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Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:05 am

I was at the gas station and a man walked past, with his sign will work for food, clothes or cash. And he asked if he could pump my gas, so I let him.
Clean the windshield and throw out the trash, so I let him. I even asked him his name, where he was from, got kids and what's their ages. He kinda stuttered for a second, he kinda looked surprised that anyone would even take an interest in his life.
He said "brother dem the only words I done heard in the last year that wasn't 'no' or 'get the f**k away from her".
How could somthing so simple as general conversation, mean much more than general conversation?
You could tell life had beaten him down, like he was in the title fight and this might be his last round
Sometimes the easiest things we take for granted, until they gone, then realize we even had it.

Another time while walking in town in Suva, Fiji, this homeless man grabbed my hand as I walked passed and demanded money. I told him to F**K OFF.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:28 am

I participated in a project in New York City called The Mid-Night Run. We went through Manhattan to various homeless "colonies" and gave out food and clothing.

It was an incredible experience. I can't even begin to describe the things I saw and learned. So many people treat the homeless like pieces of trash on the street. They are humans, too.

The only thing I won't tolerate is someone who comes begging with alcohol on their breath. I know that alcoholics need help, but I don't want any possibility of subsidizing alcoholism. Same thing goes for drug use.

There was this one homeless guy that I used to feed on a regular basis until one day he walked away and immediately bummed a joint off a guy outside the restaurant. Sure, he got it for free, but I just spent $8.00 on a full dinner for him, and he goes out and does drugs right in front of me? Uh, huh.

But not every homeless person is a drug addict or alcoholic, and not all are mentally ill, either.
Up, up and away!
Matt D
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:41 am

I encounter someone posing as homeless every now and then. I say "posing" because for every one person you see that really is homeless, I would bet my scrotum that at least three others have their cars parked around the block and are simply masquerading as homeless. This would offer at least one explanation as to why, in over a decade and hundreds of people begging me for money "so that they can buy some food", I've had exactly three people actually let me buy them something-whereupon it was quickly consumed.

I also love listening to those BS stories they often give. A SoCal favorite, with some variations typically goes something like this:

"Yeah man I was supposed to drive up to (insert city here) and meet my wifes brother. He owed me some money and then he wasn't home. And now I don't have enough gas to get back home".

And I always love shooting down those stories. They are always so full of holes.

For example...if a guy says he lives in-say Barstow and claims he was trying to get to Bakersfield, then why would he be in Fontana? (FYI-Bakersfield is a straight shot over on hwy 58 West from Barstow....and Fontana is about 80 miles south of Barstow off of I-15).

They usually start backpeddling..."Uhh...did I say Barstow? I meant..ugh....umm...Banning...yeah that's it".

Or another guy who claimed he was out of gas and if I could give him some gas money When I declined, but offered to buy him gas and asked him to show me where his car was...he claimed that it was right over on Nogales and Valley.....about 10 miles away through about 50 other gas stations.

I love doing that to them.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:43 am

Actually I almost do daily. When I go to my parents office as I am right now, to get off at one of the exits for our house this homeless man is always there begging. He sits on the bench just begging for money. The worst part is he has one leg and he lost it fighting for this country. Is it right that someone who saves our country should be homeless?
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:48 am

I would bet my scrotum that at least three others have their cars parked around the block and are simply masquerading as homeless.

A few people have been caught here with that. Panhandler by day, rich housewife by night. This one lady who was posing homless, was caught going home to her apartment which had leather couches, big screen TV's etc.

I'll only help out a homeless person if i know that they really are homeless, and that they don't spend it on something stupid, like drugs or alcohol. For example a couple of years ago i came out of a subway and there was a homeless man standing outside, he asked if i had any change left. I said sorry i don't, but here have half my sub, and gave him half. He was totally appreciative.
yeah i know
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:14 am

You know, I realize that there are homeless in the US (and the world). I have worked in homeless shelters while in college, I treated street people while an firefighter/emt and give a sizable amount of cash (through payroll deduction) to charity and my church. But, I want to relate an anecdote from my high school days.

