The different colors of the Pru

The top of the tower will be a different color every night this month to honor local non-profit groups. Here's the list.

Via Adam Castiglioni.



    Free tagging: 



    and then some.

    Women's Lunch Place + the Pru

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    Hooray for Women's Lunch Place! It is an organization that deserves your attention, time and money.

    I have volunteered there for a while and every time I go there I leave with a new friend and a sense of love and hope. The women who I see there are wonderful and beautiful. It's an honor to work with them and to serve them.

    For the record, I am one of the main #sobstoryguy mockers on twitter. He is a scam artist and he detracts our attention from people who really need our assistance like the women at WLP.

    You're a hypocrite

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    So, people with some combination of mental illness and unfortunate history get compassion and volunteer hours from you if their behavior is socially appropriate, but people with some combination of mental illness and unfortunate history whose behavior is socially inappropriate get mocked on twitter?

    Sob Story Guy

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    eeka, consider the case of the executive team at Countrywide Financial. What they did was knowingly make overpriced and inappropriate mortgage loans to unwitting borrowers unlikely to be able to pay them back, and then turn around and package those loans as bonds and sell them to unwitting investors as a good investment.

    The reason they did this is not because of some combination of mental illness and unfortunate history, it's because they found it an easy way to make a living, so long as they were able to put aside their moral scruples about deceiving people. It's manifestly obvious that they have the skills to earn an honest living.

    In my own personal moral calculus, Sob Story guy is exactly like the executive team at Countrywide: He scams people because he finds it an easy way to make a living, so long as he is able to put aside his moral scruples about deceiving people. It's manifestly obvious that he has the skills to earn an honest living. I know, from first hand accounts from friends in social services, that many of these guys make a very good living. Share a section 8 apartment with a few others, on which you pay very little rent because most of your income is unreported cash, each of you pulls in $3-500 per day in scamming proceeds, and you can live quite well.

    I don't have compassion for the executive team at Countrywide, and I don't have compassion for Sob Story Guy. I believe that they should be mocked, exposed, and shunned.


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    So you think people should give money to sob story guy and all the regular panhandlers who treat their begging as a job?

    Doesn't that just enable them? Give sob story money to support his crack habit and he'll be back again tomorrow for more and you have not helped anybody!

    Doesn't that give resources to the antisocial, addicted, and able to be out there, rather than those who aren't able to beg but need help with basic stuff?

    The Compassionate Response to Sob Story Guy

    No I won't give you any money and I will call in the cops if you don't get out of my face right now.

    Yes, that is compassionate when he gets belligerent toward people who tell him simply no. It is compassionate because he will not come to a point where he has to confront his addiction or whatever his issues are until people say no to him and he runs out of money.

    I say hello to panhandlers and wish them a good day when they ask for money, but I don't give them money. Giving them money won't help their situation, and it certainly will not help people who lack the energy or health to be out there asking for change nine hours a day five days a week. Giving money to organizations that help with addiction, life skills, and housing does help all who need it.

    To do otherwise is simply karma laundering - people feel a need to feel compassionate and the panhandler provides a feel good opportunity without much complication.

    BTW, another poster seems to think that any indigent person gets section 8. I am currently housing a person on social security disability who is on a THREE YEAR WAIT LIST for housing assistance.

    How about

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    if I give them directions to your neighborhood so that you can give them change?

    Look, I am polite and say hello to, and chat with the guy who makes his living running the drycleaner, even though I am not his customer and do not buy what he is selling. I am polite, and say hello to, and chat with the woman who runs the hairdressing salon, even though I am not her customer and I do not buy what she is selling. I am polite, and say hello to, and chat with the bouncer at a bar that I don't patronize.

    Similarly, I am polite and say hello to, and chat with, the panhandlers, even though I don't buy what they're selling.

    I do, however, give generously to a soup kitchen in my neighborhood. Narrow self interest, of course, would have me export the problem by giving to a soup kitchen in someone else's neighborhood, but I don't do that.


    Explain what part of what I wrote makes me a hypocrite?

    The part where I note that the most compassionate response to an obnoxious junkie is to not enable his addictions with my money or reward obnoxious and threatening behavior?

