My job involves a lot of driving from client to client, and I see my fair share of panhandlers. Here are a few tips, in case you happen to be a panhandler at home tonight surfing the internetz, and would like me to drop you a quarter or something tomorrow.
1. Having a skill is useful. Play an instrument. Sing. Juggle. Standing there shaking a cup in my face does not make me want to give you money. My favorite two panhandlers are the guy who plays the spoons on Ste. Catherine street, and Loud Singing Guy. Loud Singing Guy sings around one of the university downtown - he wears an old suit and tie and tapes his music to the wall. He sings standards. Very loudly. And pourly. But with heart, and I love that.
2. Stay out of the traffic. My least favorite panhandlers are the squeegie kids and others who accost me while I'm in my car. This is my space. Step off. I politely decline with a wave and a smile, and usually these guys move on to the next car since the red light is only so long and why waste time with someone who isn't gonna give you anything? The worst part is that whenever I have allowed a squeegie to squeegie me (back in my more youthful and less cynical days) this stench of cigarettes and BO always got sucked in through the vents.
3. Do not use helpless dogs to try and get my sympathy. I just feel bad for the dogs who are stuck with you as an owner. PS: I am a dog walker and usually have treats in my pocket, so if you try to use a dog to get something out of me, chances are all you're gonna get is a snack for your pup.
4. Do not get a homeless person's advocate group to advertise that you make an average of $10 per hour panhandling to people in cars on Notre Dame Blvd. That is more than minimum wage. That does not make me want to help you out.
Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I have blogged about this subject before at some point. I just feel so bad for the people who are out there because they have to be, or don't know what else to do. Because I'm sure I'm not the only person who has become jaded by the guy down the street begging for a quarter for a sandwich who still reeks of whiskey.