Etiquette Hell

Etiquette School is in session! => Complete Silence => Topic started by: USC_Gamecock on May 12, 2011, 03:26:50 PM

Title: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: USC_Gamecock on May 12, 2011, 03:26:50 PM
My usual rule with panhandlers is "Don't engage the crazy."  I use the term loosely, as in they're crazy to be asking strangers for money when it's generally against the law in most areas.

I popped out of my workplace a few minutes ago to grab a soda from a store across the street, and was stuck at the traffic light waiting to cross the street.  A panhandler approached, asking me for money.  I did not respond and ignored him completely.  Another woman standing nearby clucked with disapproval and then loudly said TO THE PANHANDLER "It's got to be frustrating when people don't even acknowledge you."  I turned around, shot her a death glare, and then walked on (the light had changed by that point).

1)  Was I rude not to acknowledge the panhandler?
2)  Is there anything polite I could have said to the woman?
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: gollymolly2 on May 12, 2011, 03:32:53 PM
In my opinion, it's basically retaliatory rudeness not to acknowledge someone who's speaking to you, even if they're bothering you.  It's the same reason why I say "I'm not interested, thank you" before hanging up on a telemarketer.  Of course you don't have to give the panhandler money or have an extended interaction with him or her, but I think it's only polite to acknowledge that another human being is speaking to you.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Hillia on May 12, 2011, 03:33:22 PM
Yeah, I think a little bit rude to not even acknowledge his existence (assuming he approached you in a polite manner, and moved away when he realized you weren't going to give him anything).   These folks are human beings, and until proven dangerous/unpleasant I don't see why you can't say 'Sorry, no', just 'no', or even just shake your head.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Ceiling Fan on May 12, 2011, 03:39:31 PM
I agree. It seems rude to not acknowledge somone's existence and  decide they are 'crazy' based on nothing.

I find it interesting that you were willing to engage rude woman, when you couldn't even bring yourself to look at a panhandler.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mikayla on May 12, 2011, 03:41:30 PM
My only disagreement with the OP is using the term "engaging the crazy" about a panhandler.  (But then I don't particularly like the phrase, and I also think it's misused at times). 

Otherwise, no I don't think you needed to acknowledge him.  This section wouldn't exist if silence wasn't an ehell-approved option, and I don't think it's rude to not respond to a stranger asking for money. 

As for the nosy woman, I don't see rudeness in not acknowledging her, either. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: ShadesOfGrey on May 12, 2011, 03:45:20 PM
I dont think you were necessarily rude, though I would have given a shake of the head or something, but no direct eye contact.

It's not rude to not acknowledge soliciations, it's just like being in the mall and being accosted by a kiosk person, no need to engage.  It's not a social transaction, frankly.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: shhh its me on May 12, 2011, 03:46:38 PM
  I don't think you were rude , yes homeless , the poor and/or panhandlers are people and I think you would to say excuse me if a panhandler was standing in your path or I'm sorry if you bumped into one.  Asking strangers for money is overally intmate and rude( I forgive it and actually normally give a bit to panhandlers) but it's still rude you don't have to acknowledge rudeness.  I think you can also ignore compliments , religious comments  and/or political suggestions.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fleur-de-Lis on May 12, 2011, 03:51:43 PM
My feeling is that most of the time a panhandler will get a "sorry" or a head shake if they directly approach me.  

But as many as there are, I could spend my whole trip apologizing to the stream of people who want a donation.  

Insofar as I have neither desire nor sufficient funds to contribute to all of them, yes, I ignore most of them.  Especially the ones who are having animated conversations with invisible people.  

I feel bad for them, but we are not in a true social situation; they are trying to insert themselves into my present situation.

Yes, I understand they want to be noticed/acknowledged.  Having a socially acceptable alternative to interacting with all of them is probably part of what has driven our uber-connected life - we can ignore the panhandler if our attention is on our iPod or our Blackberry.  

And some of them are genuinely not sane.  

Frankly, it can be a risk to engage any of them - there is no way to know if the one you engage is going to suddenly feel a need to fling anything from insults to feces at you.  

It's a horrific societal problem which etiquette alone cannot solve.

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fluffy Cat on May 12, 2011, 04:00:45 PM
I'm sorry if some think its rude to not acknowledge a panhandler, but I'm not doing it anymore.  I've found that it is too likely that any interaction with some of them will lead to them being encouraged, or harassing me, or sexually harassing me, or threatening me.  I can't always tell which ones ahead of time.

I do acknowledge the ones that hold the door open for me at the store.  I've never encountered a problem with any of them before and they are engaging in a relatively positive interaction.  I'll usually give them my change on the way out.

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: KatPsych on May 12, 2011, 04:03:00 PM
 I don't think you were rude , yes homeless , the poor and/or panhandlers are people and I think you would to say excuse me if a panhandler was standing in your path or I'm sorry if you bumped into one.  Asking strangers for money is overally intmate and rude( I forgive it and actually normally give a bit to panhandlers) but it's still rude you don't have to acknowledge rudeness.  I think you can also ignore compliments , religious comments  and/or political suggestions.

This is pretty much how I feel as well.  I used to always respond in some way, but I eventually found that for every 2 people who would politely withdraw there was 1 who would become either belligerent or overly persistent.  Both of those made me uncomfortable as a relatively young woman.  I found, after living downtown and walking to and from work in a city with many panhandlers, that the best response was generally silence.  Many of them would take any kind of response as an invitation to badger me or try to make me feel guilty.  I found that not responding almost always led to them ignoring me or not pursuing me.

That being said, I would respond to some.  One gentleman in particular was always holding a sign in the same place along my route to work.  Every morning he said hello to me and I always responded nicely back.  Same if I was approached by a person who was polite in his/her request and respected my personal space -- I would often respond.  But the typical MO was for a person to try to use their physical presence to intimidate me by standing too close and refusing to let me get away with a polite refusal, hence why I started ignoring so many.

So no, I don't think it is rude to refuse to acknowledge a person who is inserting himself (or herself) to make a request for money.  Particularly if that person is not doing so in a polite or respectful way.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fluffy Cat on May 12, 2011, 04:07:00 PM
 I don't think you were rude , yes homeless , the poor and/or panhandlers are people and I think you would to say excuse me if a panhandler was standing in your path or I'm sorry if you bumped into one.  

Yes!  I can't speak for the OP, but I always acknowledge anybody when it comes to normal social interaction.  We have one man who often sleeps on our steps, and if he says excuse me or sorry because he's in our way, I respond.  Its the requests for money I don't acknowledge.  I don't acknowledge catcalls either, but that doesn't mean I don't say excuse me if I bump into a young man.  :)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: MrsJWine on May 12, 2011, 04:08:51 PM
I used to live in a city where one particular street was pretty much lined with panhandlers and buskers.  If I'd stopped and said, "I'm sorry" to every single one of them, I'd never be able to have a conversation with a friend while walking down that street.

One lone panhandler in broad daylight with lots of people around, I'll acknowledge with a, "No, I'm sorry," or some such.  But in an area where there is one every five feet, or when there aren't a lot of people, or when it's nighttime.  No way, no how.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: shhh its me on May 12, 2011, 04:10:52 PM
   I also answer what I consider normal public small talk unless I get a  "vibe".  So things like "hello, This street is always so flooded , The bus is not normally late to this stop, nice weather , watch out you're about to step in dog poo" etc.. I answer but if the opening line is "spare change?" that's not a greeting, an introduction or small talk.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Red1979 on May 12, 2011, 04:19:49 PM
There's nothing wrong with ignoring a panhandler and that's my preferred method of choice.  I have no idea whether the person might be violent and as a single woman I err on the side of safety.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on May 12, 2011, 04:25:07 PM
There's nothing wrong with ignoring a panhandler and that's my preferred method of choice.  I have no idea whether the person might be violent and as a single woman I err on the side of safety.

You could say that of anybody though, panhandler doesn't equal violent.  In fact homeless people are disproportionately likely to be victims of violence.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: SamiHami on May 12, 2011, 04:29:21 PM
Absolutely NOT rude to ignore him.  You are not bound by etiquette to acknowledge strangers that approach you, particularly begging for money.

As for the woman who commented, she should be ignored as well.  Technically she wasn't addressing you.  There would be no point in  responding to her anyway.

Your behavior was faultless.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fluffy Cat on May 12, 2011, 04:32:05 PM
There's nothing wrong with ignoring a panhandler and that's my preferred method of choice.  I have no idea whether the person might be violent and as a single woman I err on the side of safety.

You could say that of anybody though, panhandler doesn't equal violent.  In fact homeless people are disproportionately likely to be victims of violence.

