Monday, February 10, 2014

1290 Panhandling in the Parking Lot

Well, not only in the parking lot, but that’s a good start.

First let’s clear up what panhandling is and what it isn’t.

Panhandling is putting someone in a position where he feels bad if he doesn’t donate.  Bad or embarrassed.

So if you give a guy on the street a couple of bucks for food, that’s cool. Even if the money doesn’t go for food.

When a bunch of excited high school kids hold up or wave “Car Wash” signs and flirt with motorists at the red light, that’s not panhandling, that’s paying a little bit for a good cause … and it’s entertainment for the donor. Plus your car might actually get cleaned.

But when a group you’ve never heard of stands at the train station or in front of the big box store and rattles a can for a donation to their “fight against” this or that… THAT’s panhandling.  

When a cashier asks if you’d if you’d “like to donate to such-and-such” and there you are paying for your groceries and the people on the line are your friends and neighbors…  THAT’s panhandling.

You feel like a jerk if you don’t say “yes,” and you feel like a bigger jerk if you want to contribute but can’t even though you know and like the organization’s cause and have supported it in the past.

Okay, a few bucks is not going to kill you.  But who wants to be in that position.

The money’s not the point.  It’s the exposure.
Of course, the kids shaking cans or waving signs for the high school booster club or the fight against hunger or against drugs or whatever could take some tips from the real pros… the people who panhandle huge sums for the hospital expansion or the renovation of the 200 year old poetry building, that crumbling eyesore on whatever college campus is in your city.

And professional panhandlers -- the kind that raise those big contributions -- are likely to corner their prey in private and embarrass them quietly.

Oh… they call themselves development officials, not panhandlers.  But the only difference is the amount of the contribution and the price of the clothing they wear.

Sure, give or don’t give as and to whom you see fit.  But some of us would rather see a can with a slot than a teen with a table or waving a hand lettered sign on a big piece of oak tag.


-- Olympics, Olympics, Olympics, opening ceremony screwup, olympics olympics, olympics.  Okay, heard enough?  Good, now let’s get on to something real… maybe a Kardashian, Pope Francis or some yet to be identified celebrity.

--Apparently, the software Snowden used to get to the NSA data was old fashioned and easily available.  Maybe there’s a lesson in that. Anyone still have a copy of Windows 3.0 which hackers no longer bother trying to invade?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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