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Would you give money to a beggar?

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
So today I was out doing some errands. I was in the parking lot of one of those "big box" home improvement stores. I was loading my trunk when I hear behind me,..."Excuse me, sir." The first time didn't quite register and he said,..."Excuse me, sir." again. I turned around and there is this disheveled-looking, elderly man in a motorized wheel chair. "Excuse me, my van ran out of gas and I don't have money to fill it up and get home. Could you spare some money for me?" Keep in mind, the only thing that really flashed in my head was that I was standing next to my fancy new Tesla Model 3,...and here this other person was begging for a few bucks. Without any hesitation or a word, I pulled out the remaining $1 bills in my wallet,...wasn't much,...about $7,...but that's all I had. I handed it to him, he left, and I went about my business. As I am putting away my shopping cart, I notice him doing the same thing to another group of people in the parking lot. It was at that point that I realized what was going on.

1. I realized I had just been scammed out of $7 without a bit of thought or hesitation.
2. I realized that I am more of a giving person than I thought.
3. He clearly looked the part of a homeless person,...van short of gasoline or not,...he looked like he could use a helping hand.
4. A part of me was ashamed of myself for falling for a beggar's scam, and another felt good to give.

What would you do?
 

Au Naturel

Au Naturel
Offer to give them food instead or to pump the gas for them. They almost never take me up on it.

Food usually isn't the problem. They usually want money for liquor or drugs. Liquor and/or drugs are, in turn, often why they are stuck panhandling. Nasty circle.
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Your intention was good. You often don't know what is really going on at the moment. Maybe it's real, maybe it's BS. I'll give if I have usually. Then I forget about it.
 

Nervous Rex

High-functioning autistic
V.I.P Member
As I am putting away my shopping cart, I notice him doing the same thing to another group of people in the parking lot. It was at that point that I realized what was going on.

1. I realized I had just been scammed out of $7 without a bit of thought or hesitation.
2. I realized that I am more of a giving person than I thought.
3. He clearly looked the part of a homeless person,...van short of gasoline or not,...he looked like he could use a helping hand.
4. A part of me was ashamed of myself for falling for a beggar's scam, and another felt good to give

I agree with @Tom. If the beggar was dishonest, that's on him, not you. You gave because you felt like it was right to do so and you should feel good about it.

I sometimes give, and I sometimes "call their bluff" by offering a ride, food, or gas (whatever they're begging for). I get a little ticked off at the people that I can clearly see are just collecting money, but I would feel bad if I had the opportunity to give to someone in real need, and I didn't.
 

watersprite

inadvertent vagabond
V.I.P Member
There’s a guy in the parking lot where I shop who does that to shoppers too.
I bought him lunch st a Greek restaurant, not sit down but brought it out to him. I sat on the wall and watched him eat it. Asked him, “if I had given you cash, would you have used it to buy liquor?” He hesitated and said yeah, mostly.

But he must’ve been hungry because he at the whole lunch pretty quickly.

People going by on their way to the shops were certainly looking at me - talking with the dirty, smelly, bedragtled homeless guy.

So I don’t have a clear answer @Neonatal RRT .
 

Yeshuasdaughter

You know, that one lady we met that one time.
V.I.P Member
Yes I would, with some stipulations.

If it's a teenage/ early 20's kid, then yes. Especially if they have the all over "sandy tan" look of someone who hops trains. I worry so much about those kids. I've had friends that I never heard from again, and when I see those kids, I see the faces of my loved ones, and a little bit of myself too. I'll give them anything, just so they'll be safe for a night.

Tweakers/junkies: nah. I sometimes buy them food, but I usually cross the street when I see them coming on their stolen bmx bicycles. Man how do they afford bicycles, dogs, and RVs? I want one of each, and they are way out of reach for me lol!

People with kids: ALWAYS. I don't care if they're on drugs or whatever. Those kids need to have a bit of hope in their lives. And what if all the kids have had to eat today are bread and kool aid? I give them all kinds of groceries, maybe a toy, and I give them money, even if I'm nearly broke.

