War over panhandler erupts on Jamaica Plain telephone pole

Flier that asks people to stop giving Boylston Street panhandler money

This morning, the sort of people who trek down Boylston Street in Jamaica Plain to City Feed were greeted by a flier about a homeless regular on the street, McCallister Crowley reports.

But some of those people objected to the sentiments. This afternoon, he reports, there were a couple of replies to the original flier:

Replies to the panhandler message

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    Comments

    This is so JP, so bikes vs

    By on

    This is so JP, so bikes vs cars, so great white guilt, so taking pictures of random buildings and being yelled at by security guards and complaining about it, so pillow fights on the common, so bitching about cops, so compassionate hipster, so UHub.

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    Thank god for strange, weird,

    Thank god for strange, weird, stupid, funny, old timers and new comers, happy, caring, queer, homeless or homeful, mean, biking, Casey overpass, crazy, backyard chicken raising, boozing, smart, Wholefoods vs. Hi-Lo, hipster, space-saving, quirky JP. Do whatever the fuck you want with your money.

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    I think I have bumped into him before

    By on

    If it's the homeless person I am thinking of, he has been known to panhandle in the the CVS as well as steal mouthwash, I was in there one day and the manager who was helping me excused himself for a moment and went up to the homeless person who entered the store and threaten to call the police.

    He would get pist off if you tires to give him something other then money, like food or coffe

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    Buy the guy lunch but give

    By on

    Buy the guy lunch but give the money to pine street inn or a homeless program.

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    Only problem is, 90% of the

    By on

    Only problem is, 90% of the time you buy a panhandler lunch they just get mad at you, because they don't actually want food.

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    Homeless people need more

    By on

    Homeless people need more than just food. Clothes, transportation, medicine, etc

    And maybe they want to buy their own food,so they can sit somewhere comfortably, and away from the elements.

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    Not always true.

    The ones around the Leather District mostly want to buy drugs. Anything they can get their hands on to get a high. The Pine Street Inn has a very nice place indoors and away from the elements. The food isn't too bad at all either. I know this from years of volunteering at the shelter.

    Not only does the Pine Street Inn offer free food and a place to stay, they also have clothing, and can offer rides with their van. The meds I'm not so sure about.
    http://www.pinestreetinn.org/our_programs/street_outreach

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    I'm an asshole.. or been called one before

    By on

    I've been called mean or an asshole or whatever because I won't give change to the homeless. I've lived too long in the city to know better.

    But..

    My former employer was a human service company. WE RAN HOMES, SHELTERS, AND CLUB HOUSES for homeless people. There's a TON of help out there. Our programs offered clothing, food, shelter, medical care, and many other services all for free. (and of course be referred to our program(s) by the state). And yes your tax dollars help to pay for these programs!

    I just have a hard time giving money to homeless when I know there's help avaliable. Look if you're unwilling to help yourself, I'm not going to help you with my money. I'm sorry if you are out there begging every day for THREE YEARS, you don't want help, you want a handout.

    I understand many homeless don't want to go to a shelter for various reasons, but seriously how long do you have to sleep over an grate to stay warm or shoplift bags of chips until you're willing to put whatever is preventing you from getting help aside? (and yes some of this is a mental health issue, but again why aren't these people accessing DPH services for this?!?)

    Remember..."Give a man a fish and he eats for today, teach a man to fish and he eats for a life time"

    This rings true every time.

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    Mean spirited ...

    By on


    This reminds me of the nastiness about benches in front of the L'il Peach/Tedeschi's at the Monument. (For the newly arrived in JP, that is the Civil War monument at the intersection of Centre & South Streets.) Benches were installed there, ugliness erupted. People getting off the bus to go home after work were repelled by the vagrants sitting on the benches. They petitioned to have the aforementioned benches taken back out, that's how distressing they found the homeless men & women's presence. What a drag. Studies have shown that for many Americans it is often only one or two pay checks between housing & no housing. Recently, this has become more & more common. Further, there are many reasons that people do not avail themselves of ' ...HOMES, SHELTERS, AND CLUB HOUSES for homeless people. There's a TON of help out there. Our programs offered clothing, food, shelter, medical care, and many other services all for free. (and of course be referred to our program(s) by the state).' This sounds like a nice little package but not so appealing to someone who is already severely alienated by the system purportedly designed to help. Throw in a few little psychological disorders & it ain't happening. If you don't wish to give money to people asking for it, knock yourself out & walk on by. But organizing an action against such an unfortunate, particularly when his history is unknown, (as it should be,) is grossly unfair & potentially irreparably damaging. Nice going.

