If Only You Could Send Me…

24 Sep

So someone tried to scam on Twitter. They claimed to be a poor boy whose mom was sick and him and his two sisters had just run out of rice. And your only salvation is a Twitter follower you met yesterday? Yeah, right…

I’m a pretty caring person – homelessness is actually one of the few causes I give a damn about. However, I’m also jaded, and don’t believe things at face value. The guy with the sign on the street in America might be hungry, but he’s not going to use the money you give him to get food. He can raid trash cans for food. He’s gonna use it for whatever is going to make him happy. Drugs, drink… hell, getting a new cell phone. Every homeless man in America has a smartphone. So if I give something to a man with a sign, it’s water or food, not money.

So when I give to the homeless, I give to Family Promise. That’s a great charity that specializes in not only providing shelter and food for homeless families (because most shelters are gender-divided, so sons can’t stay with their mothers), but also provides employment assistance, does interview training, and provides transitional housing to get them off the street. When I’m feeling particularly soft, I give to Phoenix Rescue Mission, St. Mary’s Food Bank, and the Salvation Army… all charities I respect.

Even when I lived in India, there were the homeless that I respected/knew and the ones that I knew were part of a racket. There, people were obviously hungry, but there is a scam where kids are hired/forced/coerced to look cute and bug people for change. However, that money went to their pimp… don’t have a better name for it. Just like pigeons, if you pay one, you suddenly get a swarm of homeless kids that start asking for money, and you have to yell “baas!” (A rude way to say “get away” in Hindi.)

Interestingly enough, this happens electronically too. The reason I even know about the Phoenix Rescue Mission, St. Mary’s Food Bank, and the local Salvation Army is because Family Promise sold my contact information to them. I was rather annoyed by that – damn it, I gave you money – that doesn’t mean I want to be put on the “sucker” list and get swarmed by homeless advocates.

So that’s how I balance compassion with logic. Part of me still worries that I just shut off a starving boy in… Africa? Gambia. West Africa, that’s right. English is a primary language. But if you’ve got money transfer software, you can take your mom’s cart, drag your sisters along, and sell whatever she sells on the streets of Bangui. But that’s what makes the scammer/beggar’s message so insidious. They are trying to appeal to your best nature. But they think you’re suckers. Look at all those silly people going to work and I get to be free and people give me money for nothing. Suckers.

Am I too jaded? Is there a better way to balance compassion with logic? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Responses to “If Only You Could Send Me…”

  1. nickreeves September 24, 2020 at 11:41 am #

    Scummers think work is a four letter word.

  2. Silk Cords September 24, 2020 at 9:43 pm #

    I did a similar post back in July of last year, but it was more targeted at the people I’ve dealt with on NextDoor.com and social media who loudly decry any attempts at displaying common sense in these situations. I was living in Sacramento at the time, and roughly 1/3 of the “homeless” population there are nothing but professional panhandlers. That per studies by people that work with the homeless there. I helped prove my point about it being completely proper to temper compassion with discernment by posting a pic of a panhandler outside an area Costco. She was wearing $100+ Birkenstock sandals and expensive yoga pants while holding up a sign about how hungry she was.

    As if to further prove my point, I saw her a few months later and she now was bringing two purebred purse dogs in a new double stroller with her to her panhandling. She had them off to the side hoping people wouldn’t notice though.

    There was another black guy that regularly panhandled in a different part of town that you could clearly tell needed the help. The poor man had BAD burn scars over his face neck and arms, a couple of his fingers were missing and he was mute from whatever happened to him. We gave him money whenever we could.

    Overall, I think you’ve got the right idea with charities instead of individuals. Even they can be a soft touch at times though, especially if they’re worried about their image.

  3. lightslatitudes September 25, 2020 at 3:43 am #

    You may be however, it’s hard not to be in today’s world….the thing that struck me most about this post is that the charities selling your information to third parties. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, but that’s really crappy on their part.

    • albigensia September 25, 2020 at 5:17 am #

      Believe it or not, this happens a lot. My wife decided to join this academic organization. Suddenly she’s getting mail from Sierra Club, Southern Poverty Law Center… Hmmm, where did you think I’d support you from? It feels more of a betrayal.

  4. hcmorris77 September 25, 2020 at 5:55 am #

    I think I was contacted by the same twitter account on twitter that you mentioned at the beginning. I’m the same way…if I’m gonna give, give food or water. So many charities only use a portion of the donation to actually help the poor/homeless.
    I’ve found one local charity – A Wider Circle – that takes unwanted furniture to help rehome the homeless. It costs you nothing and the donations are tax deductible.
    Thanks for sharing this!

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