Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Growing up in the rural Midwest, I didn't have that much experience talking to the homeless* before moving to Seattle. Since moving west, I've been approached for change by people more times than I can count. Why if I had a nickel for every time someone approached me asking fo... never mind. Anyway, there are a number of ways people will ask for money, all with varying degrees of effectiveness at making me feel incredibly guilty that I've avoided eye contact with whoever's talking while fondly remembering the $7 sandwich I just ate (I assume this is the goal of every panhandler). My personal favorite way to be asked for money is the incredibly complex and implausible story. Here are a couple of the ones I've heard:

-I live around the corner and I've locked my keys in my house. I called a locksmith, but he says he needs $15 to open my door and my wallet is inside and he won't start working on the door until he's paid.

-I'm a sailor on a carrier docked in Bremerton and I lost my ferry pass. If I don't get $8.25, the ship is going to sail without me and I'll be kicked out of the navy.

-My wife and I just had a fight. She drove off in the car with my wallet, and I'm several miles from home. Now, I'm happy to walk, but I think it'd be best if I showed up with some flowers for her. Do you know where a florist is, and may I borrow $15 to get a dozen roses?

-Do you know anything about cars? No? Ok, well I'm out of motor oil and I need $2.79 to get a quart so I can get the car fixed and drive my kids home from school.

-Hey, I'm a recovering drug addict and my P.O. is going to test me tomorrow. Unfortunately, I need to get to Spokane by train for the test, otherwise I'm going to jail even though I'm clean. Can I get some money for a train ticket?

-Jason, it's Annie. I left my wallet at work and we need flour and eggs. I can't go back to work because I left my keys at home, and there won't be anyone there to open the door until after the co-op is closed. Can I borrow $20 from you?

*And when I say homeless, I mean people living outdoors. I'm sure Northern Iowa has its fair share of people who have unstable housing situations and are living in their cars or other people's houses, but I don't recal to many people curled up in the doorway of the farm implement dealer. Just wanted to be clear.

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