They've already shown themselves willing to violate one social norm of society (asking for money from a stranger), so my risk of interaction with them is higher than with the average stranger.  Then I add in my total history with interacting with panhandlers and the risk goes up again.  Then I add in any particular vibe I'm getting from the individual themselves.  I think the same thing about catcallers. It's sad that the homeless are at such a risk of violence, but that doesn't effect my risk assessment for my safety at all.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Red1979 on May 12, 2011, 04:38:35 PM
There's nothing wrong with ignoring a panhandler and that's my preferred method of choice.  I have no idea whether the person might be violent and as a single woman I err on the side of safety.

You could say that of anybody though, panhandler doesn't equal violent.  In fact homeless people are disproportionately likely to be victims of violence.

I work in NYC.  I have seen many, many homeless people of both the non-violent and the violent kind.  I don't find the need to cage my bets and *hope* I got the non-violent one. 

If you are standing on the street begging for money, then no you don't require my response.  Typically the people begging are men quite larger than myself.  If a man who is a larger size than me asks me inappropriate questions--I ignore them.  It's very simple.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: alice on May 12, 2011, 04:53:01 PM
My son used to take our light rail train into the city to hop on the Patco line into Phila each day for school.  Walking from the light rail to the Patco he encountered the same man almost everyday who asked him for cigarettes and change. 

My son, taught to be polite, at first said sorry, no.  I don't smoke, and I don't have any change.  This went on for  a few weeks.  My son, when approached by this man again one morning, finally had enough.  He stopped and said the man "I have been telling you for weeks that I don't smoke, and I don't have change". 

He further went on to tell the man that if he would spend this time into trying to locate some work, he would not have to stand around all day asking for money.  My son did not say it in a condescending tone-he really is good natured, and naive at heart, and thought this was something that the man needed to hear.  The man nodded his head and walked away.

My son thought he had done his good deed (we had since explained it to him) and felt better.  The next day, the man approached him again asking the same question.  My son was confused.  He started wearing his ear buds and ignoring the man after that.

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fluffy Cat on May 12, 2011, 04:57:57 PM
Just this Monday, my husband made the mistake of engaging with a panhandler outside of the restaraunt we were entering.  When he refused to give him money the man made vulgar gestures at me and stormed off.  20 minutes later he entered the crowded restaraunt and made a beeline toward DH whose back was facing the door. I warned him he was coming so DH got up, turned around and tried to keep the guy from getting physical.  Meanwhile I went over and got the owner and between the two of them, they had to physically remove him from the restaraunt.  :(  

Yes, I know not all homeless/panhandlers are like this.  I used to work security in a mall, and we had some that we knew to remove right away, some we watched carefully, and many we just let do their thing (without the panhandling) because we had a good history with them.

The problem is, when you live downtown, stories like the above are not infrequent, (even if they do constitute the minority) and are a genuine concern.  Lesser problems like harassment (I've been followed for blocks being screamed at for politely refusing to give away a cigarette) and sexual harassment are even less infrequent.  

And again, I absolutely do interact with the homeless/panhandlers when it comes to the usual social niceities. That is whole different ballgame and they deserve the same respect as everyone else - no more, no less.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Yvaine on May 12, 2011, 05:05:23 PM
Absolutely NOT rude to ignore him.  You are not bound by etiquette to acknowledge strangers that approach you, particularly begging for money.

I agree with this. I won't make eye contact and then turn up my nose or anything--it's more a polite fiction that I haven't noticed them or haven't noticed they're speaking to me in particular. I don't see anything rude about acting as though I'm in my own bubble and haven't heard. (Especially since in my town it's the same 4-5 guys every time, and most of them have been openly rude to me over the years. There's the guy who called me a female dog, there's the one who's racist, there's the one who grabbed me when I said no, etc. I'm more likely to engage a panhandler I don't recognize, and have at times given money or food to people who were polite about it.)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on May 13, 2011, 05:40:36 AM
He further went on to tell the man that if he would spend this time into trying to locate some work, he would not have to stand around all day asking for money.  My son did not say it in a condescending tone-he really is good natured, and naive at heart, and thought this was something that the man needed to hear.  The man nodded his head and walked away.

My son thought he had done his good deed (we had since explained it to him) and felt better.  The next day, the man approached him again asking the same question.  My son was confused.  He started wearing his ear buds and ignoring the man after that.



I'm sure your son meant to be kind, but he might want to read up on how incredibly difficult it actually is for people to get back into work and stability once they have got into the cycle of homelessness.  Also, how homeless people are far more likely to have mental health issues than the general public which may be what was going on there, or it may have been that the man was in a busy spot, saw thousands of people go by each day and just didn't remember what your son looked like!

Edit: Just spotted the line about explaining it to him, never mind!
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Firecat on May 22, 2011, 07:36:19 PM
I don't typically acknowledge panhandlers, either, for all of the reasons mentioned above. In my experience, a significant number will take any interaction as a reason to continue to ask, try to make me feel guilty, get threatening, etc.

I work in the downtown area of my city and have for many years now. And for quite a long time, a stranger approaching me likely fell into one of three categories. They were most likely going to: 1) ask me for money, 2) push their particular brand of religion, or 3) try to pick me up. So I pretty much started ignoring approaches from strangers, except for maybe a headshake followed by moving away unless they move away first. I don't think it's retaliatory rudeness, I think it's self-protection.

Frankly, I think that someone approaching a woman on the street and expecting a "nice" response is at best a bit naive, and at worst has intentions I want nothing to do with, and I'm not going to take the chance if I can help it. 

Very rarely I'd get someone asking for directions, and if they started with, "Excuse me, can you tell me where X is," and I didn't get a creepy vibe, I'd try to point them in the right direction. Otherwise, I'd just say, "Sorry, no," without slowing down.

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: BuffaloFang on May 31, 2011, 07:58:16 AM
Once a panhandler came up to my husband and I and asked for a dollar.  My husband said, "No, I'm sorry." and the panhandler yelled back, "You better be sorry!" and followed us three blocks down the road.  

Another time in France a panhandler came up, and since we didn't speak French well, my DH just shook his head.  The panhandler then grabbed my husband's pocket and shook it, making the change rattle.  My DH shook his head again, and the panhandler put up his fists like he wanted to fight.  Luckily DH refused to engage and the guy just walked away.  I guess DH just draws the crazies...maybe that's why he's married to me  ;D

So, no, I don't think it's rude to ignore them.  I usually still shake my head or just say "Sorry", but it's kind of reflexive for me to acknowlege people who speak to me.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: ladiedeathe on May 31, 2011, 08:51:44 AM
It is absolutely not rude to simply ignore the complete existance of a panhandler- it IS rude to notice when someone is behaving rudely or boorishly, and approaching stangers in public to ask for change is both rude and boorish.

I spent a long time working in the inner city; long enough to know some of the pan handlers. While some are great folks, and will immediately back off to a "no" or head shake, many many others are mentally ill, dangerous, or just determined to get the cash and willing to scare you a little to get it. Some work in teams with muggers- the panhandler gets you to open purse or wallet, or to be distracted while scooping through pockets, and the mugger grabs the purse or wallet and runs.

There is no world in which a begger I did not ask to approach me, and do not wish to speak to, gets to "demand" a polite response. He or she receives the cut direct.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: jillybean on May 31, 2011, 09:03:22 AM
Frankly, I think that someone approaching a woman on the street and expecting a "nice" response is at best a bit naive, and at worst has intentions I want nothing to do with, and I'm not going to take the chance if I can help it. 

This.  I live in the big bad city, and I really wonder what people are thinking when they approach a lone woman in a parking lot and ask for money.  It just seems ludicrous to me that anyone would expect me to whip my wallet out for a stranger randomly approaching me.  I have no idea whether they honestly just want a handout or are going to try to snatch my wallet from me.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Hollanda on May 31, 2011, 01:39:15 PM
I usually say something to the effect of "I'm sorry, I have no cash at the moment" and then walk off, quickly. That way, I am acknowledging them but not giving them anything or promising anything. Simply stating a fact.

I have been at our train station and been asked for money several times by the same person. There are clear signs stating "No begging permitted" and if someone is begging overtly, they will be asked to leave by the traffic police. I am polite, but firm in saying "I'm sorry, but no." If pushed, though, I will be more abrupt, especially when in a rush to catch a train. I do not give money to beggars, ever. Just a personal thing...
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Ms_Shell on May 31, 2011, 01:52:14 PM
My vote is not rude.  It's not a social interaction - the request for money turns it into a business transaction, IMO.  I also ignore people trying to sell timeshares and persistent kiosk owners. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Hollanda on May 31, 2011, 01:57:48 PM
My vote is not rude.  It's not a social interaction - the request for money turns it into a business transaction, IMO.  I also ignore people trying to sell timeshares and persistent kiosk owners. 

After our recent holiday experience with timeshare owners, DF and I have learned our lesson. Once these people get their claws into you, they will not let you go. Ever. They will charm, wheedle, whine, whinge, beg...anything to get you to back down. Just ignoring them in the first place would have stopped us wasting an hour of our lives that we will never get back!!  ::)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: O'Dell on May 31, 2011, 02:03:29 PM
Absolutely NOT rude to ignore him.  You are not bound by etiquette to acknowledge strangers that approach you, particularly begging for money.