I used to ride the "A" train to school every morning and afternoon to and from school. As is common, I usually saw the same people day in and day out. One of these regulars was a "homeless" man who was panhandling. He would walk through the cars (10 of them during the morning rush) and carry a styrofoam cup and ask for money. He would probably get 8 or 9 people in each car to give him change.

One morning I decided to follow him through the train, since I didn't really feel like going to school. When he got through one train, he would get off, cross-over and get on another one. And do the whole thing over. He would do this all morning. Well, I kept an eye on him and followed him when he got off at Jay Street and went up on the surface. I followed him until he got into his car and drove away. I got the feeling that he wasn't really homeless, just someone scamming his way through life.

It's unfortunate, but this one incident prevents me from giving money or food to any "homeless" I meet on the street.

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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:22 am

IMHO it's respect, and recognition toward someone who believes they aren't worth it.

Kind of makes you realize how some people admire the basic things that others may take for granted, doesn't it.

Sometimes I talk to homeless people and ask them a few little questions myself. I'm always glad I do.

Language is a very powerful thing.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:17 am

There's a guy who often stands at the end of the exit ramp where I get off the highway to go home. I guess I have an excuse for not talking to him; he's sort of standing in traffic (on the concrete strip between the on and off ramps,) in a rather exposed place without any nearby parking or pull off areas. Since I usually have cans of soda or bottles of water in my car, I usually hand him one out the window. One time I had been grocery shopping and I handed him the loaf of bread I had bought.

By NZ, you bring up a good point -- I rarely take time to talk to any of the homeless people I "know." Most of the time even if I give them something, I just hand it over and run off. So I give them the "second thought" of dropping something in their hands, but not a second thought to who the person is rather than just a "charity case."

I know I'm just one paycheck from being homeless myself, although I have still a relatively good safety net in my family.
Up, up and away!
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:41 am

I have determined to my own satisfaction that a substantial proportion of people who purport to be homeless, really are. The problem is, there are many who simply will not- or cannot- be helped.

There are those who are mentally ill, but not to the extent of being non-functional. In years gone by, they might have been confined to mental institutions for their own good, but in this enlightened day and age, that is simply no longer an option.

There are those whose addictions have placed them there, and who have no family or close friends to try to nurture them back to health - or whose families have simply had enough of trying, because sometimes it just does not work.

I have watched as close friends slide, inexorably, down the path to homelessness and despair, and it is distressing to realize that, sometimes, you just can't "fix" someone. They have to believe that they need the help, they have to want the help, and even then it sometimes doesn't work.

I never understood alcoholism as a disease until I watched it relentlessly take the life of a close family member- he was in and out of rehab, because he had to go, but would never really admit that he needed help. It was on the day before he died, in the grip of his certain mortality, that he acknowledged that he needed help, and it was too late. His body was ruined. He is mourned still.


Point is, there are plenty of bums. But there are those for whom the answer is not all that "pat." I don't know the answer, and to be real, there is not always an answer to know.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:50 pm

A few months ago I was walking around downtown Toronto, drunk as could be. We somehow made it to Queen and John Streets, to a place called "Sketch Park". While my friend and I were there, trying to recover, we looked horrible. Ripped clothes from who knows what, hair all messed up. We somehow ended up talking with homeless people and they thought we were homeless. They told us to stick around as the Red Cross was coming back with food and some other "goodies". While we waited, they all pooled together their pot supply and started smoking form a bong. I don't smoke, so I passed (as I was so drunk anyways it didn't matter) and within 20 minutes sure enough the Red Cross came back and gave me, my friend, and the homeless people socks, a few cheese sandwiches, and apple juice.

During this time, I asked a few of them why they ran away (their average age was 19 or so, me being 18 at the time) and they said they were sick of living in the back country of Canada, and some mentioned that they were sick of living with their parents....and when they broke out the crystal meth, that's when my friend grabbed my sorry ass and dragged me back to the main street away from those crazies. We were with them for a little over two hours just talking.

Other then that, I've given homeless people a pack of smokes, but never hung out to the extent I did that time.

