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Give Us Your Panhandlers, Your Squeegees, Your Homeless Beggars

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I’m feeling harassed by all the beggars and panhandlers in my town. I can’t make it 100 feet without getting hassled by somebody wanting some spare change or subway tickets. If I’d give a quarter every time someone asked me, I’d be broke by the end of the week.

All the archetypes are here: the guy in the wheelchair deformed by some unforgiving disease, the little old lady who just finished taking empty cans out of the garbage, the young punk with thousands of dollars worth of ink on him, the screamer in the subway saying he’s got kids at home to feed and a terminal wife (but she’s been terminal for 10 years now – yes, I remember the beggars), the guy holding the door open for you at the local store holding out his plastic cup and spewing cigarette smoke in your face as you enter, the guy sitting on the ground smelling like a brewing factory with his friendly abandoned dog making you feel guilty for what you are about to do — step into a store or restaurant and spend your money.

Then there’s the guy with obvious mental problems who would probably wrestle me to the floor for change were I not twice his size, the guy huffing glue on the train while everyone else is huddled at the other end of the wagon trying not to get high on the fumes. Most of them smell like they haven’t hit the showers in weeks…it’s the smell, if there is such a thing.

But you see I’m not one of those who think these bums should just get a job. That’s the easy no-need-to-deal-with-the-issue answer. On the contrary, it breaks my heart to see them in this suffering state. I wish I could help them all, but it would ruin me and I’d probably end up like them. It eats at me. I do feel guilty going into Wendy’s when this guy with nothing in his name just asked for spare change. And yes I know that over 85% of the money given to them will end up in a dealer’s pocket within an hour. But still, addicts are sick people. Not to mention all those mentally ill folks. The kids with no future because no one ever raised them to know better – you just can’t give what you’ve never received to begin with. But it all seems all overwhelming.

Sometimes I give them change or buy them a burger on my way out of the restaurant. But I can’t do it all the time, I’m scrapping by myself, sure my situation isn’t as bad as theirs but I’m not racking in the bucks either.

But the amount of times I get polled for spare change in a week is driving me insane (not to mention that someone tries to give me a free city paper at just about every corner or subway exit). But just like them I’m doing everything I can to keep my head above the water, I’m just further up the mountain than they are, but I still have to climb the mountain. I can’t fix the problem and I feel harassed, not by the beggars, but by my guilt for having my life being better than theirs.

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About David Desjardins