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An eye-opening experience.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Lostprophet, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. Lostprophet

    Lostprophet IncGamers Member

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    An eye-opening experience.

    I'm one of those guys who feels terribly guilty walking by homeless people on the street and totally ignoring them. And since I live near DC, there is an abundance of them on the streets where I hang out. I've always found the "They'll just use the money to buy booze" argument to be rather shallow and unfair, but an incident today has caused me to reconsider.

    My friend and I were hanging out in a downtown area of or in DC (not really sure), exploring various building and rooftops and perusing shops and stuff. We were walking along and I had to go to the bathroom, and spotted a row of porta-pottys (we could have gone inside a building, admittedly, but there wasn't one especially close that looked like it had a bathroom I could use). When I walked out, my friend was talking to a black guy who was pretty obviously homeless (many many coats, unshaven, lots of trinkets, etc). My friend had handed the guy a couple of bucks, because the guy said he was trying to get a hamburger.

    I'm wearing this T-Shirt with a really cool looking gorilla insignia on it, and was wearing it then, too. As I walked over, he pointed to my shirt and started talking about how cool the gorilla was. He seemed really into it, reeling off this long story about how he'd grown up in Kenya and had come face to face with a gorilla one time. He seemed pretty cool, and since I was wearing two shirts anyway (slash because I was kind of affected by the whole thing :hanky: ) I offered it to him. At first he looked at me kind of uncomprehendingly, which is when I first sort of started to suspect something was up. He proceeded to tell me that he would trade me for it, and started taking off jackets. He got down to a leather one which was in pretty good condition and offered it to me. It fit me rather well, actually. Up until now, I'd seen no reason not to trust the guy.

    Right then, he said "Tell you what, I'll trade you the jacket for the shirt and 10 bucks." Suddenly the whole situation became very awkward, as I realized he didn't really want the shirt anyway. I had made it very, very clear that he could have the shirt, no big deal (it was 5 dollars at Target, and was easily replacable). There was no reason for him to drag this "trade" offer into it, except to get more money. Shirts don't buy booze, but money does. I wasn't thinking that at the time, but when I told him I didn't have any more cash (which was true) and reiterated that he could have the shirt for free, he leaned in closer to show me how a gorilla would size me up, and he absolutely reeked of alcohol. His eyes were much more noticably drunk up close, too. My friend and I walked away fairly quickly after that, and Metro'd home.

    The thing is, if I'd had the money I would have just given it to him, sans the whole shirt deal. But maybe I shouldn't have.

    I will continue to give money to people on the street, and in fact did today after said incident, but now I know for a fact that some people are just looking for booze-money. Maybe I should just volunteer in a soup kitchen or something.

    *sigh*

    Thanks for reading, I guess.
     
  2. Cygnus434

    Cygnus434 IncGamers Member

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    I had a similar experience.......

    A friend and I got lost in downtown Tampa, Florida and we were wandering around trying to find the parking garage where he had parked.

    A homeless man came up to us on a bike and asked us for cash....

    Well, I had just spent the rest of my money, so luckily I didnt have any money on me (save for credit card/check card). So i just handed him some of the change from the place I went to. He sighed and seemed to be upset over it. My friend gave him $5 and we ran out of there pretty quickly because we were worried of him coming after us.

    He REEKED of booze. He smelled exactly what I smelled the one time I woke up after drinking a whole fifth of rum by myself one night.
     
  3. Corneo

    Corneo IncGamers Member

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    I also feel guilty, but I usually forget about it in a hour.
     
  4. th5418

    th5418 Banned

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    I would never give homeless people that are ABLE to work if they tried money. At least get a job at McDonalds.
     
  5. Painman

    Painman IncGamers Member

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    If you have no address, that precludes you from properly filling out an application for a job, or a bank account. Nice little catch-22.
     
  6. Wuhan_Clan

    Wuhan_Clan IncGamers Member

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    I usually just spare some pocket change for bums if I'm carrying any but they thank me politely every time. Maybe its just the bums in my neighborhood.
     
  7. cyclotronic

    cyclotronic IncGamers Member

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    There are organizations the specialize in helping homeless people get jobs and what not. I says no money for them.
     
  8. Kore

    Kore IncGamers Member

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    I'm considering making up a map of my town with all the places and dates where you can get free food and giving that out to anyone who asks me for money. Give a man a fish... sort of. And it cuts out the booze possibility.

    Can anyone who lives in Australia explain to me how we can possibly have legitimate homeless people? By that I mean people homeless not just because they don't want to work, or who aren't aware of the whole government thing. The welfare system here all you have to do is be looking for work or do a volunteer program and they'll pay you and set you up with a place to live. That's my understanding anyway.
     
  9. Painman

    Painman IncGamers Member

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    I don't know about Australia, I don't live there. Closest approximation we have here in the 'states for the homeless is for them to commit a petty crime, get sent to jail where they're guaranteed fresh clothes, a shower, a bed and 3 meals a day, then get set up in a halfway house upon release where they can try to rebuild their lives from there.

    There are charitable organizations that try to accomplish the same goals for the homeless but they can hardly service them all. If someone here in the USA truly wants to help those homeless that want to help themselves, they should make donations to such organizations. If you end up homeless here, you drop off of the radar, and there's no "pulling yourself up from your bootstraps" because of the reasons I cited in my previous post.
     