    90% of the time....?

    By on

    you must be hanging out with the wrong panhandlers, or don't know what you are talking about. Most folks (90%?) are grateful even for a little conversation...

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    Oh definitely

    ... and with a huge trust fund.

    There is a homelessness affordability problem too.

    The different pole posters are like the right/left conflict in miniature.

    The right likes to wear personal responsibility and conscientiousness on its sleeve but it is only for self serving situations as a rule.

    The left likes to wear tolerance on its sleeve but is often only tolerant if you agree with them.

    But they are actually better at conscientiousness in many situations. It just doesn't occur to them to brandish it. It's a saving grace.

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    He's not homeless

    By on

    I can only speculate which person the sign is complaining about, but my best guess is someone who is not actually homeless and even has a name. He's not an "aggressive" panhandler. If you had talked to him 3 years ago, you could have saved yourself a lot of annoyance and gotten to know someone who lives in the neighborhood (albeit on the other side of Amory street [yuck]). If you want to post a sign - post a sign about the expired milk City Feed tries to sell on Boylston Street. That's more of an annoyance when your last gallon is gone.

    PS. He doesn't want coffee or food because he uses his money to buy alcohol, which he is also honest about if you talk to him (but yes, strictly speaking he shouldn't get mad when he asks for money to eat and people try to give him something to eat).

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    this.

    By on

    person is being passive-aggressive by leaving note, and then wants everyone else to be passive-aggressive by attempting to persuade us to marginalize a member of our community (by ignoring their existence).

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    Many of these "regular job" folks aren't homeless

    I talked to the guy who hangs around outside my workplace building, on a nasty day when he decided to decamp to Starbucks and I bought him a cup of coffee.

    Like many folks on Social Security Disability, he has trouble making ends meet on $13,000 a year, even with Section 8 housing. He thus panhandles because it works for him and it also keeps him in contact with a lot of people on a daily basis (poverty can be isolating) and that helps him stay alive.

    All the same, nobody makes you give to panhandlers. If a panhandler is aggressive, well, that's a separate problem. Otherwise, just say "hi" and smile, and know that your neighborhood has a pair of eyes and ears monitoring the area and making those who would break into houses move along.

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    Really?

    By on

    $13,000 is not enough when you also get free housing and food stamps? Has it ever occurred to you that many honest working folks have much less than that to live on after rent/bills are paid?

    Also, pair of eyes and ears monitoring the neighborhood for break-ins and telling thieves to move along? More like a pair of eyes and ears monitoring the neighborhood for when you're at work and telling your TV and laptop to move along.

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    Section 8

    By on

    You know that Section 8 housing isn't free, right? It is assistance for part of the rent. The tenant has to prove they can afford to pay their portion.

    In fact, I had an amazing landlord once who like me and my husband so our rent was really cheap ($750 back in 2000 in Malden). I spoke with a Section 8 recipient who lived nearby: she was paying 1.5 times what I was out of her pocket before the government subsidy kicked in.

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    Oh Poor Anon!

    By on

    You know so little of the world - must be tough that mommy and daddy pay all your bills so that you never see how much things really cost!

    Yes, yes. The poor should just charge things on their credit cards like you do, and have their parents pay the balance. Or borrow $20K from their dad to start a business!

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    At least the guy's working.

    Why pick on someone who's working no matter how much or little they make. If the person is making an effort, then why not help them?

    It's the people to truly do sponge off of the system I don't want to help.

    Sure.

    By on

    $13,000 per year is more than enough to afford living in Boston. Roughly $1,000 per month. With or without assistance.

    Sure.

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    $1000 a month

    By on

    Is quite a nice chunk of money if your food (food stamps,) shelter (public housing/section 8) and healthcare (Medicaid) are already paid for. Heck, most people here don't have this much disposable income unless they're making $80k+.

    Do you know something I don't?

    By on

    Food stamps and Sec. 8 are supplements, not free all-you-can-eat buffets, no matter what Fox News bleats. Even people who live in public housing have to pay rent.

    But if you think you can get by in Boston on $12,000 a year, even with reduced rent and food costs, hey, I'm sure it's very pleasant on your planet, wherever that is.

