04 May 2007

Homeless? Part-time Job?

So, I travel the same route home from work most days. Last week, on Thursday, as I was waiting on a light to change before I could get onto the Beltway, there in the median was a man with a simple cardboard sign that read "HUNGRY". I don't know if other people do this but I looked at him and tried to determine if he actually looked hungry. How would I know, but that's how my brain works. He was working his way down the line of cars with his sign and when he got to mine I made a decision. I slid the window down and handed him a plastic bag with two golden delicious apples in it. He thanked me heartily, took the apples and kept walking with his sign. I couldn't help thinking maybe he wasn't so hungry after all if he didn't stop to eat at least one of the apples. Maybe food wasn't actually his priority, despite the crudely printed message.

Days go by and there are different men with signs there each day it seems. Then Thursday comes and the same fellow that took my apples is there with his "HUNGRY" sign and this time he's wearing a vendor's money apron tied over the waist of his jeans. I kid you not. You know, it's the kind of thing a vendor at a stadium or an outdoor newspaper vendor might wear. It's not a clean new money apron but, still, there it is. And I wonder where does a man who is supposedly in this desperate state get a money apron and why does he think it's going to help his cause to wear it? Is he raking in so much cash working this median that he needs a money apron? Do people say to him "I'd help you out but I only have large bills" to which he pats the apron and helpfully responds "No problem, I have change for whatever you've got right here"? I began to wonder if this was a part-time job. Perhaps he and the other fellows that walked the median shared the shift. Maybe they were in a union.

It reminded me of when I was a teenager and was warned not to buy flowers from people on the side of the road that had orange and red painted "ROSES" signs because these were Moonies and they were organized which is why all the signs looked the same and we didn't want to support a cult, now did we? I've no idea if this was real or an urban legend. Snopes.com doesn't seem to list it.

All of it's a little too bizarre.


Anonymous said...

It's always hard to know in these kind of situations who is really in need, and who is not. I read an interesting article talking about the guilt of not giving to beggars. Are you depriving someone in need, or are you being prudent? Guess you just have to trust your guts. *shrugs*

BTW, out of complete curiousity, how did you happen to run across my post?


lacochran said...

Very true.

Technorati search on "beggars". I find that if I'm encountering something, many people in the blogosphere are, too. Global interconnectedness of all things, and all.