We have all seen the signs being held by a range of people looking as though they are coming off a one-year drunk to the people who look as if they just stepped out of a Wall Street advertisement: The pleas have a common theme: ‘I want money.’ Regardless of what they say, Will work for food, Need gas to get back to my hungry children, Car needs repaired so I can get home, Bless you for your contribution, Out of work and hungry, it still boils down to one point: I want money.
I used to carry flyers that directed people to various agencies, such as shelters, food banks, free medical help, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the V.A. California was very good about emergency assistance, but Nevada is hard-core; I believe the employees think it is coming straight from their own pocket. A couple of years ago, I stopped referring people. Most of those agencies and organizations are in financial trouble, too. They don’t stand on the street corner ( with the exception of the Salvation Arny) asking for money. Instead, they fill our mailboxes with pleas, and our Internet searches with pleas. Do you have a hard time saying “NO” to those big, brown, puppy dog eyes on the animal shelter requests? I do. I don’t have much money, but I send something to any animal agency that is legitimate and asks.
I really don’t want you to think I am callous. I have just dealt with thousands of dishonest people who have been through the court system and are professional scammers. Not everyone is beyond redemption, but many are. At a time in my life where I wonder how, or if, I am going to survive, I do not have the money to be taken by a scammer. If I was holding the sign, I really would work for food, or say prayers for the kind people who helped. However, there are too many odd jobs around any community where people could make a few dollars helping others. Sadly, people with signs would rather beg than work, and in working, help those who need assistance.
Today, I drove to WalMart, because I could not find nutmeg on the spice shelf at home. There was a group of people, maybe five or six, with their backs turned to incoming traffic. After I got the nutmeg, I drove past them. One of the group, somewhere between sixteen – twenty years of age, was jogging in a small area, twisting and turning, and held a sign that said, “Bet you can’t hit me with a quarter.” The others in the group were running through the dirt area, recovering the quarters that had been thrown.
I started chuckling, and by the time I was at the street light, I was laughing. Tempted to go back, I refrained, and continued home. But, you know what? Next time I go to WalMart, I am going to have my quarters ready.