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    I really don't want to wade

    By on

    I really don't want to wade into this one, but there are some people in public housing who pay only $50 as minimum rent or get waivers (short term or long term) for paying rent, so technically, your statement isn't accurate. Also, to the extent public housing residents pay rent, it's a portion of their "income", often 30%, and that determination is a science unto itself. some public subsidies are included as income and some aren't. I'm not saying it's easy to be (or one is fortunate to be) living in public housing by any means, but the supplements you describe aren't as cut and dry as you, on one end of the spectrum, and Fox News (and the anon above) on the other end of the spectrum, would suggest. And to the anon's point, many people in this city have very little to live on after they pay their for food and shelter, particularly now that the average Boston rent as spiked to 2000 per month- but I'm sure all these luxury condos will make life easier for us all!

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    It is.

    You have to have friends.

    My little two room space is strange with a makeshift microwave kitchen element.

    But it's free.

    And when you don't have to feed rent seekers, you can skate on like 8 grand if you are single, don't own a car and don't want anything.

    My 'landlord' is basically thrilled that I meet the plumber at 7am as needed, (he never gets up before 11.)

    He gets a free building super who only charges 15 bucks an hour for billable stuff and I get my funny little suite with a nice window on Inman. I also get free comcast from another friend in the building.

    So my main costs are food, T fares for video trips and weed.

    It's that shift from financial capital to social capital. Those years of free stuff I did for people were a social investment in a way. I think it's called Planet Barter.

    LOL!

    By on

    Also, pair of eyes and ears monitoring the neighborhood for break-ins and telling thieves to move along?

    ------------

    Now that is just rich - thanks for the laugh.

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    What an idiot right

    By on

    I mean, having someone around, seeing stuff, greeting people couldn't ever make a robber think twice about busting a window in full view.

    of course not.

    And Wal Mart has greeters because its just so nice, not because it cuts shoplifting substantially to have someone eyeballing and engaging everyone who comes in.

    Disability?

    By on

    Social Security Disability? Good, to receive $13,000 per annum. There are many others whose monthly allotment is below $820 (like $812 ...). True, services are offered to compensate for many gaps, like food stamps & food banks once a month. If elderly, you might be eligible for The Ride & the Office of Elder Affairs could get taxi vouchers out to you (also once a month) for transport to Stop & Shop. (Yep, don't even look in the direction of Whole Foods ... .)

    Thing is, there is a LOT the general population doesn't realize about the BUSINESS of being a person who is old or a person with disabilities. It is often a full time job, trying to stay out in front of pain, increasing difficulty with ambulation like unsteadiness or trainsient dizziness, making & keeping interminable appointments for chronic conditions. Not to mention being on waiting lists for housing for years. Why not educate yourself?

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    My condo's walkway hits

    My condo's walkway hits Boylston Street directly where those signs were posted. Please note the use of past tense.

    This guy has been in the neighborhood for years. Prior to him, there were other guys asking for spare change near my building. As a relatively long-term resident, I don't see the problem. Is it an issue that I have lived at my present address for 8 years? After all that is a "long time." He does not harm anyone (except for the occasional off-color comment) and he has obviously lived and continues to live a hard life. So give the guy a break. He never bothers me when I meet his request for change with "sorry, {name here}, I don't. But have a wonderful day." Usually he responds with "you too, buddy" along with a compliment or two for my dog.

    I fear that the original sign posters are going to be the death of the Jamaica Plain I know and love. Life ain't clean and tidy. Heaven forbid someone reminds you of this fact. If they can't handle the presence of this gentleman on "their" street, maybe they should move somewhere more antiseptic.

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    It's really not about wanting

    By on

    It's really not about wanting life to be clean and tidy. By giving panhandlers money you are perpetuating and enabling their addictions. The last thing someone with a mental issue needs is to be drinking alcohol or worse. If you truly want to help someone in this condition give money to a shelter.

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    then

    By on

    don't give him money. And don't tell me what to do.

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    I'm not telling you what to

    By on

    I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just explaining that anyone who gives money to a panhandler on the street or by the side of the wrong is more than likely feeding his or her addiction. There are a number of services that help homeless people, but they usually don't help people that are addicted or taking drugs, that's why you see them on the street begging. You are enabling their behavior and hurting that person by giving them your spare change.

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    Not likely

    By on

    You are enabling their behavior and hurting that person by giving them your spare change.

    Most CEOs feel the same way.

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    Mental issue?

    How do you know that a person has a "mental issue"? How do you know that they have a substance abuse issue? (in this particular case, the guy is honest, but he isn't the only one around)

    Consider this: what would you do if you only had $1,000 to live on, had to pay 1/3 of that for your share of the housing, then had to shell out $200 each month for your share of your prescriptions, and then only had about $450 left to live on (when even cheap food costs about that per month)?

