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Everything King: A panhandling predicament

Should I help? Should I feel bad? Am I overthinking this?
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panhandler poverty stock

Something weird happened the other day. 

I have wrestled with it trying to decide if I did the right thing or the wrong thing or if I should have just minded my own business. (that’s usually the best idea!)

I was with friends at a coffee shop and there was a panhandler going table to table asking for money. 

I just watched for quite a while and noticed he never approached men just women. 

I also noticed the women, as women do, were friendly and kind and engaged with the man and usually gave him some change.

In a couple of cases, he hugged them.  In every case, I could tell the ladies felt uncomfortable and either left or uncomfortably shifted in their seats.

So, when I went to get a coffee refill, I just mentioned that the customer seemed to be bothering some of the ladies and asking for money and maybe they could ask him to sit down. 

Next thing I know, there are three police officers there and the guy is being handcuffed and put in a cruiser.  When they took his bicycle and put it in the trunk, I nearly cried. 

I felt terrible.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the poor guy.  My intention was just to get the store management to be aware and just rein him in a bit not to get him arrested. 

I realize the police likely know him and his situation.  I know they are trained in how to deal with people in different scenarios. They were very kind to him doing a lot of talking with him but still I felt like a creep.

The question is always will my couple of bucks help the person or am I just feeding a bigger problem?

Are those people with the signs on the freeway ramps legitimate or do they work in shifts and have a Mercedes stashed nearby while they beg for our cash?  

I pass them and feel horrible.  I give something and feel like I am a chump. It is always an internal struggle.  I feel bad if I make eye contact and I feel bad if I don’t. 

Some people say they are just con artists who make it a full-time job to panhandle.

How can you possibly know? 

The thought of being so desperate that you stand on the street with a cardboard sign declaring “I’m hungry” makes me heartsick. 

Would anyone actually choose to do that? How low would you have to be? How far are any of us from being in financial crises?

I wish no one had to do it for whatever reason.

The night of my donut shop incident was cold and snowy so I hope the man got a hot meal and a dry, warm bed for the night.  I fear that is just what I want to believe so I don’t feel like such a mean person.

He never even saw me that night but I definitely saw him and won’t soon forget.