February 4, 2009


They're a touchy issue. I see them everyday, I know they're mostly ordinary people who just had a bad run in luck. But I have no idea how to deal when I see them on the streets. I'm not a native urban local.

Do I follow the en mass like a sheep and pretend they don't exist? Or do I acknowledge them - and risk pissing them off, which has happened - by making eye contact?

I can't win either way.

And there are the panhandlers. Give them money, some will mutter a "thank you" and look for the next poor sap. And there are others who will demand more. I don't carry cash, so usally all I have are pennies. The aggressive ones will call me names if I give them that. I don't really blame 'em. I mean. If I were in rags, living off change, and some chick who obviously has a job and can feed herself gave me 3 cents...I tell ya, I wouldn't be happy.

I'll be honest though, I don't like it when a crazy-looking, smelly person starts screaming at me. Who would?

Let me pose a question for ya'all. If you see a homeless that's unconscious, maybe hurt. Or drunk. Would you help him or ignore him? Assume he's drunk off his ass and leave him alone or stop to check in on him?

This was on the news last week. It illustrates this problem pretty vividly.

"A man who was ignored by passersby for almost 20 minutes this week as he lay on a sidewalk after being assaulted in Columbia Heights has died of his injuries, D.C. police said yesterday."
Credit: Washington Post.com, David Betancourt
Note: You may need to register to be able to read the article, but it's free. You can use a fake email address if you like.

What would you do?

It's a sad day when people walk by a dying man and do nothing. There's a special place in hell for them. I have a hard time believing that a man goes down - and dies of his injuries - and doesn't have any visible signs of injuries. Even if that's accurate, if you see a guy lying on the sidewalk, wouldn't your first instinct be to run to him? Where this attack occurred is in a so-so area. It's not the safest, but it's not the worst. If it was some sort of trap or scam...There were people around who could presumably help. Oh, but wait - why would they? They didn't help the poor fucker lying on the ground. Yep, special place. Apathy really sucks.

And for the record - I have given money to panhandlers in the past, when I had a couple bucks to spare. Way I see it, if they sit outside in the freezing cold for hours hoping to get money, they sure as hell need it a lot more than I do, whether it's for drugs, alcohol or food.

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