By Wil Forbis
getting old or perhaps the years of unrefined malt liquor are finally
getting to me, but can any one of you loyal readers remind why I’m supposed
to feel sorry for homeless panhandling scum? I used to have a reason
in the back of my mind - something that prevented me from throttling
every third person I encountered on the street who muttered yet another
refrain of, “Hey man, got a quarter?” There was some sort of social
training imbedded in my psyche that prevented me from become this decade's
Bernard Goetz and taking to the streets with enough automatic weapons
to make Charles Whitman look like Gandhi. But it suddenly occurred to
me recently, as the 1056th obviously capable and youthful street waif
asked me for money, that whatever mental block had prevented me from
seeing these people as cannon fodder had long since disappeared. And
I asked myself, would it be so wrong, if when the next drooling crusty
punk gleefully pounced on me, I calmly pulled out a 1940’s German Luger
and shot him in the head right there on the sidewalk?
rational quickly settled in on me. How could I think such things, of
course it would be wrong! It would be wrong, because if you shot someone
right there on the pavement, their brains and blood will spill out on
the concrete and decent people might come along and slip on them. There
would simply be no defense for that sort of behavior. However, if I
could somehow insure that their cranial innards did not spatter on the
sidewalk but rather the gutter, well, then, those actions would be totally
morally defensible. Perhaps I could pretend to drop some change into
the street, and when the urban youth scurried over past the curb to
retrieve them I could calmly pop him in the back of the head (or her,
let’s be fair to everyone) and go about my business.
murder might seem extreme to some of you who aren’t approached by panhandling
filth as often as I am. And the truth is, I don’t despise all such scum,
just the ones that are obviously as capable as making a buck as I am.
For years, I washed cars, drove forklifts, and drug around 50 gallon
tins of strange warehouse chemicals… If that sort of blue collar labor
was good enough for me, why isn’t it for them? Why does some 21 year
old punk with an beaten up “Exploited” jacket think he should be exempt
from the back breaking labor the rest of us have to endure. And it’s
not just that these scum are asking for change, it’s the rude and shitty
way they do it. If someone says, “Excuse me but do you happen to have
a quarter?” I’m willing to treat that with some consideration. But what
kind of request is “Spare change, dude?”, usually accompanied with some
sort of belligerent sneer. Yes, I do have spare change, I believe what
you’re asking me is whether I’ll give it to you. Of course If I do give
it away, I’ll no longer have it. It’s kind of a catch-22, isn’t it you
Now, as I
said above, I don’t hate all panhandlers. Let me include a few examples
of street filth I do believe to be worthwhile people:
people over 40 - at that point you’ve gathered enough personality to
become a “character” and ideally have even garnered a wacky old man
name like “Crazy Bob,” “One Eyed Jimmy,” or “Leslie.” It has always
been the cornerstone of my philosophy to respect eccentrics.
who employ lines like “Spare change for beer/heroin/a new kidney?” or
“Pardon me sir, would thou happen to have a sixpence for some finer
mead?” prove they actually put some thought into their vocation and
deserve recognition for that effort. “Yo man, got a quarter” or “Spare
change, dude,” are not amusing lines and should only be rewarded only
with a swift beating.
3. Viet Nam
vets - It is not permissible to degrade our proud veterans who have
been relegated to the street thought it is all right to yell “Charlie
at six o’clock” and watch them have a flashback.
playing a musical instrument, though it must be understood that gratuities
increase proportionally in reference to the zaniness of the instrument.
(e.g. a folk guitarist will only receive a dollar for a three minute
song where an accordionist will receive four dollars and a zitherist
six dollars. Extra consideration will be due for the use of everyday
objects as musical instruments, such as paper cups, parking meters
and small children.)
with a Motley Crue T-shirt.
only type of spare changers that piss me off are young kids clearly
capable of pertaining employment. And even within group the only ones
really deserving death wear an attitude that seems to imply I owe them
a living. I think what these punks fail to realize is that I'm in on
their little game because... well, I used to be one of them. I don't
want to give the wrong impression here - I'm not saying I used to be
some sort of panhandling street sloth, but I did hang out with that
crowd. And frankly, none of them really had any good excuse for that
activity. They panhandled because they were lazy, and more than once
implied that I was some sort of sucker for buying into "the system"
and having a job. I've got no beef with people who want to avoid capitalism,
but go do it in some hippie commune, not in front of the local Starbucks.
is - we should be treasuring any and all instances of the common panhandling
punk. After all, they're are a dying breed, like the flightless vampire
Iguana and funny late night host. The day of the cashless society is
upon us and soon no working man will be carrying around the king's silver,
rather magnetized cards capable of dispensing space-credits or whatever
monetary form is imposed upon us. What will these vermin do then? Will
they start accepting MasterCard and Visa? (Doubtful since such technology
is well past their stegasaurus-like understanding of the world.) Will
they begin to recede into the alleys and trash bins of the concrete
jungle, slowly becoming aware that modern society no longer has the
tools to support their indolence. Or will they do that thing that is
most heinous in their contorted worldview – GET A JOB!?!