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Here come the panhandlers

Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at 6:38 AM

Nashville's begun fining panhandlers $50 for doing "business" at illegal times and/or illegal areas.

I guess those fines are symbolic, since the panhandlers would have to beg for money to pay their fines.

But what about panhandlers in Shelbyville?

A woman who police say doesn't need the money has been begging on North Main Street for a few weeks. Avoid her. She took one of our T-G staff members for a ride, claiming she was a school classmate (she hadn't been) and needed college money for her kids.

We haven't heard for awhile from the guy who also begged money for years in a several-blocks radius from the North Main Street-Colloredo Boulevard intersection.

He wasn't in such dire need, either. I've been asked several times and turned him down, mainly because I suspected he'd head straight for the nearby liquor store.

Shelbyville police do a good job, or least as much as possible, on handling these situations. But they can't be everywhere at once, and beggars who haven't really committed a major crime or shown anger when asking for "donations" can't be kept confined.

My opinion on "panhandling" changed nearly 20 years ago when a obviously-angry man went from table to table at a busy Wendy's in Nashville asking for money. He came across as someone who would attack with the slightest provocation. The other customers and I each reluctantly gave him a few dollars. In retrospect, someone should have called the cops.

For the record, I "give at the office" (through United Way), so I'm not heartless. But there's a difference between giving to the truly needy and those who are just "needing" alcohol and/or drugs.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Amen !!!

-- Posted by Tn Volunteer on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 8:20 AM

How are you so quick to judge. I'm sure there are a lot of "panhandlers" that do beg for money to buy drugs and/or alcohol. But do you know for sure that everyone does? Isn't is just possible that someone might indeed be asking for money because they really need it. I have been in that situation and had to ask a stranger for help. Good thing I didn't run into you, or I would have been stranded.

-- Posted by rights4all on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 10:43 AM

Honestly, I feel like I can tell the difference between those who need help and those who would abuse it.

It's mainly in the attitude. The guy who I suspected would head to the liquor store had been seen by others doing exactly that. He also eventually began becoming angry at those who wouldn't give, being persistent beyond reason, leading to several arrests.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 11:09 AM

United Way is a joke. I used to give to them until a co-worker/single mother had her rented house burn down. They would not help her and her small child because she had a job. She made the same amount of $ that I did and at the time it wasn't much.

If you give to someone that turns to you in need and they are taking advantage of you and others, they will pay for it in the long run!

-- Posted by Disgusted on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 1:06 PM

David, I see what your saying.Our town is so small,most of the time someone will see things and know what the person is up to.The bible says instead of money,if someone needs clothes buy them clothes.If someone needs food,then buy food.Never give someone money and then you won't have to worry about what it's going toward.I'm like you David.If someone is taking my money saying they're starving and they buy alcohol I have a problem with that.That could have went to another family that WAS actually starving.

-- Posted by christiangirl on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 1:51 PM

Maybe he was starving for alcohol?

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 2:17 PM

I would think that the best thing to do would be to offer him some work to make a few dollars, but in todays world, you would end up being sued and you would end up on the street. It is a crying shame, that the world has gotten to the point that you are scares to help another person.

-- Posted by Lower Taxes Please on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 3:46 PM

About two years ago, while working at Wal-Mart as a manager, I clocked out at midnight. While walking to my vehicle, about mid parking lot, a car full of African American people swoops in front of my car. I quickly grabbed my keys and my doorknob.

This crack-head lady gets out of her car and starts giving me a sob story that her daughter is in the hospital with liver problems, and she needs $20 to get her medicine from Eckerd.

Scared out of my whitts, I told her I had no money, but she was persistant. Giving me the same story. I finally told her that Eckerd's pharmacy was closed at midnight, and if her daughter was in the hospital and needed pain medicine, then the hospital will provide that for her and charge their insurance if they had any.

She looked at me will eyes to kill, but I stood tall. Then she looked at my six month pregnant belly, and says, "Oh, your six months pregnant and having a boy, huh?"

She was a very accurate crack-head. I was so freaked out I climbed in the car without another word, locked the doors, and called Wal-Mart to warn them of what happened.

I saw her and her gang in Wal-Mart freaquently after that, asking for rides, money, etc.

I know she was a junky. She couldn't stop feeling herself, and she looked like her money needed to go towards something other than drugs, like cloths.

I do not feel sorry for panhandlers. They put themselves in these situations.

My husband and I work hard for our money and have a family to feed. There is no way we are wasteing it on someone who is too lazy to get a job and earn money the right way.

If I truely know someone and their situation, then I will donate.

-- Posted by Mary on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 7:52 PM

"We haven't heard for awhile from the guy who also begged money for years in a several-blocks radius from the North Main Street-Colloredo Boulevard intersection."

Yeah, that guy was the worst one in town. One night during the horse show, I ran into him at Burger King. He was standing next to the drive-thru speaker, begging people for money as they pulled up to place their order. It was especially pathetic because most of the people in line were visitors from out of town.

I haven't seen him lately, either. Maybe he collected enough money to retire.

-- Posted by Richard on Thu, Jan 31, 2008, at 1:25 AM

She was a very accurate crack-head.

-sorry but that was too funny!

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Thu, Jan 31, 2008, at 9:51 AM

If I'm right about the Colleredo area guy,he's been benefitting from the state's hospitality for a while.

As for making some of these folks work,a few of them will take their earnings,leave their employers with a mess and vanish.

(That's not counting those who mean well and try to do a good job but just can't pull it off.)

Besides the lowlifes,we have too many people who don't know the system,have fallen throug the cracks or just don't have the ability to do right by themselves or their families.

Take a community that's stressed anyway.

Add people who may be imbedded in a multi-generational cycle of helplessness.

Scatter a handful of band-aid solutions to severe,chronic hardships and ignore the means of truly making things better.

Give those who are trying to help about a tenth of the resources they need.

Blame "The Man" or the victim but don't ask what we can realistically accomplish ourselves.

That's a recipe for trouble,right there.

Do we see that everyone "in the system" is literate and has independent living skills or has an adequate support system?

Do we educate families on how to be families?

Do we give people the means of staying well or wait till they have to be hospitalized?

Do we find them a means of supporting themselves?

Do we show them how to get employed and how to hold a job?

We need to help out our disadvantaged and have vouchers for food,clothing,utilities,medical care,transportation,emergency shelter,etc. that would go to the source and couldn't be turned into cash for illicit drugs or frivolous items.

Then we could send each person with thei r hand out to a professional,24-7.

They could then get the help they REALLY need instead of just what they might receive from a well-meaning citizen -or laypeople and institutions that aren't so concerned about their well-being.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, Jan 31, 2008, at 10:46 AM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.