Knowing is Half the Prattle.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Typical NYC Pan Handler Story

People have told me that when I ignore pan handlers I'm being cold hearted. Here's the reason why I don't give money to anyone on the street anymore, no matter how they look or how pathetic their sob story.

About an hour ago, I was standing in line at Mc Donalds. I almost never go there, but hey, sometimes you want a small fries. I notice two guys standing in line in front of me. One fairly well dressed with a bluetooth phone Borg attachment in his ear and another guy, in dirty basic clothing. Overhearing the conversation, I find out that the shabby guy is "homeless" (pictured above). He's in line with the well dressed guy because the well dressed guy agreed to buy him a meal. The "homeless guy" has dirty hands, fingernails etc. but he has on brand new sneakers. He explains that some other do-gooder just bought him the sneakers. They have a discussion about what the "homeless guy" is going to have to eat. They first decide on a chicken sandwich and fries. Then on two chicken sandwiches and fries. Then on three chicken sandwiches and fries. The well dressed guy says he's getting hungry from the thought of all this food (har de har). The well dressed guy is not ordering anything for himself, since he's on his way to dinner. After the order has been placed and paid for, the well dressed guy leaves to go to dinner. The "homeless guy" is waiting at the counter for his food. He watches the other guy walk out the door, he makes sure the coast is clear, pulls out his cell phone and starts checking his messages. He gets his food, and walks out the door. By this time I have my small fries and I follow the action outside. The "homeless guy" walks to the corner, tosses the food in the garbage, sits down on the street and then begins yelling. "Can anyone spare me some change? Just a penny. I need to get something to eat".

So why did he get the guy to buy him 3 chicken sandwiches and then throw them all out? I think he was trying for the big score. He was trying to figure out how to get the guy to break a larger bill like a $20 and then let him keep the change. To little food and you get to much change so the guy will take it. To much food and either the guy won't go for it or he won't get much change at all. That's why he was feeling him out. Will he go for two sandwiches? Will he go for three?

I've seen variations on this scene dozens of times. I even have favorite homeless people and sob stories.

There is one guy that I see once in a while that always "just had his bag stolen from a bar with his laptop and all his money inside and he just needs a few dollars to get home". He'll even give you his business card so he can pay you back.

There is the woman who I used to see every Wednesday night on the 6 train at Astor Place who "was just robbed". Holy Crap! You get robbed every Wednesday night at around 7:30 in the same place? Its time to change your schedule.

I usually don't even acknowlege people on the street who try to get my attention anymore. For pan handlers who are persistent, I recommend you yell ... "Hey! You're that guy!"

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