As for the woman who commented, she should be ignored as well.  Technically she wasn't addressing you.  There would be no point in  responding to her anyway.

Your behavior was faultless.

Well said. I agree.

I think if a person does decide to acknowledge a stranger, or in this case panhandler, then they should not be rude to them. Doesn't mean that a person can't refuse to give them money or assistance, but the message needs to be conveyed politely.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Nurvingiel on June 01, 2011, 03:31:48 PM
You're not required to respond to all questions directed your way. I'm sure you had your reasons for simply ignoring the panhandler. In some areas it can be a source of aggravation to engage with a panhandler, in others not.

In my city, panhandlers ask you for money politely and leave you alone if you say no. They may wish you a good day. Not all cities have panhandlers as nice as we do. (Insert joke about faultlessly polite Canadians here.) Because of this, I always respond to panhandlers here, usually just verbally but I don't carry cash so I have nothing to give them.

You're also not required to respond to sanctimonious jerks who talk about you as if you are not there.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Blithe on June 02, 2011, 01:01:53 AM
I vote not rude.  Not all panhandlers are dangerous, but many are and it is difficult to know ahead of time if you are dealing with someone who will turn nasty.  I speak as someone who tried to be nice to a panhandler who seemed like a nice person (had offered assistance with something) and give him the small amount of money I happened to have in my pocket at the time.  It came to a little more than 3 dollars and my initial thought was that it was fortunate that I had money that I could access without opening my purse.  The man then became belligerent, getting in my face and telling me that I was ungrateful, unappreciative, snobby, racist and that I needed to open my purse and give him more money.   I was young and naive at the time, but I had promised my father that I would never open my purse or wallet to give a panhandler money.  He wouldn't leave me alone, I didn't get away from him until two Mormon missionaries came up and asked if I needed help.  He claimed that we were just talking, but they distracted him enough for me to get away.

Now, several years later, I do not typically give money to panhandlers or acknowledge them with more than a quick shake of my head (if that).  If this is rude well, SAFETY TRUMPS ETIQUETTE.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: TeamBhakta on June 02, 2011, 01:56:13 AM
I don't consider it rude to not answer a pan handler. I lived in a city with agressive pan handlers + lots of tourists. Giving money or food encouraged them to approach more people. Politely saying no resulted in rude, agressive responses. The pan handlers knew that anyone who ignored them was local and anyone who answered "yes" or "no" was a tourist. In which case they'd get agressive and follow said tourists down the street shouting "you won't give to me ? why ? you're so mean  >:( "
*ETA: One time a pan handler approached me and said "I want gold earrings. Give some to me."  :o Never mind I was only wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not carrying a purse or anything of value and didn't have pierced ears.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Reuth on June 18, 2011, 12:14:37 PM
I used to live in a downtown area, and one night there was a knock on the door. We didn't have a peephole but we had a window beside the door. I looked out and saw a strange man there, who asked me for money! I told him no and he started swearing at me. He was gone before the police got there, though.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: mathcat on June 26, 2011, 11:17:16 PM
Not all panhandlers are dangerous.  Some can be though.  After being mugged and ....... but at least ran across an undercover officer before things got worse, I have no intention of ever interacting with a panhandler again.  If I choose to give assistance, I will do so to organizations that help those in need.  I will not respond to uninvited contact by someone asking me for money.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: AlwaysQuizzical on July 06, 2011, 09:45:36 PM
I just walk by panhandlers on the street without acknowledging them at all. I don't consider it rude, they're out there to get money and I'm not going to give it to them. So any time I spent talking to them would be a waste of their time and could put me in a dangerous situation once they know for sure I won't give them money. I think if you stop and say something then they think if they put more pressure on you they may be able to get something after all. I also avoid customer service in shops that I'm just curious about and not set to spend money on.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Aquamarine on August 26, 2011, 05:56:23 PM
I'm sorry if some think its rude to not acknowledge a panhandler, but I'm not doing it anymore.  I've found that it is too likely that any interaction with some of them will lead to them being encouraged, or harassing me, or sexually harassing me, or threatening me.  I can't always tell which ones ahead of time.

I do acknowledge the ones that hold the door open for me at the store.  I've never encountered a problem with any of them before and they are engaging in a relatively positive interaction.  I'll usually give them my change on the way out.

Yup.  I don't acknowledge panhandlers either, you never know what you're going to get when you interact even for the briefest moment.  Someone sticking their hand out expecting strangers to hand over their hard earned cash IMHO deserves complete silence.  It's interesting how these people are always asking for money, but they never ask me if I have any jobs that they could do.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Hillia on August 26, 2011, 06:48:32 PM
After observing my own behavior with some regular panhandlers at an intersection I drive through daily, I would like to offer my apologies to the OP and anyone else I offended by being a sanctimonious prig.

(To save you the trouble, waaaay back on the first or second page I was fairly snotty about 'acknowledging a fellow human being' or something.  I was wrong.)

I do not make eye contact with panhandlers either.  I will shake my head or say 'Sorry' but that's it. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fleur-de-Lis on August 26, 2011, 08:01:08 PM
After observing my own behavior with some regular panhandlers at an intersection I drive through daily, I would like to offer my apologies to the OP and anyone else I offended by being a sanctimonious prig.

(To save you the trouble, waaaay back on the first or second page I was fairly snotty about 'acknowledging a fellow human being' or something.  I was wrong.)

I do not make eye contact with panhandlers either.  I will shake my head or say 'Sorry' but that's it. 

I appreciate your courage in posting this.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: still in va on August 26, 2011, 09:25:27 PM
After observing my own behavior with some regular panhandlers at an intersection I drive through daily, I would like to offer my apologies to the OP and anyone else I offended by being a sanctimonious prig.

(To save you the trouble, waaaay back on the first or second page I was fairly snotty about 'acknowledging a fellow human being' or something.  I was wrong.)

I do not make eye contact with panhandlers either.  I will shake my head or say 'Sorry' but that's it. 

I appreciate your courage in posting this.

so do i.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: afbluebelle on August 27, 2011, 04:31:57 PM
The area I grew up in had a LOT of panhandlers, and buskers as well. The rich cities up valley would buy the guys bus tickets to send them out of town, because GJ had a milder winter and they (the panhandlers) were bad for business.

That being said, Some of them were genuinely cool people. GJ has a fairly laid back, groovy vibe to their main street, and there was a group of buskers (3 or 4) that you would see from spring to fall. They wouldn't harass people, just played. My friends and I would kinda hang around these guys, and they were practically a local staple. Over the years we got to know these guys, and they were really...cool, for lack of a better word. During the winter they would go and work part time at the smaller ski resorts (Telluride, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Steamboat Springs, etc) as ski instructors and wait staff. Once the ski season was over, they busked. They all had living areas (shared a decent RV, nothing rock starish, but well kept) They were clean, and talented. They didn't take it personal when people got freaked out, they thought of themselves as performers, just liked the luxury of the open road. Saw them in Moab, Utah and around the area during festival seasons.

Absolutely nothing to do with the story, just really miss those guys. And Speedo Man, but thats just cuz my mom severely disliked him  :P
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Tai on August 27, 2011, 05:27:24 PM
I don't acknowledge ANYONE when I'm out and about.  I am in "mission mode" trying to get something done, and the only people I talk to when I'm out is the cashier tallying up my order.  Other than that, I'm not out for a social reason. 

At the store the other day, someone started following me to the car asking for money.  After the second time I told him I don't have money for him, I told him to stop following me LOUDLY.  Yes, I yelled it.  That's something others may consider rude, but I'm not afraid to draw attention to myself by yelling to get them to go away. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mental Magpie on August 28, 2011, 12:19:01 AM
I don't acknowledge ANYONE when I'm out and about.  I am in "mission mode" trying to get something done, and the only people I talk to when I'm out is the cashier tallying up my order.  Other than that, I'm not out for a social reason. 

At the store the other day, someone started following me to the car asking for money.  After the second time I told him I don't have money for him, I told him to stop following me LOUDLY.  Yes, I yelled it.  That's something others may consider rude, but I'm not afraid to draw attention to myself by yelling to get them to go away.

I don't think it was rude because you told him "no" twice.  Not only are you drawing attention to yourself, but you're drawing eyes that could potentially save you from assault.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on September 03, 2011, 10:41:16 AM
Panhandlers are problematic where I used to live (I'm in a better neighbourhood now, thank goodness) and because of how many there were and how pushy or downright aggressive they could be, I never left my apartment after dark. 