    The part where I spend several hundred dollars a month to keep a family member from being homeless?

    The part where I point out that giving money to panhandlers is mostly selfish behavior that does little or nothing to help and instead give money to service organizations that give actual help to both the panhandlers and those who can't join them?

    Come on, nameless - explain yourself with rational arguments.

    Hypocrisy Hero!

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    Liberal hypocrite: doesn't give money to panhandlers but does support soup kitchens

    Conservative hypocrite: gets supported and goes to college on social security, but advocates destroying social programs, gives no money to charity, and pretends to wash clean dishes in a closed soup kitchen.

    Yeah, I know what I wanna be.

    Section 8 housing

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    BTW, another poster seems to think that any indigent person gets section 8. I am currently housing a person on social security disability who is on a THREE YEAR WAIT LIST for housing assistance.

    Please do not misrepresent me; I do not think that any indigent person gets Section 8, but I do happen to know more than one successful panhandler do does happen to get Section 8, and makes a decent living on top of that.


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    Yes, it's appropriate and helpful to let any person know what you think of their behavior and not to enable the behavior.

    It's also appropriate to have compassion and not to harass people, especially by spending your time mocking them on twitter when they aren't even bothering you anymore. Be grateful that you're someone with skills and an identity who would feel embarrassed and shamed to be out scamming people, and that sob story guy bothers you for only a few minutes and then you go back to your comfortable privileged life in which you wouldn't be in a situation where you'd be so strung out that scamming people for change sounds like a good idea.

    Here's what you said, eeka

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    "Yes, it's appropriate and helpful to let any person know what you think of their behavior and not to enable the behavior."

    Dead wrong! This guy is dangerous and violent. For one's own safety it's actually appropriate to NOT let him know what you think of his behavior in any way unless you're ready to engage in a violent confrontation.

    He should be avoided at all costs.

    You're way off base on this one.
    Admit it, you've never seen him in your life.

    Sob Story Guy is a con artist

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    One week he needs to $7 to get to his grandmother in Worcester. One week he needs it to get to his grandmother in Springfield. He always says that this is the last time he'll ever do this. He usually says that his shoes are worn out but if you look at them, you'll see that he's wearing more expensive sneakers than I have ever owned.

    His spiel also includes a sad part about the Pine Street Inn having no place for him. Bullshit. Sometimes I see this guy three times a week at South Station. He NEVER gets in to Pine Street Inn for the night?

    For what it's worth, the women at the Women's Lunch Place, for the most part, are not mentally ill. Lots of the women there are coming out of abusive relationships and deserve our respect for getting out of bad situations when they have nowhere to go. A tragic number of them are seniors.

    I will not support a scam. I do not believe this guy has a mental illness (for the record, I do) and if he's an addict, then I'm all out of sympathy for addicts after dealing with my brother for 20+ years. He looks to be in his 20s, fairly well groomed and not starving.

    I don't happen to agree with your assessment of me being a hypocrite. If I truly believed he needed help and could not get into the Pine Street Inn I would suggest he try the Boston Rescue Mission which is about five blocks away from where we are.

    I didn't say to support his scam

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    And I wouldn't recommend supporting his scam.

    I said he needs compassion, not mockery. Some people's illnesses and limitations come across as socially appropriate, and other people's don't. People don't choose their neurological makeup or their history.

    For what it's worth, I'm mentally ill

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    I don't want to disclose what I have but it's serious enough to be called a "parity illness" which means that it has been classified as a biological disease and not just a psychological disorder. I drank and smoked pot for years to self-medicate and it took a boss threatening to fire me if I didn't go to a doctor before I finally saw a doctor. I was in my 30s before I got a correct diagnosis and went through almost a decade of psychiatric hell before I finally got on the right diagnosis and got put on a medication that works. So don't ever say I don't know what it's like to have a bad neurological makeup or history.

    This guy's illness is laziness and I have no compassion for that.

    I wonder if Sob Story Guy knows

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    I wonder if Sob Story Guy knows what an online celebrity he is? I've seldom seen anyone consistenly generate so many comments. If so, I'm surprised he hasn't found some way to parlay it into a moneymaking scheme like maybe selling ""Sob Story Guy" T shirts or something.