Elderly: Nearly always. They can't do much for themselves, and so as long as they aren't scary tweakers or drunks, I do help grandpa out. It must be terrible to sleep out on the hard concrete when you're old and feeble. It must get so cold.

It's really a case by case basis, going by my gut experience.
 

Sherlock77

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I very much go with my gut, but very rarely give to panhandlers

One homeless man I did meet recently downtown was sitting on a bench next to a painting he did, I had a short chat with him, took a photo/portrait... Then spontaneously just offered him $5, he wasn't panhandling, I'm not sure what he actually did with the money but he said that money would help him buy some art supplies...
 

Suzette

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
"A fool and his money are soon parted". Most often I am the fool.
When I see someone begging there is a reason they are there. I choose not to sit in judgment about where the money goes. I never give more than I can easily loose. Maybe this guy buys booze, maybe he buys a needed meal. Who am I to pretend to know what is really the best thing right now? Maybe the booze keeps him going just until his appointment with a miracle will happen. That miracle won't be me and thats ok.
If I don't have money to give I don't feel bad either.
 

Varzar

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Short answer is no.

I feel like part of the point of having government to manage society is to make sure that people who are suffering don't fall through the cracks. We pay taxes to the government to fund social programs.
If that money isn't enough, is being spent in the wrong places, is being poorly managed, etc etc and therefore not getting to all the people that need it, then that is a problem for the government to solve, not me personally. If the government isn't solving it as society deems appropriate, then that's where elections should come in. That's where we as individuals get their choice of management.

Also, I tend to be the type that is voting for parties promising more social programs, not less. So, that's my contribution to the way I think society should go.
 

jleeb05

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
There are posts on here about whether Aspies are susceptible to scams which might be helpful. That said, yes, I have given money/food to people on the street though not often because I rarely carry cash on me anymore. In Boston, there is an area nicknamed "Methadone Mile" because there are a lot of drug users and homeless people. It just happens to be next to a McDonald's, my idea was to get a bunch of $5 McDonald's gift cards and hand those out when people asked. That was back when there was a dollar menu and $5 could buy you 5 hamburgers but it'll still get them something.

My first job was as a homelessness case manager and there are a lot of misconceptions about what homelessness looks like. Some homeless people have jobs, some of them have cars, and families, and responsibilities. I know there are a lot of urban legends about people who beg on the street and then drive home in Cadillacs but I would suspect this almost never happens and if it does...maybe that's the only thing the person has left in their name...maybe they sleep in their car. I think we tell ourselves these things and convince ourselves that these people are liars because it absolves us of our guilt. I strongly believe that most able-bodied, able-minded people would prefer working over going through the humiliation of sitting on the street begging for money. It's not like it's a get-rich-quick scheme and it's certainly not a pleasant experience. I doubt these people are even collecting the equivalent of minimum wage and they get a lot of vitriol in the process.

Perhaps, the guy wasn't lying to you. Giving him $7 was extremely kind of you but maybe he thought if he asked a few more people he could actually fill up his tank instead of just getting enough to go home. Or maybe it was a lie but he desperately needs the money and realized that having a sob story would garner more sympathy than just saying, "I'm homeless, please give me cash."

One thing to note, I do sometimes hesitate because I don't want the money to be used for drugs or alcohol but I also don't judge. A homeless man once asked my law school roommate for money. They were next to a Chipotle so my roommate offered to buy him a burrito instead. Well, the homeless guy declined and said he really wanted the money to go to the liquor store next to the Chipotle. At least he was honest haha. My roommate thanked him for his honesty but didn't give him the money, of course. I wouldn't have either but being homeless is awful and many of them are experiencing great despair and trauma. I can't honestly say that if I had to sleep, eat, use the bathroom, etc., on some street corner that I wouldn't seek out substances to help numb the experience. I'm not condoning it, just saying that I understand.