    That isn't a mental issue.

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    Ummm

    By on

    Food stamps? Medicaid? Bueler?

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    How naive

    By on

    I have a relative who pays $100 a month toward medicaid and still has $200 in prescription bills (down from $350 last year).

    Then she pays $400 for housing.

    She gets $78 a month in food stamps.

    Man, are you effing clueless or what?

    Oh, and she waited 5 years to get Section 8 housing.

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    Ever do a poor person's taxes for them?

    Income: $13,000 per year
    Food Stamps: $53 per month (yep - that's all!)
    Medicare premium: $115 per month
    Prescription payments for drugs not covered or copays: $0-$500 or more
    Housing: 1/3 of income (IF they are LUCKY enough to get that housing!)
    Remainder: food and clothing and transportation

    A "round numbers" Monthly Budget:
    Gross income: $1100 + $53 food stamps = about $1150
    Medicare premium: $100
    Housing: $375
    Uncovered scripts and copays: $225 (typical for disability)

    $1150-$100-$375-$225 = $450

    Note that is WITH MEDICAID AND FOOD STAMPS.

    Also note that the TWO YEAR wait list for getting onto disability means that a lot of people get in horrible debt because they are required to be constantly sick and unable to work during the waiting period.

    Of course we all like to believe that people are better cared for than that. Problem is, they aren't.

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    yeah, they're all just a bunch of drug addicts

    By on

    "How do you know that a person has a "mental issue"? How do you know that they have a substance abuse issue? (in this particular case, the guy is honest, but he isn't the only one around)"

    Because mental health issues affect 2/3rds of the homeless population, substance abuse affects 1/3rd, and because substance abuse is a symptom of homelessness - an attempt to either fit in with others, or to dull the pain of their situation. Mental health issues *are* a cause of homelessness; they cause interpersonal relationship breakdowns, loss of employment, etc.

    Try googling "substance abuse homelessness" and you can read the first hit, which is a PDF from the national homelessness alliance, about the myths regarding this stuff.

    But then again, as the most privileged member of our society - white, female, advanced degree, married - you already feel entitled to know everything.

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    LOL, anon!

    white, female, advanced degree, married

    You forgot the part about "and owning and maintaining property in another city so relatives can live rent free on disability payments and not be homeless".

    (Female being privileged? Oh lord, that's funny)

    Sorry, but you cannot assume that someone who is panhandling is homeless, drug-addicted, or mentally ill. A lot of regular panhandlers would not be able to be out there 4-6 hours each day, every day, if they were that messed up!

    I'd love to see the medical credentials and psychic powers that permit you to make that determination of substance abuse, homelessness, and mental illness on the spot, particularly since 90% of panhandling is street theater to play on your presumptions. A lot of insurers would pay good money for such amazing skills.

    I don't need an advanced degree to look up the actual statistics, either: http://www.statisticbrain.com/homelessness-stats/

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    Bzzt! Wrong!

    By on

    Most homeless people do not have mental health issues or substance abuse problems.

    Their mind...

    As someone who has spent time working on homelessness policy and done direct service work with the homeless, I can tell you exactly where she got her info - she made it up.

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    Yes, yes

    By on

    God forbid the mentally ill, poor, mostly poor, or whatever have you feed their addictions like the rest of us.

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    Done.

    Buck knife one, opining about homeless services zero.

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    I saw him get out of a van once

    By on

    The driver told him what time they'd pick him up. So I don't know if someone is using him to run a scam or not. He's a nice guy. People can at least say hi and keep going on their way.

    Or maybe he's disabled in way

    By on

    Or maybe he's disabled in way that makes walking very far hard and someone is nice enough to give him a lift sometimes?

    the new jp

    By on

    Is this what its come to? Passive aggressive notes trying to incite strangers against another stranger in the public forum (I know)? This is a sad state of affairs and a sign this once great are, full of community and culture, has devolved to this careless callous display from some NIMBY who I doubt has even lived there the three years they're complaining that a person they don't know sometimes says words to them and other people they don't know has been doing so.

    Nobodys forcing you to help the homeless but do please remember that he's still a person, with needs and feelings and birthdays. If you don't want to give, don't. If it bothers you that you feel guilty and want it to stop, keep it to yourself. Its not an actual problem, and the only one you're harming is yourself (and a little piece of your soul) by dwelling on it so much.

    What's left of old jp will ensure this petty little note backfires in your selfish little face.

