Feeding The Habit
Working at a job in the city is much different from working at one in the suburbs. In the city you most likely have to pay for parking or pay to get there by bus. Either way, you’re shelling out more for transportation than you would normally working in the suburbs. You also meet all walks of life in the city, ranging from complete lunatics to corporate CEOs that would sooner step on you than be late for his or her tee time.
If you work in the city, chances are you’ve run into some of the above.
I work in the city of Pittsburgh. Before someone shouts, “Go Steelers!”, you can stop right there because unlike ninety-nine percent of the people here, I don’t get my kicks watching men slap each other on the ass after tackling each other over brown, oval ball. That’s a rant of a completely different nature, one I will reserve for a future blog post.
No, no, what I’m talking about is my problem with the people who approach you and ask for money, or hold up signs asking for money. I know what you’re going to say and before you get all Hulk Smash in my face, sit down like a good little panda and hear me out.
Over the past two months I’ve taken the same route home from work. Every single time I see a guy between the highway and the on-ramp and every single time I find something wrong with his approach. One day he was holding up a sign saying that he needed money…while puffing on a cigarette. I’m sorry, but if you have money to feed a cigarette habit, then you don’t need my money. A week later he had a different sign up saying that he was traveling and needed money to get somewhere. He used this sign for two weeks. If he truly was in the middle of traveling, where exactly was he staying? He changed it up after that and went back to needing money, I guess he decided he hated traveling. Wouldn’t want those hundred-dollar Tommy Hilfiger jeans he had on to get all wrinkled sitting on a Greyhound bus for hours on end now would we?
Soup Kitchens: Nothing says I’m starving more than taking a picture of someone with a Blackberry while waiting in line.
You know what? Despite everything that I notice that is a clear sign of “I’m just too lazy to work”, people STILL give him money. I’ve witnessed it multiple times and every single time I start cursing at my steering wheel. Are people that ignorant or blind that they can’t draw conclusions based on what is blatantly obvious?
He once had the audacity to start walking up to car windows when traffic had slowed to a standstill. This was during the two weeks he sported the traveling sign. When he approached my car I kept my window up and he gave me a look like I was the bad guy. I couldn’t resist, I cracked the window and asked where he was traveling to. Pro-tip: when someone hesitates for longer than a full five seconds before responding, they are thinking of the best answer and more than likely it isn’t truthful. I guess no one had ever bothered to ask him that question.
Some people are a little too aggressive when asking for help.
I don’t believe in giving money to people I don’t know in general. When you’ve got a full-time job and a family to provide for, every cent counts, especially in today’s economy. A donation to the Red Cross or Salvation Army is fine, but I refuse to believe that your “need money for food” sign is genuine when your beer belly is hanging out of your shirt. You have no idea what they are going to do with that money. If they genuinely are down on their luck, it’s possible they are that way because of bad decision-making with their own finances. All you’re doing is feeding whatever habit put them into the poorhouse in the first place. There are programs out there to help people with financial problems (Welfare, CHIP, Food Stamps, etc) but you have to be motivated enough to get off your behind to apply for them. Standing outside for months with signs isn’t going to pay your bills or solve your problems.
Would you call building an exhaust port that leads straight to the core of a giant battle station a poor decision? Ummm…Yeah.
I’m not so ignorant as to believe that there aren’t real people out there with real genuine problems. If you are observant however, you can tell which ones are faking it and should be avoided. Growing up I worked two jobs or went to school while working to take care of my obligations. There are single moms that I know that work three jobs just to make ends meet. It just irks me that people who genuinely need help don’t receive it and those that don’t but know how to milk the system do.
Donate clothes to your local Goodwill, drop change in the Salvation Army box, help the Make-A-Wish Foundation…at least you’ll know that what you’re giving has a good chance of being used by someone who actually needs it.