My way of handling them when I saw them, though, was to offer them an alternative to what they were asking me for (always money).  Depended on their story, like if one of them said something like, "I'm really hungry, can you spare some change so I can buy food?" I'd say, "I don't have any cash, but if you'd like I can run into the store and buy you a sandwich."  Or of they said "Have you got any change for the bus?" I'd say, "I don 't have any change, but I can give you a bus ticket."  Over the years, I must have encountered dozens of panhandlers, and over all that time, only ONE ever took me up on my offer.  She was standing outside the grocery store where I used to regularly go to get lunch from the deli.  When I came out, bag in hand, she asked if I had any change to spare, as she hadn't eaten in several days.  She looked it, too.  I said, "I haven't got any change, but I can run into the store and get you something, if you'd like."  She just said anything would be fine, so I went back inside and got her a loaf of bread, a small jar of peanut butter, a packet of plastic knives and a six-pack of mini Sunny Delight, figuring it wasn't great, but it'd all last her for a little while at least, and it beats going hungry.  She wept when I gave it all to her.

She was the ONLY panhandler I've ever encountered that seemed to actually be telling the truth about what she wanted my spare change for.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Cami on September 27, 2011, 12:07:17 PM
I'm sorry if some think its rude to not acknowledge a panhandler, but I'm not doing it anymore.  I've found that it is too likely that any interaction with some of them will lead to them being encouraged, or harassing me, or sexually harassing me, or threatening me.  I can't always tell which ones ahead of time.

I agree 100%.

I once had a job providing services to homeless people and had occasion to have many conversations about the job many of them had --  panhandling. They told me that how they determine who to press for money is based upon their response to the initial "ask". If a person responds, they will usually be able to badger them into giving money. If the person doesn't respond, they will move on to a more likely mark.

I have also found that certain males will use any response -- even a look in their direction -- as "proof" that a female wants their attention.  Once they've decided the female "wants" the attention, they become quite aggressive.  One of my coworkers made the mistake of being polite to a guy on the bus one day and he followed her into work and harassed her for the next six months. All because she said, "Hello" back to him. The cops got involved and we were all told quite emphatically that we all -- but especially the women -- should ignore panhandlers and street people for our own safety.

I'd rather be thought of as rude and be safe.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: MacadamiaNut on October 04, 2011, 04:56:31 PM
The most I will say is sorry and I try not to look them in the eye as I do not want to engage them in any type of extended conversation.  When I see them on the streets and I am in my car, I immediately lock my doors if I have forgotten to do so.  The thing is I always lock my doors because I don't want *any* stranger to be able to just open it when I'm stopped at a light and steal my purse or worse, get in the car!  Like some PPs have said, I also ignore catcalls.

Safety trumps etiquette for me in these types of scenarios.  But honestly, I'm not convinced that ignoring strangers who are invading your space or are being rude to you by asking for money or making snide remarks is actually rude.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Midnight Kitty on October 06, 2011, 06:31:51 PM
I live in the heart of Waikiki, so we get lots of homeless, some of whom are beggars, and lots of tourists.  Not a really good mix.  I regularly take the bus, so I'm forced to wait at a location where the homeless congregate.  They know me by now and the regulars don't pay me any attention because they know they are not going to get a penny from me.  I grew up in a small town, but 21 years in a big city have taught me how to erect an invisible wall.  I can walk down Kalakaua Avenue without even seeing the metal men, party bus barkers, XXX Video distributors, homeless, or pretty much anyone I don't know.  One learns to erect this wall when one lives in a big city in order to allow everyone the illusion of privacy.  Since there are so many people in such close proximity, we need to ignore each other to hang on to the few shreds of sanity we have left.

If someone tries to catch my eye or speak to me, the first thing I think is, "I wonder what s/he wants from me?" :-\
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Hushabye on October 09, 2011, 01:55:00 PM
Not rude.  It's not a social interaction because the panhandler doesn't want to get to know you as a person; the panhandler is after the contents of your wallet (in a mercenary, if not criminal, way).
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: DuBois on October 10, 2011, 03:21:18 AM


I also vote not rude. I never acknowldege beggars (people selling the British magazine The Big Issue, for the homeless, are different.)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Saki_Fiz on November 14, 2011, 11:15:25 PM
Panhandlers are problematic where I used to live (I'm in a better neighbourhood now, thank goodness) and because of how many there were and how pushy or downright aggressive they could be, I never left my apartment after dark. 

My way of handling them when I saw them, though, was to offer them an alternative to what they were asking me for (always money).  Depended on their story, like if one of them said something like, "I'm really hungry, can you spare some change so I can buy food?" I'd say, "I don't have any cash, but if you'd like I can run into the store and buy you a sandwich."  Or of they said "Have you got any change for the bus?" I'd say, "I don 't have any change, but I can give you a bus ticket."  Over the years, I must have encountered dozens of panhandlers, and over all that time, only ONE ever took me up on my offer.  She was standing outside the grocery store where I used to regularly go to get lunch from the deli.  When I came out, bag in hand, she asked if I had any change to spare, as she hadn't eaten in several days.  She looked it, too.  I said, "I haven't got any change, but I can run into the store and get you something, if you'd like."  She just said anything would be fine, so I went back inside and got her a loaf of bread, a small jar of peanut butter, a packet of plastic knives and a six-pack of mini Sunny Delight, figuring it wasn't great, but it'd all last her for a little while at least, and it beats going hungry.  She wept when I gave it all to her.

She was the ONLY panhandler I've ever encountered that seemed to actually be telling the truth about what she wanted my spare change for.

I interned on Capitol Hill as a teenager.  This was the method that many of us interns adopted.  If they truly wanted food, they got it.  Otherwise, nada.  Several of them would take the food though.

Nowadays though, with my teenage sense of immortality no longer in place, I shy away from panhandlers.  I feel guilty doing it, but I figure it's better to donate money to a soup kitchen or food pantry.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on November 15, 2011, 09:19:12 AM
Panhandlers are problematic where I used to live (I'm in a better neighbourhood now, thank goodness) and because of how many there were and how pushy or downright aggressive they could be, I never left my apartment after dark. 

My way of handling them when I saw them, though, was to offer them an alternative to what they were asking me for (always money).  Depended on their story, like if one of them said something like, "I'm really hungry, can you spare some change so I can buy food?" I'd say, "I don't have any cash, but if you'd like I can run into the store and buy you a sandwich."  Or of they said "Have you got any change for the bus?" I'd say, "I don 't have any change, but I can give you a bus ticket."  Over the years, I must have encountered dozens of panhandlers, and over all that time, only ONE ever took me up on my offer.  She was standing outside the grocery store where I used to regularly go to get lunch from the deli.  When I came out, bag in hand, she asked if I had any change to spare, as she hadn't eaten in several days.  She looked it, too.  I said, "I haven't got any change, but I can run into the store and get you something, if you'd like."  She just said anything would be fine, so I went back inside and got her a loaf of bread, a small jar of peanut butter, a packet of plastic knives and a six-pack of mini Sunny Delight, figuring it wasn't great, but it'd all last her for a little while at least, and it beats going hungry.  She wept when I gave it all to her.

She was the ONLY panhandler I've ever encountered that seemed to actually be telling the truth about what she wanted my spare change for.

I interned on Capitol Hill as a teenager.  This was the method that many of us interns adopted.  If they truly wanted food, they got it.  Otherwise, nada.  Several of them would take the food though.

Nowadays though, with my teenage sense of immortality no longer in place, I shy away from panhandlers.  I feel guilty doing it, but I figure it's better to donate money to a soup kitchen or food pantry.

The thing with this is, sometimes the person wants to get enough money together for a sleeping bag in a freezing winter, or for a new pair of shoes as theirs have fallen apart, or for a cheap pay as you go phone so they have a number to give their social worker or for trying to get jobs and places to stay.

I know its not your responsibility to provide them with those things, but I hate to think that people are assuming that if homeless people prefer the money equivalent to the food or the bus ticket, then they will be spending it on drink or drugs.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: alegria on November 22, 2011, 01:40:16 PM
I know its not your responsibility to provide them with those things, but I hate to think that people are assuming that if homeless people prefer the money equivalent to the food or the bus ticket, then they will be spending it on drink or drugs.

People assume this because the likelihood is very, very high that it will be true.  I wouldn't give a panhandler money even if they were asking for it to buy a sleeping bag, because that is very unlikely to be why they want the money.  As far as I am concerned there is no reason to ask a stranger for money - if you have a legitimate need, then there are avenues to help fulfill that need.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on November 22, 2011, 01:47:07 PM
I know its not your responsibility to provide them with those things, but I hate to think that people are assuming that if homeless people prefer the money equivalent to the food or the bus ticket, then they will be spending it on drink or drugs.

People assume this because the likelihood is very, very high that it will be true.  I wouldn't give a panhandler money even if they were asking for it to buy a sleeping bag, because that is very unlikely to be why they want the money.  As far as I am concerned there is no reason to ask a stranger for money - if you have a legitimate need, then there are avenues to help fulfill that need.