Lastly, even if you don't give them money, I hate when people just ignore the homeless and act as if they don't exist. I recall a homeless man asking me for change. I briefly stopped, apologized, and said I didn't have any money on me. Despite not giving him anything, he got teary-eyed and thanked me for acknowledging his existence and treating him like a human being.

So, I don't think you were scammed. Perhaps, the guy was dishonest but I want to believe that you genuinely helped someone in need. And even if it was a scam, I don't think that your kindness/willingness to help is something you need to change. I don't think you are a bad person if you never give another dollar to a homeless person. It's a choice. But continue to be humane and continue to be kind. And if being kind, means that you occasionally give a couple bucks to someone who didn't really need it...oh well. We give a lot more money away to a bunch of rich people who don't deserve it. *Cough...Elon Musk...richest man in the world* *Cough....congratulations on the new Tesla...cough ;)*
 
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VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
I save it for the buskers. That said, if the panhandler is polite, like holding the door open while silently holding a cup, I might toss a coin.

Where I am, there are some "regulars", some of whom are aggressive, and it saddens me when someone, without asking, buys and gifts a meal in good faith, and they throw it out almost right away as they want money primarily for substances. There are also some, though likely very rare who do it as a profession. A colleague relayed a story of how on a "night out" then happened to recognize someone nearby, neatly dressed with a date, was one of the regulars near our place of work.
 

Thinx

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I feel that the wider social issue is at the core of this, as to how society cares for all of it's members, and understands and addresses their varied and complex needs.

At the back of my mind has always been, that could be me, or someone I know and care about, what except luck mostly, separates me from this person and their situation?

At the same time, that makes me torn about giving randomly on the street, as I just do not at all understand the concept of sitting somewhere and asking for money. There is a system of provision in the UK, and despite that it is clunky, minimal and fallible, that is the route to coping if needed.

Where people fall through the cracks as sadly they sometimes do, as the system isn't flexible or mindful enough of the diversity of potential challenges people face, many will not actually present themselves overtly, we will not see them on the street asking for help, they are hidden casualties. I have sometimes worked in organisations that seek to assist those people.
 

Progster

Gone sideways to the sun
V.I.P Member
What would you do?
In that particular circumstance, I probably wouldn't have given anything, simply because I don't like random strangers coming up to me and talking to me - if I see it happening, I give them a wide berth. I want to see a situation from afar and approach if I feel comfortable doing so, not random strangers approach me.
 

Gracey

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I rarely carry cash. When I reply 'Sorry, I have no cash to give' I'm not lying.

If they were to request help buying a sandwich, hot drink, hot meal, I probably wouldn't hesitate paying the cashier for their food in a cafe/ at a hot food vendor and yet, to date, I've never been asked for any of those things.

I buy a few extra things when shopping and donate to them to the local food banks.
That way I figure I've done a little toward helping someone down on their luck.
 

SusanLR

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Rarely.
I do go with my gut feelings though.
If I do feel they are truly needing. But, it will be a dollar or less.
I don't carry cash either. No more than a couple of ones and some coins.

As noted by others above, there is the system and it is there for a purpose.
The work and pay your taxes as discussed before is part of how it works.
It's there and if in need why don't they go to an assistance office?
Some times it may not be much, but, they can get food and places to stay out of the weather.
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
No, never!

Instead, have gone into a shop a purchased practical food stuff and water.

Have had experiences with the homeless many year's ago and learned fast, that all they want money for is more drugs, drink or cigarettes and so, instead, buy food and had a few turn violent ( happily, got out of the way fast enough).

I know there are legit homeless ones and they would be very happy to receive food etc, but for the most part, they are scammers.
 

Raggamuffin

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Back when I worked and studied in Cambridge I used to enjoy talking to the homeless a lot. Usually interesting people with stories to tell. I'd avoid any who seemed like they were high, because that's just a little unpredictable and unsafe. Mind you, I have sat down and chatted with the homeless before and offered to roll and share a smoke with them - and they never turned me down. There's some sort of stoner camaraderie I think.