I'm lucky I looked like a hobo that night, otherwise they could have mugged me if they knew how much money I had in my wallet (over 350 american!)
Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten, Uptown, what now? Lets make it happen.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 1:18 pm

When I was nearly homeless was the only time. Nearly homeless because I would spend 4 days working in farm country and 3 days on the street in Portland. Because of that experience, I don't talk much to homeless people. But, Portland is cool because everyone tends to keep to their own groups but not in a "we are better than you" way. More like "we don't have anything in common but we can chat if it happens." I rarely get anyone asking me for change. There is such a huge meth problem here that people can tell that is what it will go for, so I just say "no" and walk off.

It also amazes me how many 25 year old homeless Vietnam vets there are standing along side the freeway off ramps here and in Seattle.

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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 1:37 pm

There is this homeless guy on "The Ave"=University Way at UW who wears a Yellow rain coat with Bush-Cheney pins all over it. A couple friends that I was with started asking him why he liked Bush so much, and he said that some campaign guy paid him to wear the pins, plus he's for Bush anyway, we kinda laughed but we gave him some money and he was pretty nice about the whole thing.
We're gonna do what we like to call a "jetBlue how do you do", which is slang for dumping a bunch of fuel in the ocean
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:22 pm

There's plenty on our campus, but I stopped giving them change after:

1. I saw several of them Drunk. On one occasion, a homeless lady that's on our part of campus was yelling and camping out in our building, and more yelling. Someone called the police, who knew her well. They shot the breeze with her for a while, told us she was drunk, and they led her out.

2. Found most of them smoking.

3. One guy on our street who always says "Spare 'ne change my good friend?" to everyone who walks by...Noticed that every single time I see him, he's wearing a new jacket. A nice one, too. Perfectly fluent and able, holds conversations with many students on campus. No reason he can't get a job.

On the other hand, one guy I remember who used to be homeless now works at one of the bookstores on campus. Seems to be doing well.

I have on occasion with a buddy bought 'em lunch if they say they're hungry. A lot of the food places here leave food out for them at the end of the day. There are some shelters out here, too.

One guy in particular here, I haven't seen him in a few months, but I remember he used to hang out in one of the coffee shops where a lot of us study. He'd freak the hell out of people by going up to their tables and staring, sometimes reaching into his pocket (did that once near our table and me and a buddy got up half scared shit he had a gun or something). Their circumstances are bad, but I refuse to give money to smokers and alcoholics. If you need to beg, use the money on food and warmth.

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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:38 pm

The first time I ever encountered a 'homeless' man in person, he was trying to wedge his way into our group at a dive bar. In an attempt to endear himself to us, he bought pitchers of beer. A noble gesture, but he pulled out a wad that had to be US$500. Ergo, when I see 'Homeless/Hungry' on a sign, I'm skeptical.

I've been a cop for a few years now. It has been my observation that (at least in the area I'm in) 100% of those I've dealt with professionally are out on the streets due to mental illness. Shunned by family, unable to hold a steady job and prone to psychotic episodes, they wind up on the streets and off their meds.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:42 pm

We have quite a few homeless people who frequent the downtown area in my city as well.

Many of them hang around the downtown bus terminal where they try to catch some sleep until the security guards and transit supervisors "shoo" them along. Although they're allowed to be there, sleeping on the benches is prohibited.

It's true. A lot of them do have mental issues and are far from normal. One man in particular apparently has dreads everywhere. Luckily, I've seen only the ones on his head. He shits and pisses while he walks, right into the clothes that he's wearing. He's a man of few words and I haven't ever seen him beg, but somehow he survives. There are only so many words that I can drag out of my vocabulary to describe the smell that comes off of this guy. It's just ripe.

To be honest, I've never seen or met a homeless person that you couldn't tell was actually mentally ill. Although I would never walk up and start a conversation, if they began talking to me, I would give them the time (provided I had it) to talk with them.

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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:58 pm

I think the most conversation I had with a homeless person was in Washington DC. We took the Metro rail too far and got in an area of town we probably should not have been in. This black guy came upto me and asked if the train was going to 'suit.' He was stoned and wanted money to get to 'suit', I gave him a 5 just to get him away from me. It was scary. One other time in DC, we had extra food and popcorn, and gave it away. They were pretty appreciative of it.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:01 pm

Yes, once when I was about 12 or 13. I was promptly jerked away by my parents and told not to do that.