  10. Alex_Str

    Alex_Str Banned

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    Why do you feel guilty? If some idiot is too lazy to get off his *** and get a high-school diploma and/or a real job at Costco or McDonalds, then he doesn't deserve my hard earned money. Here in America we pay homeless people monthly salaries for gods sake. If they can't use it wisely, they deserve to be homeless and should stop begging people for their money.
     
  11. Pierrot le Fou

    Pierrot le Fou IncGamers Member

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    Uh, how exactly can you pay a homeless person a salary? Where exactly will the check be sent to? Or is there a magical government agent carefully recording which homeless folks he handed out their monthly wad of cash to?

    I'm not positive about this Pain, but I'm pretty sure that you can designate a homeless shelter as an address in terms of receiving mail and the like. If you can't, then why isn't there an organization that does the same thing? All you need is a small physical place with a computer that people can get mail sent to and report as their address, so long as they register with you and visit regularly to pick it up.

    You could also help people get identification and the like, make pamphlets or something.

    Stick a few of those in major cities and I think it would help, though I think those services are already covered by other organizations.
     
  12. Painman

    Painman IncGamers Member

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    It's a tad more complicated than just registering an address for receiving mail, I think. That may get you access to a monthly government stipend, but that doesn't address issues such as having a place to store clean clothes to go to work in, should you happen to land a job. Any organization wishing to realize such a goal requires real estate, which is at its most expensive in the areas that it's most needed for such a purpose.

    Hell, I admit that I could and should know more about the organizations working to solve the problems of the homeless myself, and how they help, but like many others, I've got to worry about keeping myself afloat and that doesn't leave much left for charity right now. But I don't like the callous attitude that some people have re: the homeless, not too many people *choose* to eat out of dumpsters, sleep under viaducts and get shaken down by street thugs looking to take advantage. It's a very rough life.
     
  13. Pierrot le Fou

    Pierrot le Fou IncGamers Member

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    I am a staunch proponent of homeless rights too. I think that they face a lot of problems with that first step too. I refuse to give money to people with a cup out who do nothing. If a homeless person tries to talk to me, I will ask them about what they've done recently to try to get a job, or change their situation, and from there make the decision about whether or not to give them any money.

    Usually I will get ignored after a while because I'm taking up their precious pan-handling time. Otherwise I'll toss them a few bucks because they generally are uniquely trying to get on the right track.

    I think that my karma has paid off, as I was in an ATM in Boston one night and said hi to the homeless guy sleeping in there, and as I left and forgot to take my card, he ran after me to give it back, and the only thing he asked for in return was to let him back into the ATM where all his stuff was.

    The callous attitude does suck. But a lot of people (myself included) have a lot of bad experiences with the homeless. Not to say they're all bad, but I certainly think the percentage is a tad skewed, and as you said, most of us have a lot of other stuff we have to worry about first.
     
  14. Drosselmeier

    Drosselmeier IncGamers Member

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    One importaint thing to remember is that a lot of homeless people have mental problems. It´s not always just a matter of cleaning up and having an adress. Sometimes there are other issues keeping people from straightening their life out.
    If a person commits a crime while insane, temporarily or more permanently, you don´t hold that person responsible to the same degree as a sane person who is guilty of the same crime. In the same way, you can´t really expect a person with mental problems living on the street to sort out his or her problems without real help. How anyone can hold a person like that responsible for their own fortune is beyond me.

    It often goes beyond helping people apply for jobs and giving them a place to sleep and wash up.
     
  15. Painman

    Painman IncGamers Member

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    Indeed it does, my father can attest to this - he spent the twilight of his pharmacy career with the VA (Veterans Administration) hospital in Boston administering a heroin addiction therapy program to homeless veterans there. These guys didn't end up on the street because they decided they wanted to get hooked on junk, they ended up on the street and addicted to junk because they were rendered dysfunctional in other ways (in most cases, their combat experiences). This type of homelessness disgusts me most of all. Here are these guys who went and served their country honorably, and risked their necks, and we let them fester out in the gutter in return.

    :rant:
     
  16. pixelpowder

    pixelpowder IncGamers Member

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    Sadly this is indeed often the case and homeless people spend a large part of their small income on booze / drugs or other. This is human nature, though. In fact, to understand how this can happen, imagine the following situation : your school / boss / parents (chose according to the situation) gives you 3 hours extra free time to read a book or finish a fulfilling task on your own and without supervision. Well, if you consider that there is a remote possibility that you might somehow end up using those 3 hours playing D2 rather than fulfilling whatever task you had to do... then you understand how the homeless person may sometimes end up using your dollars on booze instead of the food he needs :lol:

    Bottom line : when giving something, you must accept the idea that the person will use your gift in their way, however "bad" it may be. And I think you should be happy about that experience, that taught you something about your fellow human beings and their weaknesses :innocent:
     
  17. Drosselmeier

    Drosselmeier IncGamers Member

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    To paraphrase Bill Hicks:

    "-Don´t give him any money Bill. He´s just going to spend it on drooouuuuugs.
    - Well... YEAH. You´ve never been a effing drug addict then. Drugs are pretty important to a drug addict."

    I really don´t care what people spend the money I give them on. It would be nice if they spent it on something wholesome but I don´t hold the homeless to the same moral standard as the more priviliged. Besides, it´s not like they´re going to give up drugs because people refuse to give them money. The money will just come from somewhere else.

    I agree.

    If the motivation for not giving someone a dollar is that they might spend it on drugs, buy them some food then.
     

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