Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Will Work for Food...

Anyone who lives in a semi populated area has seen them.

Those guys (and gals) who sit on the center median at stop lights, or on the left shoulder on off-ramps, holding signs with phrases such as

"WILL WORK FOR FOOD."

"SPARE CHANGE PLEASE."

"ANYTHING HELPS. GOD BLESS."

or some other such words to the effect of "Give me some money for sitting here on my ass looking pitiful."

I tend to ignore these people when I'm off duty, and run them off my roadway when I'm on duty.

I refuse to give someone one red cent to put toward their next drink or drug purchase. If I see someone who appears to genuinely need the help, I will sometimes offer to bring them a meal. This is when they show their true colors. Many of them will try to convince you to just give them money so they can "go get food later". If you insist, they get mad and go on to the next sucker.

I saw a guy once at the entrance to a shopping center in a neighboring city who was holding a "Disabled Vet" type sign. This fellow had a certain look of true despair. He did not look like a drunk or an addict. He looked hungry. I drove around the block to McDonald's and bought a Big-Mac meal, then I went back around, and without a word, handed the bag to him. The guy thanked me profusely, then sat down and proceeded to wolf that meal faster than I have ever seen a person eat. That was worth the time and the little bit of money that it cost me.

More recently, I noticed a young man of about 20 sitting on a median in the city where I grew up. He was holding a sign that read "DISABLED VIETNAM VET. HUNGRY AND HOMELESS." I couldn't resist. I had to stop and chat him up.

I said "Vietnam vet huh?"

He said "Yup."

"What unit?"

"First Air Cav."

"Really? What was your MOS?"

"My what?"

"Your MOS. Your job."

"Oh. I flew helicopters."

"Wow! Hueys?"

"Ummm, yeah."

"How many tours?"

"How many what?"

"How many tours? How many times did you go over?"

"Oh. Just one."

"So you were First Air Cav in Nam? How old are you dude?"

"22."

"Oh. So you're telling me you're twenty-two years old, and you served in a war that ended thirty-four years ago?"

"Huh?"

"Do you even know where Vietnam is?"

At that point he got all indignant and didn't want to talk to me anymore. Just because I called his bluff. The truly sad part is that so many people were stopping and giving him money, and either buying his story or completely ignoring the obvious inaccuracy of it.

Maybe if he said "Iraq Vet" it'd be a little more believable...

Not that I'd be any more likely to give him anything...

16 comments:

TK said...

In a North Eastern-ish city in Ohio, we had one of those guys who would sit outside our WalMart. My Hubby chatted him up one day telling him that WalMart was hiring. The guy told Hubby that he made more money sitting on that corner than he would if he got a real job.

I agree though, I'd give food to hungry ones and nothing to anyone else.

*Goddess* said...

Oh, you clever cops! You manage to get the truth one way or another:) I wonder, though, if anyone actually requires the people who will "work" for food to work? And more importantly, would they do it:)?

Roanoke Cop said...

I ran through an Arby's drive through and got a big roast beef sandwich meal and gave it to a guy holding a sign. He sat down and started inhaling it. Like you, I would never give them money because they will buy alcohol or drugs with it. I'll feed them food though.

Officer Wright said...

Had a guy about my age come up to me at a gas station before. He asked if I could spare a couple dollars so he could buy some food. I told him I had no cash on me. He asked a couple other people there, and was denied. As my pump shut off, I saw him just standing there, with a look of defeat. I could tell he was hungry and not just another junkie. I went up to him and told him to get something out of the convenience store and I'd buy it for him. Guy was humble enough to get the cheapest thing too, so I told him to grab a drink with it as well. He grabbed a powerade. I've never seen someone enjoy a lunchable and powerade as much as he did.

Front Porch Society said...

Just once did I give one of those type of people food. And he was the most thankful person ever.

And I have run into more than one person working a different story on different sides of the city before. And boy, do they get pissed when I call them out on it right in front of everyone about to give them money. :)

I have no sympathy for lazy people who sit around and beg for money all day instead of gettin off their asses and finding work. There is always work to be had somewhere. Hell, if ex-felons can get jobs, I am sure they can too.

Do have one story about when I lived in Memphis. My friend owned a construction company. And she would drive down to "homeless row" and pick up a few of the homeless men. They would work all day doing construction work, get a free lunch, and a little bit of cash at the end of the day. One homeless guy changed his life around thanks to her helping him - he is now working fulltime and renting a small shack of a place. But he is no longer "homeless."

Sabra said...

I do generally give a little money when I have it. I'd rather give it where it's not needed than not give where it is. (I do not question anyone who does differently, as I'm too well aware that I'm probably being taken a good portion of the time.)

Damsel Underdressed said...

I believe people create their own hardships in life so for the most part, I have no sympathy for those people that sit and ask for money.

However, I do realize that some people may have mental illness or other reasons for their situations so I admire you guys for taking the time to actually bring a meal to those in need.

Front Porch...that was a great story about the guy who was able to turn his life around because of one person's generosity. Very inspiring and uplifting. Thanks for sharing that. :)

Officer "Smith" said...

*Goddess* said...

Oh, you clever cops! You manage to get the truth one way or another:)

Oddly enough, I wasn't on duty when I had that discussion.

TK said...

FPS: That story is AWESOME!!!! I seriously teared up when I read that. :) Nice to see people still doing some good out there. :)

Front Porch Society said...

My friend is definitely a better person than I am. I admire her for what she does.

Black Ice said...

I was homeless at 18. I did some things to survive that I'm not too proud of...but I NEVER harmed an innocent person, and I sure as hell never begged.

There's such a thing as dignity, and too many people don't know what that is any more. :(

(PS: The verification word is "recon." Thought some vets might find that amusing. :) )

powdergirl said...

That was a really nice thing to do.

Mad Jack said...

I'm glad you bought them food. I'll buy food for the homeless and have bought gasoline for a poor woman with a car full of kids who was up against it. Once, many years back, I was in Colorado Springs, CO and we gave a teenager dinner and a place to sleep. The poor kid was really up against it.

Some of the homeless people are mentally ill - your 22 year old Vietnam vet likely had some mental problems. Others are just lazy.

*Goddess* said...

Oddly enough, I wasn't on duty when I had that discussion.

Yeah, like you guys are ever off duty:)

Mr. Police Man said...

I can't stand these "lame ducks" eaither. One approached me when I had my 3 kids alone with me. As he rounded the rear bumper of my car I was already bladed and said, "NO!" He then threw some cuss words my way and walked away.

TRUE COLORS!

Teri said...

Love the blog.

I have had people ask me for money for food, but turn down the snack food I was carrying in my purse. Must not have been all that hungry after all. I've had people ask me to buy them meals at Applebee's when I offered to get something from Mickey D's. The one that takes the cake, though, was a woman who asked me for money in a grocery store parking lot. I asked what she wanted it for, thinking that I would buy her something to eat from the store if she was hungry, but I wasn't about to give her any money. Her answer? "I need it for cig- uh, tobacco. For my asthma." Really? Wow, in all that time getting my biology degree, they never once covered nicotine as a bronchodilator! Who knew that all those people giving themselves cancer were really just treating their asthma! It's not a smoker's cough! Honest, it's just asthma! Guess what, I didn't give her any money.