Now before I get flamed for discriminating and being a horrible person...let me explain. I was about to talk to him about giving money, etc...and while he was being nice, he was also hitting up a 12 year old for cash, which my dad understandably felt was not right. I won't generally engage in conversation with them, as I don't feel like it most of the time. Alot of them just use that money for booze anyway...and some of them, as the local NBC affiliate found out, aren't homeless most of the time....
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:09 pm

Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Ever wake up in the morning? I live in downtown Milwaukee half of the year. Seems like there are more homeless people than there are people with homes.

I used to flip them a quarter or two if they asked respectfully, or if they were honest ("Brotha, brotha - I need $.75 to get a can of Steel Reserve). Not anymore, especially after I met one last year who said "C'mon man, I know you've got more than that" after I handed him a quarter. First of all, I'm in college. I really don't have much more than that. Second, if I did have the $$$, it's probably not heading their way. A 30-pack is $15. That's $.50 per can, and I'll be damned if they're cutting into my weekend entertainment budget.
Create your own luck.
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RE: Ever Talked To A Homeless Man?

Fri Feb 11, 2005 9:24 am

Well, this happened to me in London. I had noticed this woman squatting at the end of the steps on the platform of the Piccadilly line at Leicester Square station. She had a sign up that she would take money or food whichever you had. After seeing her a few times there, I never noticed her again, as if I had tuned her out of my mind. Leicester Square, where people change between the busy Northern and the Piccadilly lines, is a busy station and can get very crowded at times. One day, as I rushed down the steps I could hear a train pull up into the station and as I came around the bend towards the last flight of stairs, the doors closed and the train was gone. Suddenly a crowded platform had become eerily empty. It was just me and the woman whom I noticed once again.

She seemed to hold her head down, but upon closer observation I noticed she was crying. Tears were streaming down her eyes. Although I moved along the platform, I couldn't resist speculating why she was crying. The next train came pretty quickly and the few handful passengers who had gathered by now boarded. I still could not shake that image out of my mind. She had looked innocent, and her emotion had felt genuine. Suddenly, I remembered I had packed a Subway sandwich on the way to the train station to eat later when I got home. Not knowing why I was doing it, I got off at the next station, took the train bound for Leicester Square and returned to the woman who still sat there. Her eyes now almost dried up, but the desolate look unmistakable. I stopped and offerred her the sandwich. I asked her if she ate chicken, and she replied, as long as it was food, she ate. She said, she had some food with her today, showing me a tatterred plastic box with half eaten croissants and what seemed like remnants of a sandwich from Burger King. What she needed was the money for her monthly accommodation. I was surprised and not believing her at first I delved deeper. She was a bit reluctant to answer my questions and when I reassured her that I was not the kind of person who would take advantage of a homeless woman, if at all, I would help her, she was more forthcoming. She had come to London from Romania, in search of a better life and had paid exhorbitant amounts of money to be transported in a truck from the French border to the UK. She was a school teacher in Romania, had two children aged 6 and 4 from a drunk of a husband. She wanted to earn some money and bring her children here who were currently with her mother. She contacted the local police station once on British soil to seek asylum. By this time, the bemused bystanders on the once-again crowded platform were staring at me, some with curiosity and some with pure scorn.

Long story short she was denied asylum and had not shown up for her deportation order. She could not find a job and had to finally resort to begging. There was a lady who ran a dilapilated shelter illegally for the homeless and collected 100 pounds a month, a hefty rent for 6 ladies in a room. She was overdue two days for rent and had managed to muster up only 87 pounds. If she didn't come up with the 13 more, she would be evicted. Knowing that I would only be helping a bad habbit, and still not convinced entirely of her story, I gave her five pounds and offerred to contact social workers who would tend to her. She declined and I didn't pursue further. As I boarded my train to go home, I felt an enormous sense of helplessness, and a feeling of guilt I didn't exactly know why. Who was responsible? Herself, who left in search for a better life for her kids? or her husband, who drove her to this? or the British government that was trying to legitimately control immigration? It troubled me for weeks before I was finally able to get it out of my mind, until now. I think, some restless days lie ahead.


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