    When did you examine him, Eeka?

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    Seems like you have a pretty good take on his issues.
    Comprehensive exam, was it?

    And here when I've seen him threaten kids and women I just thought he was an asshole.

    Some of you just were not raised right

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    People who are stable and happy in their lives don't threaten children or spend their days scamming people face-to-face. A healthy person would be embarrassed to do either.

    I'm not saying I like his behavior. I don't. I'm saying that he needs compassion, not harassment.

    Now you disparage how my parent's raised me?

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    And no, it is absolutely not "appropriate and helpful to let any person know what you think of their behavior and not to enable the behavior."

    You should diagnose yourself b/c that is, dare I say, crazy advice that could get someone hurt.

    At this point I'm pretty sure you've never even seen the guy you're giving such expert advice on.

    I've seen him get into scuffles and verbally abuse people and you're suggesting UH readers engage him AND criticize
    his behavior?!?

    Given your acknowledged work in mental health that is unsettling to say the least.


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    The response of other humans to someone's behavior is the only thing that is ever effective in changing behavior.

    I didn't say to do any of the stuff you said, nor do I think anything I said warrants slurs and name-calling on your part. I said to let him know you don't appreciate the behavior and that it's not effective in getting his needs met. Not giving him money is the way to show this. If he's forceful and has initiated with you, then yes, I would suggest stating to him that you don't appreciate the behavior, and yes, call the cops if he's gone far enough to warrant that. Clearly, enough people are reinforcing his behavior, because he's still finding it effective.

    And mocking him on twitter isn't accomplishing a damn thing, except showing how some of you really lack compassion.

    Raised wrong

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    Here is where we fundamentally disagree: You think he needs compassion. I think he needs to develop a sense of responsibility.

    Maybe I was raised wrong but I was taught the value of hard work and sucking it up in hard times and getting through them. Most people would have killed themselves if they'd gone through what I went through but I wasn't raised to make people feel sorry for me or to wallow in my own problems. I was raised to WORK. So if you think that means I was raised wrong then I proudly own that.

    All out of compassion

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    I'm on the T with my wife and small daughter and this clown announces that he's HIV positive and that if someone doesn't give him money, he is going to "cut himself so you will know I'm serious." That's not a sob story, that's a goddamn threat. I don't have a lick of sympathy for a junkie that makes me go from enjoying my train ride with my family to figuring out how to protect them from this guy if he freaks out. I don't care how shitty his parents were, he is using fear and intimidation to get people to give him money. That's not "socially inappropriate". Farting in the elevator is "socially inappropriate". He knows damn well what he is doing. Fuck him. I hope he OD's soon so I don't have to see his busted ass ever again.

    Does Bernie Madoff deserve compassion?

    At some point, anti-social behavior needs a 'tough' rather than a 'loving' response.

    (See also: Fake Spare Change News guy who used to scam people in Davis and other T stations. He finally stopped only after people started taking and posting photos of him and warning other passengers away from him.)


    By on

    They're not mutually exclusive. He deserves compassion. Doesn't mean any of what he did was OK.

    Does everybody deserve compassion?

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    To have compassion for another human being is to reduce his suffering, either because the compassion motivates you to take material action to improve his situation, or simply because knowing that someone out there cares for you nourishes the soul.

    I'm not interested in reducing Bernie Madoff's suffering (And his crimes don't rise to the level of, say, a child rapist, but his is the example on the table). On the contrary, I want to increase it, to deepen his despair, to reinforce his understanding that he has been ostracized from civilized humanity.

    Call me an Old-Testament retributive asshole if you want, but my compassion is not for everyone. Perhaps if I were a better person, it would be. I certainly admire the Dalai Lama, but that's not who I am.

    I also believe in free will. If you don't, if your posture toward Sob Story Guy is that he's the inevitable product of his circumstances, then, similarly, your posture toward Mother Teresa must also be that she was the inevitable product of her circumstances, and that, just as Sob Story Guy is not to be mocked and ridiculed, Mother Teresa is not to be admired and praised.

    What about his victims?

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    Do you think that Mr. Madoff has compassion for any of his victims? I wonder how much loving-kindness and compassion he sends out into the world every day?