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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon
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March 2014
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Vasaris, the Fuzzy Dragon [userpic]
Sometimes I am very disappointed in Humanity

To be absolutely fair, most of the people I see everyday are perfectly nice individuals.

I would like to be proud of my fellow humans and, in a way, I am.

Over the last several days a homeless man has been hanging around the store I work at. Most of the time he appears to be wandering around the residential neighborhood that starts up across the street, but he's been spending a fair amount of time at the three (count them, three, with a fourth opening up soon) gas stations on this corner.

People have been very kind, really. I've seen two people offer to buy the man food and it's pretty clear that others have willingly parted with cash.

I know this, because the man has come in to purchase cigarettes.

And beer.

And it's beginning to piss me off, a little.

Because when he's come in to make a purchase for soft drinks and had insufficient funds, others have covered the difference for him. They have directly purchased food for him.

And when he's panhandled enough money, instead of purchasing items that really are necessary, or saving up enough money to try and get into one of the local motels for the night (it has been pretty cold the last couple of nights) he buys beer. And cigarettes. And not the cheap stuff either.

It makes me understand why there are people who think that the homeless are effectively worthless and choose to be where they are. I don't believe that about the masses of humanity in general, but this man in particular just sucks because he's just using the charitable actions of others and spitting on them.

For now, though, I'm going to try and hold on to the quiet pride that many people have tried to be kind to this man... even if he doesn't seem to deserve it.

Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated

*sigh* That's the kind of thing that has turned me off giving money to homeless people. I refuse to be an enabler. Which, I suppose, may make me a bad person but I'm not giving them money to buy booze or smokes. I am giving them money to buy food or a drink. I'd much rather just buy them the food and give the food to them than give them the money.

I understand that you can buy food coupons specifically for that purpose from some grocery stores and fast food places.

Wow, that's cool. I think I read a story somewhere though... I don't remember where... about someone giving someone some food and they were all rude or whatever! o_O But I think it's a great idea.

I've just seen several.

And I have to admit that if I had any money, I'd go to Burger King and purchase some coupons to give the guy.

Except I don't actually have any. Money, that is.

And I have to admit that if I had any money, I'd go to Burger King and purchase some coupons to give the guy


I don't know about not buying the cheapest stuff, but might it be that homelessness is a state that - unless you are accidentally blessed with a saintly & unshakable character - is just unbearable without drinking?
Constantly knowing that you have no place where you can feel safe or at least unobserved gnaws at you. And then you are also all the time aware that being homeless is all that fate has in store for you. Just more of the same, and you have to be scared of the winter and your miserable, pathetic life will only get worse and worse until you die eventually. You have nothing to live for and no hope.
When you live like that drinking is the only crutch you can lean on.

And once you are a die-hard alcoholic you need your stuff to keep going, far more than you need food or a room in a motel for a night. When you are homeless, drinking becomes 'what really is necessary'. They don't betray you, they just happen to have other 'needs' than the one you have in mind for them.

And most people who give them money know that anyway. They pity them, and they give them money because it is the only thing that they can do in that moment, and they don't really expect that it will do anything good.

Yes, homeless are effectively worthless, like all people who have given up. But is it so terribly wrong to give a little money to worthless people who will probably spend it on a drink? I don't care, I just do it sometimes because it feels right.

Giving money to charity is better, of course. If it makes you uncomfortable to see your money and goodwill wasted, by all means do that instead.

And sorry for ranting all over your journal.

Rant away. C-chan and I love you even when you're making teh_ranty_face.

Huh. Teh_ranty_face. For some reason that sounds vaguely obscene.

I have to agree with ashenmote on this one. It's a vicious circle and sometimes I get really pissed off watching people give up, but how much can a back carry before it breaks? A lot of these folks are mentally ill and had medical assistance taken away from them during the Reagan years; hence alcohol as self-medication, condition gets worse, etc.

I'm still running on deficit so I don't give homeless people money, but I try to make eye contact and say "I'm sorry," because I am, and because the ones who don't want to be invisible are starving for human contact as much as for booze or cigarettes.


