Fucking Stop “Helping” People On The Street, Damn You!

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Surely, you must know this “help” you think you are giving beggars on the street does more for you than it does for anyone else.  I am here to expose you all for acting otherwise and making me out to be a bitch, one without empathy or one without sympathy because of my utter disgust for beggars on the street.  There are 2 things that are exhausting me to no end:

  1.  I’m tired of seeing people give money, spare change, and/or food to people who are sitting on the street asking for it because they have “fell on tough times.”
  2. I am tired of the motherfuckers who bring these people into a food establishment and when they get to the counter they order what they are having and then they say, “… and he would like to have …,” “… cause this is my good deed for the day,” or if they decide to leave the beggar outside they feel compelled to say things like, “Uh, the guy outside?  Do you know what he drinks?  I’m going to get him something,” or “… and can I have a small coffee for the guy outside,” as if the person taking the order cares about who wants what or what you are doing with the food you are purchasing.

Surely you must know the person behind the counter could care less about what the person standing next to you wants be it a friend, a kid, or a senior citizen.  9 times out of 10, if you are standing next to a beggar that you are treating, *I promise you* not only does the person taking the order not care about what you are specifically treating them to, they are pissed that you even bought them in.  No one thinks you are a good person, no one thinks you are caring, everyone behind the counter thinks you are dumb and they are going to talk about you as soon as you walk out with your new best friend.  If your good deed for the day is you bringing a trespasser into an establishment and then rewarding them then I think you should aim higher.

A Little Background

When I was a kid, I remember not understanding what my grandmother was saying when she would advise me against giving money to people on the street.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t be mean like that.  When I became a teenager and started making my own money, I’d always give money to panhandlers and beggars and then when I was about 19, a woman told me she was hungry and she needed money to buy food.  I offered her a small dinner from the Spanish restaurant I was on my way into and after trying to get my money, she declined.  I vowed to never give cash away again or at least use my discretion.  Then there came a time when I wasn’t even in a position to think about helping someone who’d “fallen on tough times” for I was literally one couch away from being in the same situation.  Now, 30 years later, I argue on a day to day basis with beggars on the street – don’t even ask me for money.  I actually get offended.

I have been side-eyeing beggars on the street for a very long time.  As a matter of fact, you could ask my best friend Nisaa.  She knows how to sing.  I used to beg her to ride the trains with me so I could use her voice to panhandle.  In my early 20s, I thought panhandling was the best hustle ever.  I used to crunch a lot of numbers trying to figure out how much panhandlers made in a day and I was convinced they were totally winning.  Not too long after I gave up begging Nisaa to join me in a panhandling campaign, a story came out about a woman who’d been panhandling on 5th avenue for years living in an up and coming neighborhood in east Harlem – a brownstone at that!  I am going to try and find that article for you all and just know about a month before that I wanted nothing more than to become a panhandler. 

So … a few years ago, I had a breakdown and my simple dislike for beggars on the street turned into something far worse.  2014 was a rough year for me financially and I mean rough!!!  I worked at a sneaker store on a popular strip and off to the side of the store used to sit this dirty guy named Mark.  Everyday, he’d sit there and greet the passerby’s with a smile and a hello before asking for spare change, a cigarette, or something to eat.  On my first day, he asked me for money and I said no.  He asked if I could spare him a cigarette and I said, “Sure!”  When I came to work and saw him again, he asked if he could have a cigarette, and you know what I said?  I said, “Fifty cents.” 

I’d watch him out the window while I worked.  My stomach would be growling and people would be walking up and handing him lunch platters.  I was on tough times for real in 2014.  I smoke a pack a day, still, because I am so nervous that my financial situation will go back to what it was in 2014; always afraid that I am going to mess up and everything I built for myself is going to crumble.  I would have loved for a strangers to treat me to my meals every single day, 3x a day, including snacks.  I would have been so appreciative if strangers would just hand me their spare change. 

I work on average 14 hours a day and I live paycheck to paycheck.  A few weeks ago, I messed up my back and was out of both of my jobs for 2 days and my quality of life took a dip AND my poor mom had to buy my medicine.  I’ve worked 7 days a week for 11 months without taking any personal days off and most often I work 6 days a week.  NO STRANGER HAS EVER FELT COMPELLED TO GIVE ME ANYTHING.  For some reason, people think there is glory in “helping” people who refuse to do shit the right way or those who refuse to help themselves. 

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First of all, let’s get this straight:  Let’s look at The Homeless Community as an umbrella.  Under that umbrella, you have the people who are homeless for circumstances beyond their control and they live in shelters and then you have the people who live on the street.  The people who are residing in shelters are the ones who need the most help.  There are 2 ways you can help the homeless community that lives in the shelter:

  1. You can donate to a charity or non-profit organization affiliated with the shelter.
  2. You can donate your time to a soup kitchen, or if you have a skill perhaps you can liaison with the program directer to see if you can instruct a job-readiness or life improvement class of some sort.

There is no help for people on the street, but if you would be remiss to not do anything at all, here are the most effective things you can do:

  1. Stop giving them money and buying them food, instead offer them a job or a task.
  2. Explain to them that it is unacceptable to sit on the streets or walk the streets everyday, all day asking people for money having done nothing to earn or deserve it.
  3.  Give them resources.  Direct them to the nearest shelter or food pantry.

