Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beggars

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people approach me asking for money. I'm sure this is against the law and or it rightfully should be - but a significant amount of people get away with it every day. 

What I don't understand is ....
1. Why do people fall for the schemes? 
2. Why do people give cash money? 
3. Why do people complain after they give? 
4. Why do the beggars get away? 

Today I was in line at the McDonald's drive thru to get a tea. A man approached my vehicle while I was in line- he came up to my drivers side window asking if I had money - telling me how he had run out of gas and needed money to get home. Now ... Of course I told him that I had no money and I pulled forward. When I got to the order screen I saw him approach the woman in the car behind me and she did hand him the money on her hand that she was going to make her purchase with. He continued to only approach vehicles with female drivers. I informed the girl that answered the speaker what was going on - she identified him and the color shirt he was wearing and continued to tell me he had been out there all day and she had been wondering what he'd been doing - 640pm and I was the first to say something... She let management know and they said they were going to take care of it. 

Now ... Could he have been telling the truth? Yes. Could he have called AAA, a tow truck or his insurance company to get gas? Yes. Could he have phoned a friend? Yes. Was he likely lying and scheming to prey on women and make some fast cash? Yes. 

I feel as if people like him give homeless people a bad rap/ or people who really are down and out and need a helping hand. As a society we have become detached and thwarted because we see beggars on the sides of roads or highway ramps - most of the time they try to look grungy but they forget to swap out their nice shoes ... Or their well cleaned teeth or manicured hands - it's hard for the people who need help to receive it when those that don't need it are begging for it and trying to steal it. 

Growing up in a large family with a low income we were the kids who got free or reduced lunch at school. We had food stamps or the link card. The wic program for the babies and public aid for health insurance. But we also lived on it. We took clothes as hand-mi-downs and we didn't take family vacations. We didn't have a house full of electronics or new cars to drive in. We had only what we needed and we were grateful for what we were blessed with. We partook in those programs because we needed them to help is survive. They put food on the table when otherwise we wouldn't eat and allowed us to seek medical attention when otherwise we wouldn't be able to. 

What kills me on the inside is to watch so many people take advantage of the system - begging the government for help that isn't really needed and robbing those people of the help they need because there isn't any funding left - or because there are too many people on the program now the plans are changing and care is being limited. 

I think it's hard for me because I see it from the other side- I see patients walk into eye dr offices - they have public aid and get their free eye exam and glasses and then they take out hundreds of dollars in cash and buy additional pairs of designer glasses - if they can afford the luxuries then they obviously are lying about their income to the government in order to get the financial aid to begin with. 

Ok - enough soap box for one night... 

I guess the big question is - when do you give and when do you not? 

If I'm in the city and someone claiming to be homeless says they are hungry and asks for money - I offer them food - if they decline I deem them not homeless or not honestly hungry. If they are true, homeless, and hungry they will take your offer of food - If they are just looking for alcohol drugs or cash they will deny you and keep going -

I never want to be the one who passes the wounded man - I want to be the Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:25-37) ... It's just hard to decipher when is the right or wrong time to do this. 

When do you cave into a beggar? Or do you ever? 

2 comments:

  1. I caved last night. I normally offer food or something and walk away if they deny it. But this guy was waiting outside of the 7-11 and he genuinely looked sad. He said he needed bus money and was short. I would have given him a buck or two and said have a nice night. But there is that chance he just cooked up a good scheme since it was by jeff park blue line...and it's a busy area. However, I had just taken out 80 bucks in cash that was chillen in my wallet. I didn't want him to snatch my wallet and cards. so I pulled out two singles and went back out after my purchase. I flat out asked what it was for. He wanted a single beer. I said ok buddy and gave him two singles...his face lit up and he ran inside to get a beer. I watched him buy it and walk out. Hope I at least made his day....I sure made him smile. I hope he isn't a homeless guy who is an alcholic :/

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  2. My struggle is supporting the addictions that likely played a role on causing them to be homeless to begin with. Caring for a person and providing basic needs such as food or water I am definitely willing to do and have done before. But yes - I would be careful - especially with a full wallet handing out money to strangers looking for a fix.

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