I suppose my original post *does* make it sound like I don't know all of that -- and I do. You can't grow up with someone who worked for social services before becoming a parole officer (and member of a variety of boards that dealt out discretionary funds for such issues) without being well aware of them.

I don't expect someone who is homeless to be perfect, to be one of the (*gags on expression*) "worthy poor."

My problems extend from a variety of issues.

1. Like lync I refuse to be an enabler. Alcohol is pernicious and not a solution. I admit to having personal issues with alcohol/alcoholism that make me intolerant. I try to control that, but I'm human too.

2. I despise manipulation of the sort that he practices -- coming up to the counter without enough money for his purchase and giving off "poor me" vibes until someone offers to pay the balance. Emotional blackmail is one coin I refuse to pay, again due to personal issues. I hate witnessing it in action.

For example: He had enough money for a can of Pepsi, he could have purchased that instead of the 20oz bottle. Had he been, say, a quarter short, I'd've paid the difference myself. But this was not the case. At almost $1 short I wasn't about to do so. I don't have enough money for my own pop, much less someone else's.

He had other options within the range of the funds he had. Options that I pointed out to him. And he stared at me like I was being an evil bitch for not being willing to take the difference out of my till. He stared at me with the "Aw, come on" -- complete with half-verbalized sound effects -- until they guy behind him, an elderly man on a fixed income, said he'd pay for whatever this guy couldn't cover.

That's just bullshit. I am not going to "C'mon and give a brother a break" when all he has to do is pick a less expensive item. I refuse to be manipulated like that and yes, I resent that he's using it on others who really aren't that much better off than he is. Because:

3. He is not the only person at issue. The people who are generous enough to give deserve some consideration, too. Is it really that wrong of me to be angry about seeing people, often with little money, effectively conned out of it? He's asking (I've since actually heard him) for money for food.

I realize that he's in a situation that sucks, and that he's got to get money doing something -- but he's refused offers to take him to the shelter, go to the food bank, etc., so it's hard not to come down on the side of the customer who is being lied to. I won't apologize for that.

It's the alcohol part that I was keying into, in a broad sense. You were pretty clear, I thought, about the specific problems with this specific individual, who sounds like a total asshole.

Alcohol is pernicious and it makes people do they things they wouldn't do if they were sober. That's a given. But I'm ambivalent because it is a form of self-medication for a class of people that society not only provides very little for, but is actively despised by people not like you and me. I can't justify allowing frat boys to chug as many keggers as they like and then tell a homeless person who can't fall asleep due to the anxiety and pressures of their life that they shouldn't drink to forget. I'm not saying I'm right on this policy, just that I can't do it.

*light goes off* I see.

You have a point -- and as I said, alcohol in general is a trigger for me. I am more intolerant on the issue than I really ought to be but... it's one of those issues with no happy medium, really.

(Then again, I am a huge anti-fan of the kegger-chugging frat-boys too, so there ya go. At least I'm equal opportunity about it, I suppose ;)

The point that I was trying to make: Homeless people deserve your pity JUST BECAUSE they are worthless and being worthless is terrible.

Yeah, that's it, I guess.
*wanders back to F_W*

No, it's a good point. And I do have a great deal of compassion for the homeless, both in general and in this man in particular...

But it is frustrating to see people I know and care about *give* with one intent and have him *buy* with another. I'll admit that might not be entirely fair of me.

On a side note: I'm not saying I think the homeless are worthless, just that seeing this made me understand where less charitable types are coming from when they make those kinds of statements. There's this whole "A Hand Up Not A Hand Out" jargon that's been going on in the Welfare system for the last dozen years or so, and I have to admit to having been pretty well sodden with it.

You were perfectly clear that you are not saying that, not to worry.

I'm on the other hand am saying it (but of course I allow for lots of exceptions when I do, and might not mean it the same way people who hate homeless people do. I hope I don't.)

My soapbox-ish thing about this is that it scares me to see that redeeming qualities increasingly become a preliminary condition for pity. And I mean pity in a vague, misty sense. Like, you can perfectly pity someone without giving them money or anything; or in your example, we could pity someone for being a manipulative arsehole who blackmails people into pitying him :D. Or stuff.

I have no time to think this comment through, so I just hit send and go my way.