I think I like the beggars the least. They materialize in the Winn Dixie parking lot or on certain streets downtown, often with a friendly greeting as though you’re a longtime friend. They want money to buy milk for the baby, or gas for the car so they can get to their new jobs, or a bus ticket to visit an ailing relative.
Over time, you learn that there is no baby, and no job, and no ailing relative. There is only personal need, and the need is for as much cash as you have. Hand someone a carton of milk “for the baby” and you’ll find it in the gutter a couple of minutes later.
It’s the same with anything that can’t be spent or immediately consumed. Some of the agencies serving the homeless here hand out clothing, which then becomes one of city’s significant sources of litter. The recipients wear their new finery until it becomes soiled — which doesn’t take long — and then discard it in the street. Jackets, pants, shoes, underwear: All of it just lying there as though wearer had recently raptured to that big soup kitchen in the sky.
It took awhile to wise up, but I no longer give anything to beggars. They annoy me. They annoy me because begging is the ultimate expression of contempt. It’s telling the beggee that he’s nothing more than a walking wallet, and one stupid enough to trade good money for the most transparent little lies. The most irritating part is the way beggars rely on guilt: Your guilt. The wallets walking by are expected to demonstrate a social conscience when the beggars themselves consider the concept a private joke.
Anyway, when you start handing out money for nothing, word gets around. And the next day there will be two beggars instead of just one, and then three and four. That sounds rather cold, I know. But begging for a living should not be easy. You want my dough, you should at least learn some card tricks.