Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Advice to Boston's panhandlers...

Vanessa here...

So, after living in Boston for a while and getting used to the locals and the different clans of people, the student population that ebbs and flows and the specific pockets of the city, I have to say, there is one group that could use a lot of help in crafting their schtick: the panhandlers.

Now, I've lived in DC where there are some seriously sad, poor people and I've been to New York where you're hustled in certain parts of the city. However, I've never experienced the amateurish and down-right hostile panhandling I've witnessed here in Boston.

Here's my advice to Boston panhandlers (all based on actual interactions)...
  1. When soliciting money from me, do not block my entrance into the T station, not moving and daring me to go around you.
  2. Please don't sit in front of a church and shake a Starbucks cup at me and call me a "mother f*cking c*nt-faced bitch" and expect me to ante up to you.
  3. Don't ask me for"any spare change, please..." and then, after I dig in my purse and drop in a handful of change you stand there and pick out the pennies and throw them on the ground with a disgusted look on your face.
  4. I beg of you not to go from car to car on the T screaming at the top of your lungs, "Ladies and gentleman, I ask that you open up your hearts and open up your wallets today to assist me." sounds like you're about to rob us!
  5. I prefer that you don't say to me as I'm going into Wendy's, "Instead of going in there where you'll just get food that will make you fatter, give me some money." Oh, right...offend me. That's the way to get assistance.
  6. Don't pick up a stack of the free newspapers and try to sell them to people for twenty-five cents. Tacky, tacky, tacky.
  7. If I'm sitting there with my headphones on, eating my lunch and reading a book, please refrain from banging on my table to get my attention and ask me for money.
  8. It probably doesn't help your 'cause to sit in the train station with a sign that reads, "I have nothing. Please help out." While sitting there shuffling through your iPod?!?!?!
  9. Best not to spit in or near my general direction when requesting cash from me.
  10. I don't need you to compliment my hair or my shoes to get money, only to call me vulgarities when I pass you by.

Now, you probably think I'm a royal bitch for not helping people less fortunate than me. Let me make it clear that I don't carry cash as a general rule. But, I also donate to charities very heavily. I gave to the tsunami fun, as well as the Katrina efforts and a whole slew of animal organizations, Red Cross and HIV foundations.

It's just that these Boston panhandlers are simply vile, rude and way too damn pushy. If you just clean up your acts and follow my advice, you might rack in a lot more funds.

At least this guy's not bullshitting you...

Hope this helps.

Hang loose,
Double Vee


Anonymous lisa said...

V V!!! I'm reminded suddenly of the Mixed Nuts, of Kenmore Square fame. Now, they had style. I forget...were you in Boston before the "band" broke up? ;-)

12:27 PM  
Blogger The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick said...

Too funny! Interesting to think we might actually have some more polite panhandlers over here in Seattle. ;-) I'm with you on donating regularly to other charities, as opposed to just blindly giving cash/change to anyone on the street. What I will do on occasion is go buy the person a cup of coffee or sandwich, especially if they're holding a sign that says they need money for food. I've also left a bottle of juice or water, etc. next to some of them still sleeping in a doorway early in the morning. I at least feel more like I'm helping feed them as opposed to a habit.


1:11 PM  
Blogger Vanessa Virtue said...

Oh no, Lisa...I don't know the Mixed Nuts! Do tell!'re a wonderfully nice person to do what you do. I've given leftovers from restaurants to people on the street. Maybe I'll get some good karma in return.


7:34 PM  
Anonymous lisa said...

Ah, the Mixed Nuts...

Back in the day, before Kenmore Square had a GAP, there was this pair of homeless guys who called themselves the "Mixed Nuts." They had cardboard guitars and a tiny boombox, and every day (often into the night) they'd "perform" on their cardboard guitars. They even had a sign, and would mark off a stage for themselves like street performers. So you'd see these two guys set up in front of the Rat (when the Rat was still there) or in front of UNOs (which may or may not still be there) or better yet, in front of Cap'n Nemo's Pizza (which is definitely NOT still there, and it's a damn shame) bopping around like they'd be the next Aerosmith if only (1) someone discovered them, and (2) they learned how to play real instruments. The 'Nuts were always cheerful, always fun, and much beloved by the BU students who lived on east campus.

But, alas, one day the band broke up. And suddenly, it was just one Nut with his teddy bear and the boombox. Rumor had it that the other guy didn't make it through a particularly tough winter, but I can't confirm. I do know they were a legend in their own time, though. Icons of Boston in the '90s.

2:17 PM  
Blogger mumpsimus said...

Captain Nemo's moved to Jamaica Plain - same familiar faces - and they will be very happy to see somebody from the old days.

1:49 PM  

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