Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Let’s Call It What It Is—It’s Panhandling

Will Edwinson PhotoIs there a new type of panhandling on the scene these days? I believe there might be. In my youth, panhandling was illegal.  Maybe it still is, I don’t know, but that hasn’t stopped it’s proliferation. Back in the days of my youth panhandling was mostly confined to vagrants wandering the city streets begging people for a handout. Lately, I’d say it’s morphing into an art form. The Modus Operandi has changed some over the years, but in my view, it’s still panhandling.

Modern day street panhandlers work as teams, and they work in shifts.  They station a person at a grocery store with a sign that reads: “Will work for Food.” One day when I spotted one these panhandlers, I decided to try a little experiment.  I didn’t have any particular work I needed done at the time, but while shopping for my groceries, I picked up a small block of cheese and a few apples to give to  the gentleman out on the street.

It is written that Alexander Graham Bell lived for several months on apples and cheese before he managed to develop the first working telephone, so I thought if Bell could live on apples and cheese, so could this guy.  I took the food out to him and told him that I didn’t have any work for him, but hoped this food would relieve a bit of his hunger.  He didn’t act too pleased. There was no thank you. The look on his face told me this is not what he expected. Later in the week I witnessed what I had long suspected.  There was a woman standing outside this same store with her little sign.  A late model car showed up.  Two people got out and took her place.  She got in the car and it drove away. Whataya know, folks, it was shift change time.

Then there is even a more sophisticated type of panhandling that’s becoming more widely used.  Instead of vagrants begging on city streets, we now have organizations engaging in panhandling activity, and they are very organized in their approach.  I believe they even have a network where-by they share contacts.

Example: a few years ago a particular cause surfaced that caught my interest.  I sent a donation. The situation was favorably resolved. In years past, I would have received a thank you note in the mail and that would have been  the end of it. Not the case these days, folks.  It’s a whole new ballgame. Not long after this aforementioned donation, I received another  solicitation from this same organization for the same cause. Soon after that, came other solicitations from several organizations I’d never even heard of, asking for donations to their  cause.

What irritates me about this whole business is that it’s very obvious that these organizations, do, in fact, have a network, and they are selling their lists to other organizations. What’s even more irritating is some of these solicitations are from organizations that say they are attacking corruption in our government, but after several years, I keep getting the same pitch, for the same cause from the same people, but I see no evidence that any progress has been made by their so-called efforts; or they will say we have these corrupt government officials on the ropes, and with your continued  support, we’ll nail them.  Four weeks later I get the same exact letter from the same  organization. At present I receive no less than two or three  dozen solicitations per week from various organizations asking me for money for this cause or that; all because I responded to that one solicitation a couple years ago.

Some will disagree with my assessment that this is panhandling, but in my view, panhandling by any other name is still panhandling.When I say these organizations are sophisticated panhandlers, I do so, because I have come to the conclusion that many of them are using these so-called causes for no other purpose but to perpetuate the livelihood of staff members with no intention of succeeding in their cause. If they were to succeed, they  would in essence be out of a job.

Unlike the panhandlers on the city streets who extend a cup for you to drop your donation into, these mail order panhandlers are much more brazen in their approach. They have no compunction about telling you what minimum amount they think you should donate toward their cause.

Another thing that irritates me is that when I do make a donation, I tell them my resources are limited and this is a one time, once a year contribution.  That, declaration is, also, an absolute exercise in futility.  It, too, falls on blind eyes and deaf ears.  Somehow they interpret your initial gift as a monthly pledge. If I were to meet the expectations of all those who ask me for money, I, too, would be relegated to street panhandling.

And once you get on their solicitation list, there is no getting rid of them. I have even written notes to these solicitors under the guise of one of my children stating that I am deceased and please remove me from their mailing list, but to no avail.  Again,  my pleas fall on blind eyes and deaf ears.

Lest you misunderstand, I’m not condemning all organizations.  There are many like the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations that provide good service, but I do get a little weary of receiving bi-weekly solicitations  from these charitable organizations for more money.  It’s almost as though they think I am obligated, and they are entitled.

Ah…me, one consolation of all this is, my six year old grandson gets a big charge out of helping me run all these unwanted solicitations through the paper shredder.

Have a nice day.

—Will

LouIsa Cover PhotoNow, after having said all that, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my new book LouIsa—Iron Dove of the Frontier.  You can read about her on the “Books” page link at the top of this post, and even read some excerpts from the novel.  If you like what you read, you will have the option of purchasing a copy at amazon.com. 🙂 You can also receive a free copy of my other book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, by clicking on the free download button.  You will be asked for your email address so I can provide updates about future posts on this blog.  But guess what, folks.  If you want off the list, all you have to do is hit the unsubscribe button, and I’ll be gone from your life.  🙂 Best wishes.

—Will

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