Author Topic: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?  (Read 44837 times)

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USC_Gamecock

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Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« on: May 12, 2011, 04:26:50 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?

gollymolly2

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2011, 04:32:53 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.

Hillia

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2011, 04:33:22 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.

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Ceiling Fan

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2011, 04:39:31 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.

Mikayla

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2011, 04:41:30 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. 

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2011, 04:45:20 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.
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shhh its me

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2011, 04:46:38 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.

Fleur-de-Lis

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2011, 04:51:43 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.

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Fluffy Cat

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2011, 05:00:45 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.

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KatPsych

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2011, 05:03:00 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.

Fluffy Cat

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2011, 05:07:00 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.  :)
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MrsJWine

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 05:08:51 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.


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Utah

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 05:10:52 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.

Red1979

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2011, 05:19:49 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.
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Larrabee

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Re: Panhandler and...Sympathizer?
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2011, 05:25:07 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.