Yet so many rough sleepers have sleeping bags!

I do give to a homeless charity regularly, and one of the biggest problems they face is the stereotyping around homelessness.  People end up in awful situations for lots of reasons, it doesn't mean they are all bad people or addicts or any other generalisation. 

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 23, 2011, 09:31:05 AM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

I have over the course of my life learned a sort of sixth sense about who to respond to and who to ignore.  I only give money to people trying to earn it, however pathetic the  result (playing music, singing, dancing, telling jokes, doing magic, etc), straight up begging or making long speeches results in nothing from me, except occasional acknowledgement.

There are a few regular homeless people I see in the course of daily goings.  Some I just immediately got a vibe from that it was ok to say "sorry" to as I passed - and I've been proven right.  One older man in a wheelchair who begs outside of Starbucks and is routinely ignored by people.  I walk by him everyday (I don't go in Starbucks its just on my path) and we now have gotten to the point of exchanging pleasantries - he says "good morning" or "stay warm" or "have a nice day" and I smile and reply in kind.  I don't stop walking or even slow, but I do acknowledge him.  And honestly?  He seems happy just that someone is smiling and seeing him.

There are others though who I just get an aggressive, negative vibe from.  Those people I just walk past with out even turning my head and certainly without responding.

And then there are some who I just sometimes find myself inadvertently giving dirty looks to.  The couple that begs all around the neighborhood but who I see go into Starbucks daily.  *I* can't afford Starbucks daily.  There are coffee carts and delis on every street here, there are more affordable options!  Or the young beggars who smoke.  Cigarettes in NYC cost over $15 a pack, again, *I* can't afford to smoke, I certainly have no intention of supporting someone else's habit and actively resent being asked to do so.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on November 23, 2011, 09:39:22 AM
So the moral of your post WN is that homeless people are just like any other section of society really, a mixed bag!
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Wulfie on November 23, 2011, 10:01:07 AM
I do give to a homeless charity regularly, and one of the biggest problems they face is the stereotyping around homelessness.  People end up in awful situations for lots of reasons, it doesn't mean they are all bad people or addicts or any other generalisation.

No, not all of them are, unfortunately, a huge portion of them are!

I work in low income housing. I cringe inwardly when someone who is homeless applies for my building. 9 out of 10 of them will not pass a standard background screening because of criminal history. Robbery, Rape and Assault show up constantly on their screenings along with major drug crimes (distribution and hardcore drug use are very common).  I cringe because I know they more than likely will not qualify and we can't charge them for the screening which increases our costs. They know that they have the criminal history and still check NO when it asks if they have a record and lie to my face when I ask them (as I do everyone) if there is anything that I need to know about that will show up on their background check and give examples of common rejection items.

We have one lady here in Seattle that sits next to the ferry terminal. She has a sign up asking for help getting home on the ferry. We all know this is not true as she has been there during rush hour every day for the last at least 5 years! She used to go to the community center where I used to work every day for free breakfast and lunch. They had to kick her out finally due to her constant violation of the no drug use on the premises rule. She was also caught more than once earning extra money by playing scrabble, frequently in the day care playground which is fenced off!

 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 23, 2011, 10:18:05 AM
We have one lady here in Seattle that sits next to the ferry terminal. She has a sign up asking for help getting home on the ferry. We all know this is not true as she has been there during rush hour every day for the last at least 5 years!

Many moons ago I used to commute via the rail road.  One day a woman came on begging for some money.  She said she'd been mugged and just needed some cash to get home.  RR tickets are several dollars so I sympathized.  I was a poor student but I gave her some money.

Then a week or so later the same woman came on the same platform with the same story.  I saw someone about to give her money.  I asked loudly "again?  You had the very same story last week when I gave you $3 - why do you keep coming back to the city if you just keep getting mugged and unable to go home?"  The person put away their wallet, she shot me daggers and several of the older, more seasoned commuters stiffled laughter.  I commuted via that train for a few more years - I never saw that woman again.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Isometric on November 23, 2011, 05:23:22 PM
I feel really conflicted about this, one the one hand, I think human nature is to want to help people who are less fortunate. So if I sense they are genuine, I will usually give them a dollar or two.

However, once I was sitting waiting for my husband and a man came up, cornered me and asked for change. I felt a little intimidated so I rummaged for a few coins. BUT he just stood there, looking down at his hand then at me, and said "have you got any more?" Luckily my husband arrived at that point and we left, and husband said he's seen the man at the pub getting wasted quite often.  Now I'm a little more careful!!

Generally though, I do shake my head and say "sorry" if I don't give them money.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: artk2002 on November 24, 2011, 04:20:46 PM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: WillyNilly on November 30, 2011, 04:13:44 PM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on November 30, 2011, 04:21:32 PM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: artk2002 on December 04, 2011, 08:04:05 PM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

I'd buy that, except that my original example of Santa Monica is a tourist city.  It's right on the Pacific coast and gets a lot of tourists visiting SoCal.

Some of it has to do with politics in Santa Monica. If you listen to Harry Shearer's Le Show, he refers to it as "The Home of the Homeless." Not sure what the politics are like in Battleboro.

(By the way, if you liked "This is Spinal Tap," listen to Harry's show -- he was the bass player.)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Fleur-de-Lis on December 05, 2011, 11:10:38 AM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

I don't doubt the *motivation* is there - but how do you solve the problem? Some members of these groups often categorically *do not want* to trade their freedom for "three hots and a cot" in a shelter - even if there were enough shelters to house them. 

Some of them have drug issues/psychoses/PTSD, which makes group living challenging for them.

Who pays for the shelters, the infrastructure - the laundry, the food, the water bill, etc?  Where does the City build these shelters?

The "working agreement" in San Francisco seems to be that the police start requiring the indigents to get up and move along at about 8am, and if you wait until about 6 to head to the train station, there aren't as many indigents about; the working and tourist population has diminished enough that there is no revenue stream. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Larrabee on December 05, 2011, 12:30:30 PM
I live and work in NYC, which actually for such a large city has a small homeless population (we have 'em, but per capita we have less then many other cities... maybe we have better resources to get them help?  I dunno).

A lot of it is weather.  Sleeping in a doorway in midwinter in Santa Monica can be uncomfortable; in NYC it can be fatal.

True, but I recall seeing more beggars (don't know if they were homeless per say or just panhandling) in Brattleboro VT then an average NYC day, and certainly Vermont winters are more fatal then NYC...

Call me cynical, but I think tourist cities are more motivated to solve the rough sleeper problem than ones that don't get a substantial amount of income from visitors.

I don't doubt the *motivation* is there - but how do you solve the problem? Some members of these groups often categorically *do not want* to trade their freedom for "three hots and a cot" in a shelter - even if there were enough shelters to house them. 

Some of them have drug issues/psychoses/PTSD, which makes group living challenging for them.

Who pays for the shelters, the infrastructure - the laundry, the food, the water bill, etc?  Where does the City build these shelters?

The "working agreement" in San Francisco seems to be that the police start requiring the indigents to get up and move along at about 8am, and if you wait until about 6 to head to the train station, there aren't as many indigents about; the working and tourist population has diminished enough that there is no revenue stream.

Well, in my city which has had a big drive to help rough sleepers off the streets in the last 10-15 years, lack of motivation by the homeless people hasn't been an issue at all, the weather is truly miserable here though.  ;)

We have several very good homelessness charities over here, the biggest being Shelter which I support and which does great work helping people out of awful situations, not just rough sleepers but the 'vulnerably housed' too.

Homeless people can apply to sell 'The Big Issue' a magazine about social issues, the arts etc. which is a source of income and also allows them to access various services if they follow the code of conduct. 

I live in one of the biggest cities in the country, that has some of the poorest most deprived populations but I never feel threatened or annoyed by homeless people as I walk around, whatever the time is, so something's going right!
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Cami on January 24, 2012, 08:10:05 PM
I have worked with agencies who deal with panhandlers. They target you based in large part on whether or not you respond to them, including with eye contact. You are FAR more likely to be verbally harassed, followed and accosted if you make eye contact or verbally engage with them.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Drawberry on March 08, 2012, 11:07:22 PM
When I was in middle school my classes would occasionally do field trips outside of the city, and once to Canada (I live in Michigan) to see the Lion King show. All the children where told explicitly to not speak to panhandlers and not stop to give anyone change. Given that we where all young and naive I don't see this as inappropriate. It would have been very easy for someone to stop a young child in a huge group like that, and for that child to be taken without anyone else being able to notice. The school also would have the liability if someone had hurt one of the children, and would have to deal with the aftermath of someone possibly robbing one of the students. (These trips where often over a day long and parents where giving the children spending money for meals and treats-Some children could easily have had well over $100 on them at any time)

However as an adult now, I politely decline panhandlers. If asked as I am passing by I simply shake my head and say "I am sorry but I don't have anything right now" and have never had an issue. In fact I have been harassed by the college students who are panhandling for X student trip or X extracurricular, the girls that will stand half way into the street loudly laughing and yelling at passerby's heckling them for money. But never have I had an issue with a panhandler/homeless person.

