It's Learned Behavior...

I think I'm starting to figure hobos out. A while back I got used to the normal scams, like the old "My car broke down, I need some gas" bit at the station. But after getting asked for my Metro ticket after I got off the train today, I realized that several things make the chance of me getting asked for dollar skyrocket or tumble.

1. Glasses. The logic must go like this. Every person with glasses must know, deep in their heart, some form of rejection by society. Even if it's a fleeting fourth grade yell of "FOUR EYES!" So, obviously, when I wear glasses I look like I can identify. That or I spend too much time looking at a computer, which makes my eyes go bad, and I have to put on glasses to count all my money. Good theory, but glasses are now for cheapasses like me who don't want to buy contacts at their ridiculous prices.

2. Cell Phone. This one is more of an off the beaten path move. The logic is, if I'm carrying a cell phone, interrupting my call results in annoyance, which makes me just want to get rid of a hobo with a buck. It's like a cell phone tax. That, or they know I'm talking to a girl on the phone and of course girls are going to swoon when I throw money around like Uncle Pennybags.

3. Sign Language Shirt. I picked this up at unique thrift awhile back and let me say it comes in handy. Not just because I'll be at a bar and some stranger will start gesturing at me like they're flashing gang signs. Then I'll realize they're signing "HELLO," thinking I'm deaf. Then I have to break it to them, no I can hear, I just like the shirt and try to raise awareness. Lately I've been thinking if a bum comes up to me, I'm going to play deaf. But then again, that's what I always do.

4. B.O. This one is obvious, but I thought I would include it. If I'm already on the train, however, no one can tell because I'm just some more stink lines in a closed space with already too many stink lines.

5. Cassidy (or another person). This happens a lot, really good panhandlers know that if they approach a group, they can play on collective guilt. For example, I saw some 6'-plus lady in a giant cape and black hat talking to a couple women. One was handing over a $5. I thought to myself, of course she's not going to admit to her friend that she doesn't ever give to charity. The way I see it, the lady in the cape was helping the other girl sleep at night for a mere $5. Like a drug company!

Now, I know some of you are thinking "What an asshole, I always give them money." Ok, well that's fine and all but I'm not a fan of cash money. Oftentimes people have drug or alcohol problems, and there are places here that'll take them in and give them whatever they need, not just money but job assistance, rehab, etc. In my nonprofit class, we talked about Larry Rice and how many poor people don't want to pay the price of going to church. Ok, that's fine, but there are other places too, like the Salvation Army and the St. Patrick Center. If you do help them with money, I'm not condemning it, but really, sometimes people need other things just as badly.


online short films said...

Where "glasses" and "cell phone" are concerned, you forgot to mention the obvious--you need money to have these things, so clearly you're the dude to ask. Not just any hobo can afford glasses, and I myself get paid rather well, considering what I do, yet still cannot, to myself, justify the expense of a cell phone. So, Richie Rich, with your fancy glasses and mobile telephone device, throw me a bone here!

Personally I try to dodge panhandlers as much as possible. I rarely give anymore. Call me what you will, but above all, call me frugal. Or a tightwad...cuz that's what I am, brah.

cassidy said...

well, brah, what you are unaware of is that many hobos can tell by looking at drew that he is a nice little catholic boy who loves his mother and would help a little old lady cross the street. The amount of loose change he has lying around is enough to feed a small nation. Regardless, he knows that you can either give a man a dime or teach him to make a million dimes. Either way, we all know money grows on trees and there is no such thing as a free lunch. unless you get a coupon that redeems a FREE lunch.

moohappy said...

(This is Mo, LWinchester's old roomie :-))
Hamburglar. Mmmm.
I'm interning in NYC right now and it's amazing how many hobos turn things down if they don't get what they want. They'll hold up a cardboard sign that says, "I'm starving, please help me." And then I offer them the banana in my purse (it's fresh! it's delicious! it's nutritious!) - I've had several hobos decline my gifts because I'm not giving them money.
I have a sneaking suspicion that they're declining because I'm essentially not giving them booze. Or drugs. Because they look pretty messed anyway.
But hey... at least now we know that the old maxim is no longer true... beggars CAN be choosers. And they are sometimes.

Drew said...

man, rob, i can't believe you don't have a cell phone. i thought it was a pre-req for being a director! haha, seriously though, sorry i couldn't make it out on thurs, it was an up and down week and i needed a night to relax. let me know when the next shindig is, though. i'll have to stroll over there and check it out.

cassidy- like a coupon that gets you free into a pool after you dislocate a shoulder at the pool 10 min after showing up?? haaa

mo- thanks for commenting! that's so cool that you're in nyc, cassidy and i are hitting the town up august 8-13, i don't know if you're around then, but if you are we should meet up! and we can offer hobos bananas and say they're magic crack bananas that make you crap out change like a slot machine haha

Rachel said...

homeless people are everywhere in san diego, and i always wonder what their stories are. i'm amazed by how many veterans ask for money, and by how many of the homeless men and women are mentally unstable. how do you know who really needs help and who is simply scamming you? i never know if i should give them cash or not. does giving them money actually help them or is it perpetuating the situation? obviously many of them desperately need help, but is giving them a few dollars the best we can do for them?

1. i like the guys that stand in the drive through at fast food restaurants and point to the double bacon cheeseburger on the dollar menu. they love to tell you about jesus.

2. when i lived in ocean beach, there was a man with only one leg who hobbled around on crutches in the grassy median. twice i saw people throw a handful of change at him and laugh as he scrambled around trying to pick it up without falling.

3. again in ocean beach, two teenage punk rockers were sitting on the sidewalk with a sign that read "parents killed by ninjas - need money for kung fu lessons." of course i gave them money.

Drew said...

rachel- yeah i agree, throwing money at anything doesn't solve problems. giving people jobs/education is the way to go.

although, about the ninjas, i think if somebody's making you laugh, hobo or not, they deserve a dollar for the joke haha