August 20, 2009

An unwelcome new trend

Have you noticed this trend recently? Young people, yes I said young people, loitering in parking lots and outside fast food establishments and grocery stores begging money. Always with the heart-wrenching story of being stranded and just needing a buck for bus fare. Akin to the intersection beggars with the cardboard signs, but a little more unsettling. At least the intersection beggars aren't talking to you directly.

Within the last month, I bet I've been approached at least a handful of times. This is new for me, and I find this trend disturbing. I remember when I was in junior high school, fellow students would try to bum a quarter off of you just to buy a bag of Doritos or some candy. This begging in parking lots seems a little more extreme than that. It has been young men and woman, some dirty and homeless appearing, some not, but all are pretty believable.

Yesterday it was two young guys outside of the Taco Time asking for a buck for the bus. When we mentioned it to the employee inside the restaurant, he was surprised and said that they had just come in to exchange a fistful of dollar bills for a $10 bill. Hmmmm. This bugs me.

Today, as we were coming out of the Borders bookstore, we were approached by a young man who was very upset. His story was that his wife had kicked him out of the car and he was stranded. Rubbing his head like he was hurt, he asked for money for the bus. Upon my refusal, he quickly exited the parking lot and disappeared between buildings. As we were driving out, in drove a Sheriff. I then noticed a couple of other vehicles hanging around; I wonder if someone called to report the panhandler. I suspect so.

Is this behavior illegal? I know the retail establishments do not like it, as it discourages business. These young people are very good actors, and I'm assuming they get quite a bit of money; similar story with the intersection beggars or else they would not stand in the rain begging, I think. I just wish they wouldn't do it.

I always take the same stand, especially with young people; if you are strong and healthy enough to beg in a parking lot, you are strong and healthy enough to work. Even being a sign-jockey on the side of the busy street is more respectable than begging, in my view. I never give money - I usually don't have cash, anyway. Besides, it always seems stupid for a woman to open her bag to fish out some money in front of someone like that. It's just not safe; they could snatch your bag, or hit you over the head and then snatch your bag, while you were distracted. I have had them call me dirty names as I'm walking to my car after a refusal, as well. Nice.

Yeah, I don't like this trend. I don't like young people lying and begging. I don't like it that they get money for doing so. I don't like it that they prefer to do that instead of earning money in a respectable way.

Perhaps they are desperate and can't get a job. OK, I'm willing to consider that, but I really think they are just looking for drug money, to be honest.
“Charity does not mean that the land should be full of beggars. We can provide some support and means for the beggars, but provide food, clothing and other conveniences in such a way that you are not encouraging laziness and begging.”
~Sri Sathya Sai Baba

7 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

I could not agree more, my friend. I'm shocked at the apparent lack of self respect - I'd be so ashamed to even think of doing such a thing.

Compassion is important, but given where it's warranted.

Mama Cache said...

So sorry, my friend, that you had to deal with this. Very unsettling.

Anonymous said...

We have talked to some of these people who do this in NY City. It turns out that this is how they choose to make their living earning 40K+ a year - tax free. It is very sad and takes away from those who really do need the help.

3 Blind Mice~

Kaaren said...

I have yet to run into young people doing this. I did get harrassed by an extremly drunk, middle-aged, barefoot lady trying to sell me a palm-frond flower in the parking lot of Target. Also, as I was pumping gas, I got asked for gas $$ by the guy on the other side of the pump. *sigh*

J Antonelli said...

I have a problem with believing everything someone tells me. I'm an aspie after all...aren't all people telling the truth?!

AJ said...

When in doubt, I fall back to an old biblical concept... Matthew 10:42... (ok, it isn't Torah) - and I do what I can to give them a cold bottled water.

I usually get a smile and a word of thanks... and no further queries.

-AJ

Anonymous said...

The last time I gave money to someone like this, I watched him walk over to the other side of the parking lot and buy drugs. When he saw me watching, he just smirked at me. So much for money he needed for gas to pick up his kid from school. I no longer give money to people who approach me in parking lots and I tell them why! I do, however offer them some of the food I just bought. In one case, where the lady had a baby with her I went back inside and bought her some baby food and diapers. She was grateful, but most just walk away when I offer them food instead of money.
Wild Rose