It is rude to assume that "Well I don't know if they're unstable.." because they're panhandling or homeless.  You don't know if the cashier at Starbucks is unstable, or the person in line at the grocery store is. You don't know if your neighbor in the $500k gated community is unstable. It's incredibly unkind and downright mean to me that one would treat another person that way based on some generalized sweeping assumption.

Believe me, I've met some pretty colorful folks asking for change. Some real characters, but none of them where harassing me and in fact I ended up chatting away with each of them. Though certainly colorful characters, they where far from unstable or dangerous. One of the men I ended up speaking with was keeping me company while I waited for a train across the state to return home from visiting my father. (my parents are divorced and I was around 18 at the time)I had been alone and kind of wandering a bit confused on my first time at this particular station, when he asked me for change I apologized and let him know I didn't have anything.(I really didn't. my ticket was paid in advance)He ended up showing me where the spot to wait was and made sure I made it to the platform on time and talked me through getting my bags on the train etc.... I genuinely was sorry I didn't have anything to offer him because I would likely have missed my train without this man's help. He made me feel a little better then if I had been alone, I got the impression he was trying to keep an eye on me when he saw how nervous I was and had learned that my father didn't feel like waiting at the station with me and had dropped me off alone a good two hours early. After making sure I was at the right platform we parted ways and I would see him again from time to time when I returned to that station.

I am not going to say that anyone who's homeless and panhandling is going to be such a nice guy (or gal), but certainly to assume that because of it they have a higher chance of being 'dangerous' is not only absurd and completely unwarranted but just mean.

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: greencat on March 09, 2012, 04:42:18 AM
I prefer to LOUDLY announce that I'm not carrying cash when I'm asked for a handout, just in case. 

On the other hand, when I DO happen to be carrying a small amount of cash, I will sometimes randomly give it to the homeless guys that I see all the time that DON'T ever ask me for it.  This happens maybe once every 6 months at the most, so it's not something they expect me to do.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Firecat on March 13, 2012, 02:12:24 PM
When I was in middle school my classes would occasionally do field trips outside of the city, and once to Canada (I live in Michigan) to see the Lion King show. All the children where told explicitly to not speak to panhandlers and not stop to give anyone change. Given that we where all young and naive I don't see this as inappropriate. It would have been very easy for someone to stop a young child in a huge group like that, and for that child to be taken without anyone else being able to notice. The school also would have the liability if someone had hurt one of the children, and would have to deal with the aftermath of someone possibly robbing one of the students. (These trips where often over a day long and parents where giving the children spending money for meals and treats-Some children could easily have had well over $100 on them at any time)

However as an adult now, I politely decline panhandlers. If asked as I am passing by I simply shake my head and say "I am sorry but I don't have anything right now" and have never had an issue. In fact I have been harassed by the college students who are panhandling for X student trip or X extracurricular, the girls that will stand half way into the street loudly laughing and yelling at passerby's heckling them for money. But never have I had an issue with a panhandler/homeless person.

It is rude to assume that "Well I don't know if they're unstable.." because they're panhandling or homeless.  You don't know if the cashier at Starbucks is unstable, or the person in line at the grocery store is. You don't know if your neighbor in the $500k gated community is unstable. It's incredibly unkind and downright mean to me that one would treat another person that way based on some generalized sweeping assumption.

Believe me, I've met some pretty colorful folks asking for change. Some real characters, but none of them where harassing me and in fact I ended up chatting away with each of them. Though certainly colorful characters, they where far from unstable or dangerous. One of the men I ended up speaking with was keeping me company while I waited for a train across the state to return home from visiting my father. (my parents are divorced and I was around 18 at the time)I had been alone and kind of wandering a bit confused on my first time at this particular station, when he asked me for change I apologized and let him know I didn't have anything.(I really didn't. my ticket was paid in advance)He ended up showing me where the spot to wait was and made sure I made it to the platform on time and talked me through getting my bags on the train etc.... I genuinely was sorry I didn't have anything to offer him because I would likely have missed my train without this man's help. He made me feel a little better then if I had been alone, I got the impression he was trying to keep an eye on me when he saw how nervous I was and had learned that my father didn't feel like waiting at the station with me and had dropped me off alone a good two hours early. After making sure I was at the right platform we parted ways and I would see him again from time to time when I returned to that station.

I am not going to say that anyone who's homeless and panhandling is going to be such a nice guy (or gal), but certainly to assume that because of it they have a higher chance of being 'dangerous' is not only absurd and completely unwarranted but just mean.

I disagree. I'm glad that you've had some great experiences. I've had the experience - more than once - of being called names and otherwise harrassed by panhandlers, and I'm not interested in risking it. I'm going to err on the side of my own safety, and I don't think that makes me rude or mean. 

And "I don't know if they're unstable" is not a rude assumption, it is a statement of fact - because I genuinely don't know if any given stranger may be unstable. You might have more of an argument if you had stated that it would be rude to assume that any given person is unstable - which it would be.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Midnight Kitty on March 13, 2012, 03:31:00 PM
There is usually a reason why a person is panhandling, not working.  The homeless population has a higher percentage of visibly mentally challenged people in than the general population, so it isn't "mean" to be careful, it's just common sense and experience.

That said, I judge each person on their own merits.  I take public transportation and see lots of homeless people, both on the bus and living at the bus stops.  It's only prudent not to want to sit so close that they touch me.  Their clothes are filthy from living on the street and their skin has diseases which I don't want to catch.  Sometimes keeping your distance is the best preventive measure available.  However, a homeless person who bathes regularly and isn't speaking to their invisible friends won't catch my attention, so I won't even identify them as "homeless."

When it comes to "dangerous," I always trust my gut.  I've been on dates (back in the Jurasic Era when I was last single) with guys in suits who were scary dangerous.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: AngelBarchild on March 15, 2012, 04:11:36 AM
When I was in middle school my classes would occasionally do field trips outside of the city, and once to Canada (I live in Michigan) to see the Lion King show. All the children where told explicitly to not speak to panhandlers and not stop to give anyone change. Given that we where all young and naive I don't see this as inappropriate. It would have been very easy for someone to stop a young child in a huge group like that, and for that child to be taken without anyone else being able to notice. The school also would have the liability if someone had hurt one of the children, and would have to deal with the aftermath of someone possibly robbing one of the students. (These trips where often over a day long and parents where giving the children spending money for meals and treats-Some children could easily have had well over $100 on them at any time)

However as an adult now, I politely decline panhandlers. If asked as I am passing by I simply shake my head and say "I am sorry but I don't have anything right now" and have never had an issue. In fact I have been harassed by the college students who are panhandling for X student trip or X extracurricular, the girls that will stand half way into the street loudly laughing and yelling at passerby's heckling them for money. But never have I had an issue with a panhandler/homeless person.

It is rude to assume that "Well I don't know if they're unstable.." because they're panhandling or homeless.  You don't know if the cashier at Starbucks is unstable, or the person in line at the grocery store is. You don't know if your neighbor in the $500k gated community is unstable. It's incredibly unkind and downright mean to me that one would treat another person that way based on some generalized sweeping assumption.

Believe me, I've met some pretty colorful folks asking for change. Some real characters, but none of them where harassing me and in fact I ended up chatting away with each of them. Though certainly colorful characters, they where far from unstable or dangerous. One of the men I ended up speaking with was keeping me company while I waited for a train across the state to return home from visiting my father. (my parents are divorced and I was around 18 at the time)I had been alone and kind of wandering a bit confused on my first time at this particular station, when he asked me for change I apologized and let him know I didn't have anything.(I really didn't. my ticket was paid in advance)He ended up showing me where the spot to wait was and made sure I made it to the platform on time and talked me through getting my bags on the train etc.... I genuinely was sorry I didn't have anything to offer him because I would likely have missed my train without this man's help. He made me feel a little better then if I had been alone, I got the impression he was trying to keep an eye on me when he saw how nervous I was and had learned that my father didn't feel like waiting at the station with me and had dropped me off alone a good two hours early. After making sure I was at the right platform we parted ways and I would see him again from time to time when I returned to that station.

I am not going to say that anyone who's homeless and panhandling is going to be such a nice guy (or gal), but certainly to assume that because of it they have a higher chance of being 'dangerous' is not only absurd and completely unwarranted but just mean.

