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There are beggars everywhere in NYC.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not hatin on beggars and I understand how hard it is for bums to get a job.  I am just annoyed that every time I get asked for change, I glance into their eyes and its game over man.

The paradox of being a bum is that they get lonely because people refuse to acknowledge their existence, but at the same time, the people who meet their desperate gaze or stops to listen end up being harassed for donations.  If you do give money, you are worsened off economically and you end up having mixed feelings because you could potentially be sponsoring an existing drug habit.  If you don’t give them money and you ignore them, you feel guilty for being a terrible person.  No matter the outcome of this encounter, Pareto optimality cannot be achieved.

honest_bum

I thought I had the perfect solution…until tonight.  I was waiting to buy a train ticket at Penn Station when a bum comes up to me and says:

“Excuse me, can I have 50 cents?”

So being the clever guy that I am, I countered with:

“Um NO, can I have 50 cents?”

He then opens his palm to reveal roughly $1.36 in change and takes out 2 quarters and places them in my hand.

My heart just melts.  I give him back his change and give him a dollar.  You win this round bum.

I guess its back to the old avoiding eye contact and shamefully staring straight ahead into space until I can think of something better.

any suggestions?

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2 Comments

  1. Oh he got you good. You should have given him more.

  2. Street-people.com has commenced their search for the 2009 Street Person of the Year. The annual award highlights those special individuals who have made a mark on society, often on the sides of buildings with urine, as the most unique Street People in their region. The award does not recognize the shiftless, unwashed street person but one that has broken the boundaries of conventional society. They may live in a bush in a public park, a broken down car, or in the pump room of a church (all real locations Street-people.com has found past candidates) but they live by their own rules creating an existence by hustling lunch from social service programs, asking for change, and trading scraps found in dumpsters for money.

    The Award is presented by Street-people.com a website that claims to share true tales of the street about panhandlers, hustlers, and bums without the urine smell. The award highlights the most outrageous story told by a street person to try and hustle change, a free meal or a cigarette. The annual competition is stiff as the 2007 winner Anthony Michael Jackson claimed to be the heir to a Chinese toy manufacturing fortune but was kidnapped by Bill Cosby and Hulk Hogan. The pair robbed him and left him stranded on the streets of Memphis, TN. Anthony Michael Jackson hustled free food from restaurants and a place to stay in a storage container on a construction site while he waited to see if his sister would let him move in with her. His sister had to ask her room mate Diana Ross if it was ok.

    Street-people.com accepts that the award is in bad taste but nominations for award come from “office workers who are harassed everyday as they go to work by panhandlers” commented the media coordinator for the site. “If you have a vagrant that sleeps on your stoop, a hobo that haunts the grove of trees on your street, or a panhandler who has been working your office complex nominate them for this prestigious award.” The website hopes to raise awareness that handing a street person change may not actually be helping them.

    Submissions are accepted by email. “All we ask is for people to share the tale of their encounter with a street person” added the media coordinator. “It will not make them go away, smell better or stop asking you for change but it will make your afternoon in the office go by quicker as you share the website with your co-workers.” Nominations can be made by emailing your story to streetpeople@gmail.com. The person who nominates the winning street person receives one of website’s signatures “Need Money for Beer” t-shirts


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