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How much sympathy?

March 13, 2010

How much sympathy do you have for homeless people or those that beg on the street? No, they are not always one and the same thing. Yes, sometimes they are one and the same thing.

The answer to this question lies much in the fact of whether or not you have ever lived in a big city where you go downtown often enough to really have contact with those who beg or live or both on the street. You don’t get much of it in Small Town USA. One reason is because of our loitering laws (something Spain, and it appears France, do not have).

I have to admit that I am a bit hardened to those who beg on the streets. I have lived in too many big cities in different countries to be as soft as many tourists are. In order to get money out of me there are some criteria that has to take place:

1. If you are young and it looks like you are hooked on drugs or a lifestyle that brings you to the streets, I will not give you money. Being addicted to drugs would be hard, I agree, but I won’t give you my hard earned money (that my husband worked for!) in order for you to walk around the city with your open can of beer laughing at the swirls that your high is making you see. Been there, done that, though I never asked for money and never lived on the street….but it doesn’t change my opinion. Get clean. Get a life.

2. If you are old I will give you money. If you are old and I find you digging through the garbage I will most likely ( I should say WE) give you quite a bit of money and any food that I have on hand. Of course this old person may be just as hooked on alcohol or drugs or perhaps was the young person a few decades ago that I wouldn’t give money to, but now that they are too old to work, too far gone, I will give them money. I feel for the old. (I know I should say “elderly” but my grandmother hates that word with a passion and has taught me not to have it in my mind!)

3. If you are trying to trick people, I will not give you money. There is this man, who is young btw, who everyday is lying on the street asking for people to help him up. If someone helps him up he asks them for money. If they person doesn’t give it to him he insults them. Either way he immediately lies back down and starts the whole game over again. The shop people say they have called the police multiple times, but he always comes back. Yesterday instead of being a few streets over he was on our street almost right in front of our house. Which brings me to point 4.

4. If you try to TOUCH my child I will NOT give you money. WTF? Why are you trying to touch my child? Not to be prejudice and al but you most likely haven’t washed your hands that well and so should not be trying to touch my child’s face. Besides the fact that you just shouldn’t touch my kid. No one should. No. NO NO NO NO NO! The guy lying on the street got within a centimeter of Queenie’s face yesterday and would have touch her full out were it not for my super-mommy stroller moving reflexes. It scared the begeebies out of Queenie who immediately started crying (she also just doesn’t like strangers right now) and quite honestly it was the love of Jesus in my heart that kept my from kicking the guy in the face. That love was not strong enough to spare him some swear words in English though.

5. If you have a child with you I will not give you money. Not cool people. Every where I go, every show I see about people on the streets (there are actually quite a few shows in Europe that go around talking to people on the streets, etc.) everyone says the same about those children: they are being used to ensue sympathy and half the time they aren’t even that person’s kid. Even if it is that person’s kid, I hate the fact that they are using that child instead of taking advantage of the public daycare where they have access. I won’t give them money.

6. If I see you exchange your spot with another person as routinely as one might punch in and out of a job, I will not give you money. Yes, I have seen this. High fives and everything before they settle down, put on their sad face and hold out their cup.

Do I sound heartless? If you are thinking that I would bet you have never lived in a big city. Or in Europe. As I said before there are a lot of people who beg and live on the street here. I’m convinced an anti-loitering law would help with the professional beggars. Not with the drug addicts but at least it would get the professional beggars out of the way. And before you start taking me off of your reading list let me add this one thing: this list only applies to the USA and Europe in that these countries have social programs and help set up. Especially socialized Europe. I’m not talking about India or Thailand or China or Nepal, etc.

Still think I’m a bitch? Maybe I shouldn’t be so honest. But that’s what we are all about here, so there you go. I guess that guy yesterday just really got to me….

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2010 11:12 pm

    I heard that the most famous beggar in Toulouse was actually one of the richest guys in the city, I don’t know how true that is but apparently that’s how he spent his time. Mr Foodie was shocked last year at the amount of professional beggars in Toulouse. We were stopped at a red light andsome started cleaning the windscreen after we gestured no a fair few times. I just put my wipers on, lol. Enough to say they didn’t appreciate it but I will give to whomever I choose to give to, very much like you. Or to an organization that helps them.

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      March 14, 2010 11:38 pm

      There are a lot of people here that do it professionally. And I agree exactly: I would rather give it to organizations who help them. After I posted this just today the old man that I gave money to last week recognized me while walking on the street and asked me point blank for money. I didn’t have any on me at that moment, which I’m glad about because then I didn’t have to lie, but it made me feel strange wondering if I should have given him money in the first place. It still strikes a chord with me, the older people, so I probably will give him money again sometime….I wonder if he is the guy who you are talking about…..!

  2. Julie permalink
    March 14, 2010 3:19 am

    Similar to Foodie Mummy’s story. In one of the biggest cities in Australia (which isn’t that big by European standards), there is an infamous beggar who earns over $50,000 per year. This is about the average Aussie wage, only HIS is tax-free!

    I don’t think you are heartless, though the whole situation does make me very sad. My rule is that I give people food, or buy a train ticket or something, but never give actual money. I like to think I can accommodate a genuine need (e.g. hunger), but I’m not going to feed a drug or alcohol habit. My husband and I also have pre-arranged, monthly giving to organisations that provide for needy people. I know that with the services available through these organisations (homeless shelters etc), there are many resources to help those who really want help.

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      March 14, 2010 11:38 pm

      Totally agree!

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