I prefer the homeless in the morning. Almost every day of the week I pass under a railroad bridge in downtown Indianapolis just before 9 am. Every time I walk through I pass by half dozen or so homeless men. Generally they are all still sleeping or just beginning to stir. They usually don’t pay me much attention. There have however been a few scattered instances that one of them is already out of his “bed” (made of sleeping bag, cardboard and maybe a wheelchair) and has his belongings sloppily stuffed into a support beam. On these rare occasions this early bird will stop me as I go by and ask me for money, cigarettes and the like. I of course ignore him and keep moving. The fact that I ignore his beckon does not mean I don’t appreciate his “go-getter” attitude, though. I actually really respect that he is treating his panhandled as a full on 9-5 work day (or at least 9- when he gets booze money, work day). If I were a sucker that would be the kind of man I would be happy throw my hard earned money away to.
I don’t give anything to the homeless. I understand that there are plenty of good hearted people that have fallen on hard times and battle with personal problems that have taken away their homes. I also understand that a much larger portion of the down-and-out got there because they’re shitty people or are crazy or are maybe just plain unmotivated. I know that the places that used to house and treat people with mental illness don’t exist in the same numbers that they did years ago. I also understand that leaving someone with a mental illness unattended and unmedicated can lead to catastrophic events. Usually it just leads to them not taking care of themselves and ending up in unpleasant environments. I get all that, I’m just not going to give them anything.
I would also like to mention that I do not find those, “Why lie, it’s for beer” signs refreshingly honest or charming. Yes, I know what the money is for but I think most people giving you handouts would at least like to naively believe that you’re going to use it to feed yourself or wash your ass. When I decide to get rid of clothing, furniture or electronic devices, I just sit them on the sidewalk or maybe take them to the doorstep of a church. I let the needy do the leg work to obtain it. I’m not going to carry it to their stairwell home and set it up for them. Ikea won’t even do that for me.
I worked for a short time in a homeless shelter in Manhattan. There were a lot of good guys I met there. Guys who needed a little assistance to get on their feet. Guys that needed a little helping hand to kick a bad habit. There was also a shit-ton of guys who could care less about the hard work going into helping them. These men are parasites on the system. These men are just bad people. Each day I would prepare a meal for the residents of the shelter. They would get nutritionally balanced, low sodium, hot servings for every meal. By far the most popular dinner was meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy and green beans. Can you guess what the most common words I heard from the residents were? No, not “Thank you.” It was, “What, no bread?”
No you don’t get any bread. And I’m not giving you any money either. I will offer one suggestion though. Start asking for spare ponchos, the forecast calls for rain.
Editorial by Isaac