Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Maybe It Works For Her

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We’ve all seen the people standing near stop signs with signs that say that they’ll work for food, they’re out of work, they’re passing through and ran out of food, or some other variation on one of those themes. Some, sadly, are legitimate; most are not. I recently saw a new wrinkle a while back at the Wally World on the south edge of town. A young woman, trim of figure and blond-headed, had a cardboard sign that began with the words “struggling artist.” I couldn’t read the rest, as the first two words pretty much ruled out me stopping.

Within a stone’s throw of where she was panhandling were two fast-food restaurants. I had to wonder if she’d applied at either. Perhaps I’m wrong, but her sign made it sound like she was trying to support herself by her artistic talents and wasn’t having much success. Most struggling artists and musicians have day jobs to support themselves. I just couldn’t help but wonder if she thought she was above manual labor. Obviously, she wasn’t above begging on the street.


She’s been there a couple times since then, with the same sign. I never see anyone give her anything, but she surely wouldn’t return if she hadn’t experienced at least SOME success. Maybe the trim figure and blond hair help. I can’t help but believe, though, that she’d get more donations if she’d scrap that “struggling artist” malarkey. I suspect a lot of folks will be like me and take it that she’s too proud to work like the folks who are giving her their money. That won’t fly with most folks around here; the times are too tough on nearly ALL of us around here. © 2014
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12 comments:

M. Silvius said...

We have a boatload of those dregs here in Portland. (Pop. 100K) The city tried to ban them from the median strips, but the local ACLU took the city to court and won. Now they are unstoppable. Every single intersection has at least 4 of them with some sob story sign. Most of them sporting several thousand dollars worth of tattoo work. 99 % of them are druggies and winos. Less then a block away from them there are a multiplicity of places with help wanted signs. The problem is the city has a big shelter and a multiple soup kitchens which allows them to live as freeloaders and the benevolence of the "caring" only subsidizes their bad habits and addictions.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I suspect that your town is like mine and not the place for artist to congregate and make a living. She was obviously clueless if she was trying to seriously make a living there and not in a big city. She didn't define artist, the call all kinds of things art now but really have nothing to do with it. How about Con-artist?

Gorges Smythe said...

Michael, I live in a small enough area that any regulars become obvious. I may give to a new face if they don't smell of booze or appear buzzed on dope. I've noticed that the ones that are sincere tend to look down and be embarassed, though that can be faked. I'll also give to some-one who says they're passing through, unless it's the SECOND time that I see them.

I'd say your last sentence covers it pretty well, SF.

Sixbears said...

"Performance Artist" performing her panhandling routine.

Gorges Smythe said...

You may be right, Sixbears; maybe I should have mimed checking my pockets for the money that I know isn't there!

Angela said...

I always hate it when I see someone begging on the side of the road like that. I wouldn't give to someone saying they were starving artists either. A few months ago there was an entire family with a sign. they had little kids with them. they all were dressed better than me! They also were foreign looking.

Gorges Smythe said...

Angela, years ago, a brother-in-law of mine was having some financial troubles, so he set up near a major intersection to sell some of his bonzai collection. He was doing okay until a guy came there with a "will work for food" sign, then everyong started giving their money to him. This was before such things were common. At the day's end, the guy told him that he'd taken in $600 that day and that HE should consider doing the same thing!

Pumice said...

It starts in the classroom. When a student doesn't have a pencil I volunteer to help them search the floor for one. Often they will inform me that they don't use floor pencils. They keep begging until someone gives them something. I used to pick up pencils and have them for students. No more.

Grace and peace.

Gorges Smythe said...

Can't say that I blame you, Pumice.

Fredd said...

There is really no reason to beg in this country, even during the Obama administration.

If you are not too proud to beg, then you are not too proud to sign up for food stamps, welfare, etc. It's there for the taking by anyone (sadly).

I think most beggars on at these intersections are either nuts or scumbags. And I choose not to give a nickel to either type.

Gorges Smythe said...

Aw, I don't know, Fredd, maybe nuts really can't help being the way they are. Scumbags are a different story, of course. Im checked out your blog and decided to follow it. Thanks for stopping by!

Mike Oscar Hotel said...

When I was young, I told my father I was going to be an artist. He asked me if I was going to DRAW unemployment!