Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Maybe it's the warm summer weather that brings them out, but I've noticed an increase in the area's bums/beggars/panhandlers. There are the usual hot spots around town. The intersection off of the 195 Cary Street exit has been a veritable institution for begging, especially around the holidays when shoppers flock to Carytown. Seems there is always someone, cardboard sign in hand, hanging out near Humphrey Calder at Thompson and Patterson. Further up Thompson at Monument also seems to be prime location for panhandlers.

Recently, the intersection at Staples Mill and Glenside got it's own resident beggar, an older gentleman wearing a back brace, using a cane, and holding a sign that proclaims his handicapped status and need for financial assistance. He seems to alternate between two corners of the intersection. A few days ago, Adrian and I noticed a new guy at one of his corners. He was a youngish-looking dude with a blonde, spiky hairdo (Adrian wisely observed that such a hair style can only be achieved with a fair amount of product, not something the destitute are often in possession of.) Tonight, on my way to catch a movie with my mom, I observed that Old Handicapped Dude now has competition from yet another corner on the intersection. This time it was a young black guy in shorts and a t-shirt. I didn't catch what he was displaying on his cardboard placard. But it did strike me as interesting that three out of four corners were actively being used for begging.

Once this intersection was known as a mecca for traffic accidents. Now apparently, it's the happening place for the local panhandlers. I do have to wonder if the Old Handicapped Dude resents these young interlopers, Spiky Hair Dude and Young Black Dude, leeching away potential goodwill for him. Especially since to the casual observer they don't look physically incapable of doing work. I can see how people would get turned off by the volume of beggars at the intersection and be less inclined to pass a few bucks to Old Handicapped Dude, and that's gotta sting since OHD has been working that location for months.

I see a turf war coming. Will OHD bring in some reinforcements? Maybe his buddy is the Vietnam Vet begging down by Humphrey Calder. This guy might know some old Army tactics and could put a scare into Spiky Hair Dude. SHD looks kind of wussy anyway.

And those creepy folks in orange vests who troll intersections with white buckets collecting donations for some supposed church have taken roost at Glenside and Broad. Wonder what's up with them? My theory is that they are a group of highly organized beggars. Unionized, maybe. Like a Teamsters for beggars. Will they come and muscle out the lowly independent beggars not willing to put on an orange vest, schelp a bucket , and join their ranks?

I must point out that none of this speculation is making me any more inclined to hand out dollar bills to every schmo with a Sharpie and a scrap of cardboard.

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