Thought for the night regarding homeless

Living in a bigger city, it's not uncommon to see people dressed kind of homeless-like on street corners or the edge of parking lots.

Now I know there's a lot of "legit" homeless people out there, but there's also a lot of scammers too.

http://metromag.com/files/image/main/LARGE/HomelessSign.jpgI recall reading somewhere awhile back there were businessmen who quit their jobs to work 9-5 on the street corners in major cities, pan-handling, as they figured they could make plenty of money sitting outside, doing nothing. Walking in downtown Chicago once a year and seeing all the street performers and various homeless asking for change around the city, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that some of them aren't really homeless...

As most know, for the last portion of college I worked at the local movie theater down there and eventually became management. Our theater was located back behind the local Walmart Supercenter which had a decent little shopping area built up around with a Kohls, Best Buy, Office Max, Ruby Tuesday and Steak n Shake all in the same area. At the end of the main drive is stop light to the main road. I noticed my last few summers there that every summer there was a guy, possibly college aged or at least in his 20s sitting down in the middle of the grassy median at the end of the main drive near the stoplight with a sign saying he was traveling cross country trying to get home and needed money for food. He would sit out there all day for about a week street, often with a cute dog (I believe it was a huskie) and try to get the cars that waited at the stop light to give him money. The first time I thought it was a bit suspicious, but then when he showed up the next 2 summers, sometimes with a girl joining him, I started to believe he was just a scammer, as he had the same sign every summer - you think he would have moved on by then - who spends every summer trekking cross country to get home? Which way was he even going?

Another type of scammer I see on occasion is at this one intersection I pass all the time to and from work. It's almost always a girl and she's standing there on the corner with a sign saying her car ran out of gas and she needs money. Only she's there several times throughout the year (usually when it's warm out - never saw her in the winter), and well, there's never any car sitting off to the side of the road and you can literally see the nearest gas station from the corner she's on as it's not even a block from the intersection. You'd think if she was that desperate to get some gas in her tank she'd just walk up there and ask if someone could spare a few bucks for her to buy a plastic gas can and put a gallon in to get home... but yeah... I thought about even offering that once, but considering this was the 3rd time I had seen her out there that year, I didn't want to take the rest that she was a crazy scammer.

Also, there's a Walmart near that intersection and at the back end of the parking lot is a 4 way stop. Last Spring, a friend had mentioned she was over there and saw a guy standing at the corner of the stop there with a sign (I recall it was a similar deal to the broken down car scam). I drove over there a few days later, picking up some stuff and there was the guy she described, different clothes though, but same sign. I kinda rolled my eyes.

One interesting thing my friend left for us to ponder though - if these people are truly homeless, how do they get the markers to write on the cardboard and make signs?

I mean obviously they use like sharpies or whatever so it's legible to a car but yeah... is there some secret homeless stash of markers somewhere so they can make signs or are they swiping them from Walmart or do people donate them?

It's an interesting thought to ponder...


  1. Maybe they can go into a gas station mart or somewhere and ask the person at the counter to borrow a sharpie for a moment?

    It's unfortunate that there are those scammers, because I like to give some money when I can to people who need it, but fear of just wasting it on a scammer who isn't in need makes me hesitant to do so. They're spoiling it for the people who really need it.

  2. A guy once came up to me and said "can you spare any money for drink and drugs?"

    I appreciated the honesty so I gave him five pounds.

  3. There's this guy who chills by the freeway off-ramp begging for money. One time I saw him sort of turn his back to the cars, reach into his pocket, and pull out this fat wad of cash. Like, I don't think that I've ever held as much money in my hands as that. The guy figured out a way around the system. So what are you going to do, right?

  4. just because someone's begging, it doesn't mean they pretend to be homeless. all they're saying is that they are poor and/or desperate. And if you see someone AND want to help, but think they might be a scammer, give them a couple bucks anyway. Is money so precious, that giving it away is like sacrilege? Its just money, and if the very thought of "gasp" wasting a small ammount of it makes you nervous, then you don't control your money. It controls you.

    -Matt Jeske


What's your thoughts?