Back in the day, with my dreads and my hippie look - I used to get hobos walking past me and greeting me etc. One time I was going to a gf's with a sleeping bag in hand and my clothes were ripped and rather ragged. Some guy came up to me "Hey brother, do you want a drink?" Yikes - yup, I looked like a hobo to other hobos. Seal of approval.

I'm usually very generous with what I give. Last time I was in Cambridge a beggar asked me for money. I said I had no change, but then I paused and told him to follow me. Just around the corner was the car park I'd used and a ticket machine. I knew this ticket machine didn't give notes and would pour out lots of change.

I deliberately paid for my parking ticket (less than £2) with a £20 note and then I gave him all the change that poured out. He was utterly shocked. Moments like that when you "make someone's day" are always worth it. Yes, he may have used it for drink or drugs, but for that moment - we both felt like kings.

Ed
 

Misery

Photo-Negative
V.I.P Member
Ehhhhhhhhhhhh.

Here's the thing: I know it's not always a good idea to do it. Plenty are just scammers, others will just take that money and buy more beer/drugs instead of more food, that sort of thing.

But I cant freaking resist. I cant. Never could. It aint just pocket change either, not like dumping 25 cents into some beggar's bowl. I absolutely will just throw $20 at someone without even considering it.

Granted: Part of it is my own personal situation. I'm in that rare situation where I *genuinely* dont need the money to the point where it's unimportant to me, so I can afford to do this sort of thing without it harming me.

But... honestly I cant stand the IDEA of others suffering, even when I know that there's a fair chance it's a bloody scammer. It. Drives. Me. Crazy.

I always think to myself... but what if it ISNT a scammer? What if that guy really NEEDS that so he can freaking eat? How can I freaking know? The only way I COULD know would be to sit there and get to know the guy a whole bunch, and that takes days/weeks. So, I gotta make the decision then and there...

...And the decision will always be "give the money". Every bloody time. Fortunately I dont live in an urban zone like Chicago, so there aint exactly many homeless or anything around here (and "here" is an endless sequence of grass/corn fields... there's not many people *period*).

I am aware also that this can make me easy to take advantage of. If some friend of mine were to ask "hey can I borrow $50" I'll hand it over without a second thought. Why? They asked nicely and are a friend and they might need it for something important, maybe they'll experience something unpleasant if they dont get it, arrrgh, I cant freaking tell unless they explain it to me (and sometimes, of course, it's none of my business). Fortunately what few friends I do have arent really like that... the only thing my friend who lives near me ever really asked me for was a ride to his job (as he was unable to drive until very recently, so I often drove him there). But if I meet anyone new at some point... they could start doing that, taking advantage, and I'm not sure I'd figure it out. There'd always be that "maybe they really need it, and I sure dont" thought pestering me until I gave in. Which would take all of 30 seconds.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
We give a lot more money away to a bunch of rich people who don't deserve it. *Cough...Elon Musk...richest man in the world* *Cough....congratulations on the new Tesla...cough ;)*

:D
True that. The system is what it is. I am investor in Tesla. I drive his cars because they are truly that good. All I tell people is keep your opinion to yourself until you drive the car,...I have never, ever had anyone step out of a Tesla and go,...Meh,...I like my Toyota better. Most are like "That was totally wicked!!!" He is a visionary with a 50 year plan,...he's been that way since he was a little kid being bullied by his classmates. Yes, he's an Aspie that has a different outlook on life, says some sometimes inappropriate things, and has incredible "special interest" that drives him to work from morning to night, he lives in a tiny house, he doesn't take a salary, he doesn't want to be CEO (his board does),...his wealth is tied up in his companies not necessarily in his name. Don't deserve it,...his wealth appears disproportional to his work, even though he typically works 2X the hours most people do,...but by now, he knows through trial, error, and some degree of heartbreak how the system works. He didn't make the tax code,...our representatives in government did.;)
 

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