on March 11, 2015 at 12:36pm

Personally I think the hookers, lepers, winos and outlaws in general are far more interesting, and often more deserving. Most people would like to rid their cities of the homeless. Not solve the problem, not actually change things. Just fix it so they aren't forced to look at or deal with them. Let me close by saying there are 150,000 homeless veterans. On average 22 veterans commit suicide daily. Many drunken, drug addicted panhandlers are veterans. You don't know who your running from, who your turning your back on….As you get into your 30,000 dollar car. But then, someone might be scamming you and we don't want that. "We all need someone to look down on, and if you want to, you can look down on me."


Comment by Jack Stoddart on March 11, 2015 at 11:20am

I'm not religious, seriously not. But I have read the rule book. There is an interesting story in there about wIne, bread and fish. remember the part where Jesus said "none for you Eliza, your just wanting the wine." We have become such a self righteous, self absorbed one dimensional society. As the great Kris Kristoferson once wrote…"we all need someone to look down on." SOme of the people above have really developed that skill.  I was particularly moved by the person saying "God Bless" as that person quickly got in the car and away. Who among you has been in need? I think, zero ….Anyone can love the lovable. But when you start thinking you know who the deserving are without any information about that person…God ( if there was one) doesn't like it at all.

Comment by Jacki Bilsborrow on March 10, 2015 at 10:03pm

I would be so happy to help someone that was truly in need and hungry.  But, I can't tell who is conning and who is sincere.   I have some strange pan handling experiences.  The people in Seattle and the most creative.  While there we saw people with signs.  One guy had a fishing pole and a sign that hung off the hook that said "fishing for a hooker."  They are all over the streets of Seattle with signs like that.  Then, my sister and I watched a pan handler out side our hotel every morning while we ate breakfast.  He had a sign that said "need to go home, cancer."  Cancer always gets to people's heart strings.  We saw him collecting money.  He was dressed well, too.  We decided to follow him when he left his post.  He would push his sign under this Postal Mail box so he wouldn't have to carry it with him when he went "shopping."  From his post he went around the corner and right into a liquor store.  He shared his corner with another young girl.  Her sign said she had no job and had a couple kids to take care of.  My sister and I went and told her about a store that had a sign that they were looking for help.  She wasn't interested in that.  We asked her where her kids were and she really wasn't interested in talking about the kids that she probably didn't have. 

My niece has tried to help homeless people, too.  She saw a guy begging near a Burger King so she bought him a meal and was filled with the great feeling you have when you help someone.  As she handed him the meal he said "I don't want food, I want money." 

I am not buying anybody their booze, cigarettes, or drugs.  And I won't give any money to people standing in the roadway at stop lights either.  I think that is dangerous enough there should be laws against that. 

Comment by Joel Lockridge on March 10, 2015 at 7:22pm

^^^Disgusted, indeed.  

Comment by Gloria Isackson on March 10, 2015 at 12:33pm

A number of years ago, my husband and I asked a couple we were friends with to go to a concert with us.  They refused ... it was their weekend to panhandle on a very fashionable, upscale area in our city ... they explained that they made as much panhandling one weekend a month as they both did combined in their jobs.  Then they explained that they "shared" the corner with four other couples.  It's hard to get me to the point that I no longer have anything to say, but this disgusted me beyond belief and all I could do was walk away.  Oh yes, they had some great clothes to go along with their "weekend job."  

Comment by Dusty R Shutt on March 9, 2015 at 5:25pm

Living in a military town, we have a lot of homeless vets. I carry $10 food cards from one of the local grocery stores. I've got some of these cards in both of our vehicles. I hand these out as the Lord moves me.

When I was working in one of the downtown galleries, I befriended one of the homeless guys. He made sure the other panhandlers didn't bother me or our clientele. I would on occasion give him either my doggie bags if I had been out to eat for which he was grateful or when we had a gallery opening we'd give him a plate of goodies. So I wasn't hit up for any money, but he did share one time that he could make $100-$200 an evening depending on the night of the week and the time of the year. Since then, the police have a special patrol that assists the homeless to shelters and local soup kitchens.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on March 9, 2015 at 3:19pm

hen I was doing geologic work in Montana I stopped at a rest area. A teen was digging through the trash fro food. I offered him an apple. The reply I got "only if you bare throwing it away". Today I only donate to our local food bank where recipients are vetted. 

Comment by Leslie Turner on March 9, 2015 at 2:21pm

I was at a KFC when a woman with a small child approached me. She told me she had had an argument with her boyfriend and he dumped her and her kid on the side of the road. She needed money for a bus ticket home. Usually, my first reaction would be doubt, and anger that she was involving her child. But this lady was so red in the face, I was afraid she was going to have a stroke. I figured if she was that embarrassed to ask for money, then she had never done it before. So I walked her to the bus station and used my debit card to buy her and her little girl tickets. If someone has evidence that this lady was scamming, I don't want to hear it. I was unable to walk away, unwilling to chance that she was telling the truth. I hate that pan handlers not only scam people out of money, they also steal their trust and compassion.

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