When I express my dislike for beggars on the street, people always come at me sideways.  They say things like, “You never know when that will happen to you,” or “You may find yourself on the streets one day,” and my favorite and most popular, “You never know what people are going through.”  I’ve had people count me as being one of the most generous and kind-hearted people they know and when we arrive at the conversation of how I treat beggars on the street, all of a sudden they can’t believe my attitude or how mean I can be.  When in fact, I am looking at them like they are dumb.  Why would you give money to someone who sits on the streets all day asking people for money?  That is not a job.  They didn’t do anything for you.  If you walk the same block tomorrow, they will be sitting there again and they will ask you for money again.  If you were to walk down that block every single day or if you were to walk that area every single day, you would see them every single day and every single day they would ask you for money until you have been trained to just give it to them or give an explanation as to why you don’t have change for them on that day.  So now, every time you pass that beggar you give them 50 cents?  A quarter?  So now, every week, a beggar is going to pump you for over $2.  That is $8 and there are at least 14 other people who do the same thing you are doing.  That alone is $128 a month, tax free and my metrics are low – I am under estimating.

I had to really analyze why I was so hostile towards beggars on the street and I came to the conclusion that I am a super hater when it comes to them.  Here’s why:

As I mentioned, life hasn’t been the easiest for me.  I came out of childhood without ever having the value of a dollar instilled in me and as an adult, I handle money like a high school kid.  For most of the year, when I am living pay check to pay check, I really didn’t have to be living like that.  However, because I have poor money management skills, whatever it says I am making on paper is just that … it has never translated into a lifestyle. 

When I threw my back out last month, for most of the month, I was riddled with anxiety.  My electricity bill was past due, my wifi bill was so passed due that whenever I paid it, they would still send past due notices, and rent was approaching and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to cover the entire balance.  My cell phone bill was coming, I needed some meats from the supermarket, and to do all of my laundry.  There is never a day that I am not thinking about a bill or how something is going to be taken care of.  There is never a day that I don’t need something I do not have … meaning, I always have something I need.  Some days I pass a person sitting on the street with a sign asking for money talking about they “fell on tough times” and I think to myself how “easy” their life is. 

Notice how I’ve put quotation marks around easy because you and I both know that living on the streets isn’t easy as easy is defined, but *I promise you* their life is most certainly, “EASY.”  For one, they don’t have to worry about bills, they don’t have to worry about keeping a roof over their head, and they don’t have to worry about hygiene.  Thank to all of you pathetics who are calling yourselves being “helpful” when really you don’t want to really help they don’t have to worry about getting a job, they don’t have to worry about getting food, and they don’t have to worry about getting cigarettes.  If they are a drug abuser, they don’t have to worry about that either.

I think it would be hella nice to write a sign and sit on the street asking for everything that I need.  I would love for people to ENABLE me to continue to do nothing with my life at the expense of strangers and tax payers.  I would love to wake up, under the sky to coffee and a bag of breakfast someone left by my pallet because they felt bad for me.  I would fucking love that.  I would love to get a crate and sit by a train station with my beautiful sign (cause I have really nice handwriting) and a plastic cup so people could drop money into it while I stare at the ground.

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… and that staring at the ground business is the lowest of all.  These people don’t even have the decency to look at you in the eye.  They make their sign and then they look at the ground.  They don’t make the sign and look you in the eye.  When you drop money into that cup, they aren’t even looking at you.  As a a matter of fact, in the picture above, the guy isn’t even looking down, he is dipping which is what dope users do when they are high.  The guy is nodding off.  I stood their for a while to get that shot because I didn’t want him to look up and catch me, but then I noticed he was rocking and leaning.  Dummy was nodding off … but you know what?  The bottom of his cup was full of pocket change.  Why the fuck would you give money to a stranger who isn’t even looking at you.  The only logical answer to that is you weren’t giving them money for them but it made you feel good to drop the money in the cup.  If you want to feel good about something, it should have some kind of real worth.  You should really try to make a real contribution.  Giving money to beggars on the street, as I mentioned, does everything for you (no matter how dumb that is) and hurts tax payer dollars and the beggar you are enabling.

I’m just saying.  Stop giving money to people on the streets, instead, donate that money to a charity that works for the homeless people.  If the trend goes in the direction of people giving to shelters instead of people on the street, then the people on the street will go to the shelters.  People on the street go where the money is and the least responsibility.  When you live in the shelter, you have to have a level of responsibility that people on the street aren’t willing to have.  They tell you stories about the conditions of the shelter system without realizing them begging on the street is the reason the shelter system is so bad.  If everyone who gives money to beggars on the street donates their money to the cause, the shelter system will change.  There is no way it could stay the same.  They would be able to house more people, money would be filtered into other programs and resources, they would be in a better position to get more money from the federal government and more donations from personal donors.

No, but if you want to keep feeling good about yourself for making shit worse, then knock yourself out.  If you want to feel good about yourself for taking care of someone who refuses to do anything for their own self, so be it.  My only request is that you stop acting like it’s for them and admit that it’s for you.  Don’t tell anyone that you fed or gave money to a person on the street, do not bring their dirty ass to any counter to engage the counter person in your fake good deed for the day.  When you do something for your own personal edification (which is what you are doing when you enable someone) no one has to know and if it is done effectively, no one is supposed to know.  The minute you include someone in this fake help you’re shelling out, you’ve already lost whatever blessings, good karma, or glory you were after which is by far the worse of all because now not only did you really not help, your actions were totally fruitless on a universal level the minute you go out of your way to be validated for your deeds.

If you want to read more about that panhandling lady I mentioned earlier, I was able to find the article.  You can check it out, HERE.

 

 

 

 

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