You said everything I wanted to say only better. :)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: twiggy on April 14, 2012, 07:56:41 PM
I don't respond to panhandlers either. But then again, I don't make eye contact with or respond to those people selling stuff at kiosks in the hallways of the mall.  A request for my money is not a social situation. If a panhandler sneezes, I'll say "bless you", but I won't typically give them any money. I've been known to let out bloodcurdling screams when surprised by people walking up to my vehicle as I'm strapping the kids into their carseats. That's a startle reflex, I don't just scream when people walk near me. But if I turn around and there is suddenly, and unexpectedly, a person in my personal space, it freaks me out. Especially since I'm a 5'3" woman who is usually the only adult with 2-4 children under age 3.

DH is a sucker for a story, especially if there's a child and a picture involved. At a nearby big box store, there is a family that occasionally walks around asking for money to help pay for a child's cancer treatment. They seem pretty knowledgeable and will talk about the tests and procedures that are taking place, and they always thank you for your time. DH gives them what he can, whem he can and comes away feeling grateful that our family is healthy. I think it's kind of hinkey because they also usually have a photo of the child, and will tell you a bit about the sick child, but I've seen several pictures of different children. Boys, girls, curly hair, dark hair, blonde, freckles, no freckles, etc.

I've also had the unsettling experience of being boxed in and yelled at by someone asking for money. I was backing out of a parking lot and he positioned himself in such a way that I could not continue without running him down. Again, it was just me, my 3yo and my infant daughter. He yelled at me, and when I told him I don't carry cash with me, he demanded that I go into the store and get some for him, all the while he was calling me all sorts of nasty names and telling me that I was making him feel so bad and ashamed, and didn't I know how embarrassing and demeaning it was for him to have to ask for money. I had to call 411 to get the store phone number, call a manager and blare the radio (drowning out the obscenities before my little sponge in the backseat could soak them up) while I waited for store personnel to come rescue me.

OTOH, I've also had a grown men weep when I turned my car around to stop and give him a sandwich, powerade and banana. And I had a warm, fuzzy moment when I was able to give a woman with a bunch of little kids about a dozen pouches of tuna and some random groceries I had in the car. The kids' eyes lit up, and it broke my heart a little.
(I find that being inside a locked vehicle, with DH for company makes me more willing to talk to/help those who ask)
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Twik on April 16, 2012, 09:07:49 AM
Unfortunately, when dealing with the homeless, you have three basic groups.

1, those truly "down on their luck." These people I have no problem with helping.

2. people suffering from mental illness/drug addiction. While not necessarily dangerous, they can be erratic and confrontational. And yes, sometimes dangerous. Interacting with them (even with the best of intentions) can lead to situations you are not prepared for.

3. the scammers who see money being given to people upon asking, and decide to benefit themselves from other people's charity. These people are disgusting, but they are often good at disguising themselves as Group 1.

The only advice I have is go with your gut. Bystanders who feel a passerby is being uncharitable rather than cautious should put up their own cash if they feel it's called for.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Miss Ann Thrope on April 26, 2012, 09:56:02 AM
I agree with your three types of panhandlers.  First, when I'm approached with a hard luck story--such as not having money for gas--I offer to call the police or adult social services for assistance.  The individual asking for a handout makes an excuse and walks away.  Their avoidance of police or social services speaks volumes.  I also use the line that I do not carry cash.  Second, I refuse to give cash, but will give items that immediately address a person in need's problem.  For example, I have given a sweatshirt to a homeless man that was obviously cold.  I also have given a sandwich to someone who looked emaciated.  I also offer to make calls to agencies in every instance.  Overall, I think that unsolicited approaches are for genuine help or to support dysfunctional behavior.  All polite request from any human being calls for a polite response.  All rude requests do not have to be acknowleged. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: FracturedPoet on April 29, 2012, 06:42:31 PM
I've never given a panhandler a cent, although I will occasionally buy a homeless newspaper from one. I always make eye contact and will just shake my head or tell them I'm sorry. I don't see how refusing to acknowledge the existence of a human being can be considered anything but rude. Imagine you were in their place (yeah, yeah, yeah it would never happen to you, right) and people refused to even acknowledge your existence.

I've had just the opposite experience with acknowledging them. If you look at them (confidently) and say "sorry" (confidently) they seem to back off quicker, you've made it clear they don't scare you, you're not going to be a victim, and you aren't going to give them anything.

To me this thread looks like people trying to justify their behavior. I've volunteered extensively with the homeless and they're not the malicious subhumans it seems some of you are trying to make them into. Many are mentally ill, some physically ill, others are addicts or drunks, but I think they all deserve to be treated like human beings.

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mental Magpie on April 29, 2012, 07:18:20 PM
I've never given a panhandler a cent, although I will occasionally buy a homeless newspaper from one. I always make eye contact and will just shake my head or tell them I'm sorry. I don't see how refusing to acknowledge the existence of a human being can be considered anything but rude. Imagine you were in their place (yeah, yeah, yeah it would never happen to you, right) and people refused to even acknowledge your existence.

I've had just the opposite experience with acknowledging them. If you look at them (confidently) and say "sorry" (confidently) they seem to back off quicker, you've made it clear they don't scare you, you're not going to be a victim, and you aren't going to give them anything.

To me this thread looks like people trying to justify their behavior. I've volunteered extensively with the homeless and they're not the malicious subhumans it seems some of you are trying to make them into. Many are mentally ill, some physically ill, others are addicts or drunks, but I think they all deserve to be treated like human beings.

I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: FracturedPoet on April 29, 2012, 07:21:59 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Yvaine on April 29, 2012, 07:54:10 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mental Magpie on April 29, 2012, 08:38:36 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

I agree with Yvaine.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: FracturedPoet on April 29, 2012, 09:22:15 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

Fair enough, but if everyone is pretending they can't hear you then I'm sure you'd figure out rather quickly that they just want nothing to do with you. These people have problems, but they weren't born yesterday.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mental Magpie on April 29, 2012, 10:18:18 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

Fair enough, but if everyone is pretending they can't hear you then I'm sure you'd figure out rather quickly that they just want nothing to do with you. These people have problems, but they weren't born yesterday.

That still doesn't make ignoring them rude.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: FracturedPoet on April 29, 2012, 10:40:56 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

Fair enough, but if everyone is pretending they can't hear you then I'm sure you'd figure out rather quickly that they just want nothing to do with you. These people have problems, but they weren't born yesterday.

That still doesn't make ignoring them rude.

They're asking you, a fellow human being, for help, and you're pretending they don't exist. You know you're ignoring them. They know you're ignoring them. It's not just rude, it's dehumanizing; they're untouchables, invisible men and women. All it would take is an eye movement and a head shake, but apparently they're not even worth that. I think it would be less rude if you ran up and cussed them out; at least you'd have implied that they have some value, if only enough to deserve your tongue lashing.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Yvaine on April 29, 2012, 11:00:09 PM
One factor is that in my town, it's pretty much always the same handful of guys, most times, and most of the "regulars" have offended me over the years; I think I mentioned this upthread, but one grabbed me, one spewed a racist rant at me, etc. So it's really a cut indirect, I suppose, and it's based on actual information about the people's behavior.

A panhandler who is a complete stranger to me might get a quick "sorry" and in some cases even a donation, if they don't ping my hinky meter. The nice person who wanted leftovers for her and her dog? Sure! The guy who tried to trick me in a semantic game to get money out of me? Skeezy!
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Ereine on April 30, 2012, 01:09:20 AM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

Fair enough, but if everyone is pretending they can't hear you then I'm sure you'd figure out rather quickly that they just want nothing to do with you. These people have problems, but they weren't born yesterday.

That still doesn't make ignoring them rude.

They're asking you, a fellow human being, for help, and you're pretending they don't exist. You know you're ignoring them. They know you're ignoring them. It's not just rude, it's dehumanizing; they're untouchables, invisible men and women. All it would take is an eye movement and a head shake, but apparently they're not even worth that. I think it would be less rude if you ran up and cussed them out; at least you'd have implied that they have some value, if only enough to deserve your tongue lashing.

I ignore pretty much all other people, I usually don't even notice people I know. I have my own mental problems, though not so severe that they stop me from living in mainstream society but I don't deal well with strangers and am too shy to make contact most of the time. Whose mental illness wins? That said, in my town most of the homeless (though with the resources that come with a welfare state homeless problem isn't usually about people begging to keep them from starving, it's more about families not finding affordable housing and I can't do much about that, I'm barely over the poverty line myself) are old alcoholic men and frankly, they scare me (and I've been screamed at for saying I had no money when I was a student and really had no money). If they ask me directly, I will answer politely but I won't make a point of looking at them, because I don't make a point of looking at any passers by.

In recent years we've received professional beggars from another country (that's quite far away so expensive to come here). On one hand there have been rumors that they're funded by organized crime and police have said that they should just be ignored, on the other, their situation is quite awful in their own country. I still think that it can't be solved by giving the beggars money, it requires effort within the EU (but I'm not too optimistic about that).

