Cries in the city redux
A couple of comments came through about my post about the panhandler in South Station...all good...when you've been around enough, even if it's just Boston, forget all the foreign cities I've been to, you get pretty jaded. And no, you certainly can't empty your pockets and save the world.
But something broke through the crust in me yesterday...maybe it was his pitiful cries for whatever reason...usually these guys aren't this...what's the word?--vocal? wretched? Maybe it was because he needed a fix really bad and didn't want to resort to anything really desperate, illegal, or harmful.
No, I didn't give him anything either, although I've reached in my pocket on more than one occasion for the homeless in Boston. And like one commenter said, I've also bought burgers and fries at McDonald's and dropped the sack in a homeless person's lap and kept walking. That was probably better than money because, sure, you can't barter a hamburger for drugs or booze. Or maybe you can, I don't know.
And maybe that's a good point. Most of us really don't know what life is like that far on the edge. Some of us do. I know a guy who lived in a car when he was little. (And he has very little sympathy for panhandlers; we're all products of our own particular experiences.) I've known my share of addicts, drunks, and down-and-outs in my life. Some of them aren't alive today because of their demons. Maybe you can keep a person alive for a day with a handout, or maybe they'll take it and kill themselves with it that night.
Maybe these scams are desperate attempts just to get something, because just standing there with your cup out just doesn't bring in enough.
I keep saying it: I don't know.
Maybe they should get a job. Learn how to play guitar and busk in the subway stations. That would certainly meet society's minimum standards for a work ethic.