My daughter had her first experience with panhandlers in San Francisco last week. I wondered how she would respond. This topic is similar to the post I had a couple of weeks ago about tipping; we make a value judgment about whether or not the beggar deserves our money. One woman had a large dog and a sign stating that she needed money to help feed her and her dog. My daughter wondered how she could be poor if she had a dog; that she must have money if she bought a dog. I went into several possible explanations (i.e. maybe someone gave her the dog, maybe she rescued the dog, maybe she bought the dog when she had money etc…) but my daughter’s response surprised me. Another man simply had a sign that said “Why lie? I want a beer!” At least he was honest. Another woman had an interesting story: She was pregnant and wanted to move back home with her Mom. She had – here’s the hook – two kittens and she needed to get special tags for them to travel on the bus with her and that’s why she was asking for money. She also had a sign that said “Everything little bit helps”. My daughter and niece quickly asked me and my nephew for some money that we both were happy to give. The truth is that people can have much more sympathy for animals than they do for people, and panhandlers know that.
Could you imagine surviving on the generosity of others?
I think most of us possess much too much pride. Heck, most of us have trouble even asking for help, even when we really, really need it. It’s true that pride goes before a fall.
How do you feel when confronted by beggars/panhandlers?