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    I agree with a lot of what

    I agree with a lot of what you said, but what is this 'old JP' you refer to? How long ago did this old JP exist? I've been a (mostly) happy resident of JP for 30 years and I can tell you, there have always been good people, and rotten people here. Rich and poor. Mean and nice. I've lived in JP's shitty sections, and shittier sections. Sometimes the crappiest street has the nicest people, and sometimes not. I don't think the mean spirited way the original sign comes across is indicative of a "New JP" any more than I believe in the fairytale of some utopian JP that likely never existed, even though we might wish it did.

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    His name is Wallace. He's a

    By on

    His name is Wallace. He's a resident of a local halfway, and he's not that bad. The worst offense would be leaving butts everywhere, buuut sadly so do 90% of smokers (I smoke too so don't try to get all angry with fact, other smokers).

    I promise you, the original poster came from a transplant. Go back to Brookline with that shit.

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    understandable

    By on

    Hearing that guy say "canyousparesomechange" as a single word every single morning is definitely annoying. Then it always follows with "allllright" as you walk by. I saw a young guy hand him a $20 one morning. It seemed like a regular exchange between the two. So he is making an income there.

    There was something more annoying to me about this guy than other homeless people I see asking for change. I wonder if it's because he doesn't seem indigent enough. He's usually dressed nicely, has lots of spare time. I know that sounds wrong but there's some truth to explore there.

    I'm ok with someone making a sign that says don't pay this homeless man. Maybe if I this was the only chance he had for income I wouldn't feel as annoyed at seeing this guy every morning. It would just be another reminder of gross social inequality.

    For me this guy was a constant reminder that I don't have extra time or money to hand off to people as I go off to eek out my meager wage.

    He's just too glib about the whole thing. I suppose he's a perfect hipster panhandler. His glib attitude sort of mocks the system we're all taking part in as we trudge through the elements commuting somewhere to work for money.

    If you're never fretting about a lack of spare income why not pass this guy a $20. It's probably partly your parents money, and where did buying into the economic system ever get them.

    Not sure where I'm going with this but I can understand the intentions of the original sign poster. And I understand the intentions of the "I'm knee-jerk relishing in the notion that I'm a better person than you" follow up sign posters.

    Soo what's my adviceā€¦ Either call the police and make a complaint about the guy every day or use your irritation with him as a daily practice to try to understand your frustration with your role in a crappy economic system or talk to the guy, tell him you can't stand his voice and ask him to leave you aloneā€¦ then call the police.

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    getoveryourself.

    By on

    You know you can't be arrested for talking, yes? I'm certain the officers over at E13 would love you wasting their resources over a panhandler. Get over yourself, if you don't like his voice, get some headphones, and count your blessings you have a job and a home you can (even if just barely) afford to pay for. Don't punch down. Some people's kids, I swear.

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    Pray tell

    How exactly does one present themselves as "indigent enough" to accurately portray what a homeless person should look like in your world?

    Also, he's "too glib" about the whole thing? Most times I see him he looks pretty damn defeated. He has days where he seems happy (THE NERVE!), but he more looks and sounds like someone who is in pretty ill health.

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    Charity Scams

    By on

    I wish the person who put up the original sign would put energy into cracking down on the charity scammers. There is one guy in particular I've seen in JP many times over the last few years (at FH, in front of the CoOp and outside Goodwill) who claims to raise money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. He usually starts, "Can I talk to you for a moment? Don't worry, I'm not asking for money." And then he proceeds to ask for money. Onetime he hit me up the day after I had come from the Avon closing ceremony at UMass. He said he was razing money for the upcoming walk. Not even realizing that it had happened the day before.

    Anyone doing anything to help the guy out?

    By on

    For all the criticism of the person who put up the sign has anyone committed to helping this guy get out of panhandling?

    I've been fortunate to have avoided panhandling. There was a day when that option started to look like the only one. The reason I even considered it was because I didn't see any other options.

    I am pretty sure however that if I had to resort to panhandling that regularly being ignored would have made my state of mind even worse. Maybe this fellow can withstand being ignored most of the time. I couldn't.

    I can not see how this guy would happily choose to accumulate an income - or self esteem - by begging. But I can see how this guy could wind up perceiving himself as not having any other choice.

    But that is where everyone else comes in. By being the person or people who can help him see he has other choices and can help him opt for better choices. I can't. I don't have the means or the time to do that. But does anyone who pilloried the person expressing the unpopular opinion have the time, means and resources?

    Give a mentally ill man a

    By on

    Give a mentally ill man a fish, he may wear it as a hat. Teach him how to fish, and he may jump off the bridge. Point officially missed.