I had once a strange panhandler experience. I was walking down the street as two men passed me, a neatly dressed middle-aged man and a younger man, maybe his son. When they were by me the older man very casually asked me for money, like it was the most natural thing in the world to ask young poor-looking students for money. I was so shocked that I just stammered no and fortunately he didn't push it. He wasn't even drunk.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mental Magpie on April 30, 2012, 03:24:58 AM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

Fair enough, but if everyone is pretending they can't hear you then I'm sure you'd figure out rather quickly that they just want nothing to do with you. These people have problems, but they weren't born yesterday.

That still doesn't make ignoring them rude.

They're asking you, a fellow human being, for help, and you're pretending they don't exist. You know you're ignoring them. They know you're ignoring them. It's not just rude, it's dehumanizing; they're untouchables, invisible men and women. All it would take is an eye movement and a head shake, but apparently they're not even worth that. I think it would be less rude if you ran up and cussed them out; at least you'd have implied that they have some value, if only enough to deserve your tongue lashing.

You're making a lot of assumptions about how I view homeless people.  You have no idea what's going on in my mind and I'd like you to please stop speculating. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: DuBois on April 30, 2012, 04:33:36 AM


I totally disagree with all of Fractured Poet's points. Nobody has an obligation to engage with a soicitor. I never talk to panhandlers, it is a bad idea to engage usually. Plus, I normall have headphones on! I do buy homeless magazines, plus there are one or two beggars I do know and will nod and smile to. Other than that, it is not rude to ignore them. To say it would be more polite to cuss them out is staggering.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Yvaine on April 30, 2012, 09:21:04 AM
I'm going to add that, in my town at least, it's usually not people actually coming up to you and addressing you from close up. They stake out a spot and just shout at everybody who passes by, from about six feet away. So I'm not ignoring anyone who's so close to me that it's implausible.

The thing is, when I'm out in the general public (sidewalk, mall, etc.) and hear strangers' voices, my default assumption is that they aren't talking to me--why would they be? They don't know me from Eve. So I don't feel the need to tune in to what they're saying. Most of it is people talking to their companions, people talking on their phones, etc. So I'm sure sometimes I don't even notice a solicitation because it's blending into the background noise.

And pretty much the only strangers who do get into my bubble are people who either want something or are being jerks (as in street harassment). It's not just panhandlers. It's also pushy lotion kiosk salespeople, it's people with petitions (which I'm fine with in theory, but a lobbying group here in town was just busted for being deceptive in these practices, so I'm wary).  All of them are human beings, of course! I'm not trying to dehumanize them. But I don't feel like i need to engage strangers just because they're there. I might politely decline if they are actually near me physically, but that usually elicits a snarky comment or a dirty look, so I don't know why I bother. (Yes, I get rude comments when i decline the lotion or the petition too. It's so irritating.)

And I would probably be even more closed off if I lived in one of the areas described upthread where engaging will get you roped into endless pitches from everybody on the whole street.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Mental Magpie on April 30, 2012, 10:49:14 AM
Yvaine, get out of my brain! *ahem* Just saying that you articulated most of my stance pretty well. Thank you for putting into words what I couldn't.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Xandraea on April 30, 2012, 11:52:45 AM
Back to the original post,  I agree with those who have said it is not a requirement to acknowledge any stranger's demand, be it a panhandler asking for money,  a kiosk worker yelling "Ma'am, can I ask you a question?" (which is a ploy to get you to stop so they can dump lotion on you), or those annoying people doing "surveys" at the mall (No thanks, I'm here to shop/eat/powerwalk, not to do surveys.)  These people are not attempting to engage in friendly conversation, or anything else sociable. They want you for what you can give to them (money, time, etc).  Also, the woman standing nearby who loudly commented on how rude YOU were .. was rude herself, and also deserving of an ignore.

Several years ago, I was returning from a store to my car with my young child and as I was putting my things into the car, a man approached and gave me a story about his family of 7 living in a van (gestured vaguely across the large parking lot) and he just needed money .. I told him honestly that I don't carry cash and he actually asked to follow me to an ATM so that I could get some out for him!  Nevermind that I was a young woman alone with young child, and this "van full of family" was nowhere to be seen.

Another time I stopped to get gasoline and while the pump was running a guy walked up to me (kind of blocking me between the pump and my car), and asked if I wear _diamonds_. I had to have him repeat himself because I was sure I hadn't heard him right the first time. I said "No," and he said OK and wandered away. I noted he held a folded newspaper with gold-colored necklaces and things hanging out the back.  Seems maybe he had "diamonds" to attempt to sell to me? I don't know.  A fuel station employee asked me what he'd said to me and I related the story and she shook her head, saying that happens all the time here. As I got back into my car she was calling to him that he'd have to get away from the station door (where he'd taken a spot leaning on the wall), and he'd have to get off the station property (i.e. out of the lot, over by the street).

I'm sorry to say I tend to not trust beggars, because I live in a large city with numerous services to help find employment, day shelters, overnight shelters, where people can get food and shower, and maybe a bed, and even the YMCAs I think will allow someone to come shower there.  I see no reason to harass lone women in parking lots, or stand on street corners with cardboard signs.  They work in teams, several will sit a ways away, while one stands at the freeway exit with the sign, and they take turns.

It warms my heart to see the stories of those who pass the same apparently homeless persons regularly and exchange pleasantries with them (Hello; Thanks for holding the door; Warm weather we've been having!"), and I suspect those who are genuinely pleasant like that are more likely to be given spare change when people do have it, even if they haven't asked for it. 

Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on April 30, 2012, 06:47:03 PM
I ignore panhandlers in the same way I ignore the pushy kiosk people and the survey takers as well.  I'm not going to give a panhandler money; if I want to help homeless folks, I'll volunteer at a shelter or donate to a charity rather than being an enabler, as many panhandlers have mental issues and self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.  (Not all, but many.)  I am not interested in speaking to them any more than I'm interested in buying some weird head-scratching octopus from a pushy salesperson at a mall kiosk.  I'm not "dehumanizing" them.  I don't want to talk to them and I'm under no obligation, social or otherwise, to do so. 

I ignore the survey takers, too.  I like beans.  I don't mind George Wendt.  I wouldn't want to see a movie about beans.  I wouldn't mind seeing a movie starring George Wendt.  I don't want to see a movie about George Wendt eating beans.  And none of this is anyone's business but mine.  I'll ignore the survey takers, and if they get pushy and block my path or otherwise aggressively engage me, they get the same as a panhandler or kiosk salesperson would.  A headshake and a "No, thanks," and that's it. 
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: FracturedPoet on April 30, 2012, 07:03:12 PM
I constantly ignore the existence of human beings on campus as I walk by them on my way to class; I also ignore their existence during class.  I ignore their existence when I'm in Wal-Mart, too.  I am not obligated at all by anything (social or otherwise) to make eye contact with everyone and anyone around me at all times, that includes homeless people on the street as well as anyone else who just so happens to be walking by me.  It isn't rude.

And if they said something to you?

I think you can still be polite as long as you maintain the fiction that you just don't hear them. Because it's plausible that you really don't hear them. We might be off in our own little world or deep in thought; we might be hearing impaired; we might be paying attention to something else in the environment. Or we might be ignoring a comment on purpose. I think it's rude to make eye contact and then give the person a dirty look, but I don't think it's rude to maintain a plausible "lost in thought" demeanor.

Fair enough, but if everyone is pretending they can't hear you then I'm sure you'd figure out rather quickly that they just want nothing to do with you. These people have problems, but they weren't born yesterday.

That still doesn't make ignoring them rude.

They're asking you, a fellow human being, for help, and you're pretending they don't exist. You know you're ignoring them. They know you're ignoring them. It's not just rude, it's dehumanizing; they're untouchables, invisible men and women. All it would take is an eye movement and a head shake, but apparently they're not even worth that. I think it would be less rude if you ran up and cussed them out; at least you'd have implied that they have some value, if only enough to deserve your tongue lashing.

You're making a lot of assumptions about how I view homeless people.  You have no idea what's going on in my mind and I'd like you to please stop speculating.

You're right, I'm not a mind reader. So tell me, why don't you acknowledge them?

All it takes is a look and a head shake, is that really too much work? I'm not suggesting anyone bring them home and cook them supper. Ignoring people who have done nothing but ask you a question is rude. I do the same thing with people working at kiosks, it's really not that hard to treat them with the slightest bit of dignity by acknowledging their existence.
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: wolfie on April 30, 2012, 07:12:46 PM

You're right, I'm not a mind reader. So tell me, why don't you acknowledge them?


Because last time I acknowledged one he ran screaming after me for 3 streets and I was afraid that he would attack me. Is that good enough for you?
Title: Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
Post by: Wordgeek on April 30, 2012, 07:25:38 PM
Since useful discussion has ceased, thread closed.

FracturedPoet, welcome to the forum.  You may find your stint here more pleasant (and longer) if you adopt a less confrontational tone.