Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Homeless Guy

Every downtown area seems to have its issues with homeless people, downtown Dallas is certainly no execption. They ask for money, sometimes they are aggressive at doing so but they are harmless in my experience.

A few days ago I was walking to the grocery and the same homeless man on Main St. hit me up for money. Instead of walking away with my reflex response, "sorry, no cash", I stopped and asked him what he would do with the money. He told me he was hungry. And he seriously looked hungry, not to mention he looked uncomfortably hot in a big wool jacket in downtown Dallas in the middle of summer. I told homeless guy to wait right there and I would be back with some food. He had the strangest look on his face as I continued to the grocery, as if noone had ever asked him the question before.

Taking note that homeless guy had no teeth, I picked some bananas, water and crackers. Grand total - $3.00. On the way home I delivered his groceries. Homeless guy thanked me but all the while he wore this look of disbelief. $3.00 doesnt mean to much to me, considering I just spent more than that on the cup of coffee I'm drinking while typing, but it might have bought him another day. Who knows.

I told a friend about this little transaction and she ripped me a new one, lecturing me up and down about how I shouldn't do anything to help the homeless. That they should help themselves. That they have services for people like that. That it only enourages them to hang around. I could go on but you get the point.

I was kind of surprised by her reaction but I wonder if its the majority thought? Regardless, I will still bring homeless guy his crackers, bananas and water, it feels like the right thing to do.



Blogger carl r said...

Jim, it was the right thing to do. I hope you keep doin it.
My girlfriend is a social worker (a BSW, and works in case management at a mental health clinic), and a lot of her clients are about 3 inches from the street. Yes, there are services available, but so many of the homeless just don't know how to access them, or even why they should bother. The same goes for some of the people in who are actually in the system.
And so many people view them as part of the landscape, that you might have been the first guy to ask him that, or to bother talking nicely to him. Ever.
And on the off chance that he lied, and wants drugs or booze, by buying food you have guaranteed tht your $3 wasn't wasted. But remember, even drunks need to eat.

7:54 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Carl, I asked homeless guy why he didnt go to a shelter. I was thinking it just might be hard to get into considerin the sheer volume of homeless in downtown. He told me he was there but the people were mean to him.

*If* thats true, its kind of a scary situation. That someone would consider being on the street better than in a shelter with people who, in theory, are supposed to be taking care of some minimal needs.

If hes a drunk, at least he is well-hydrated and the potassium in the bananas wll help to keep his electrolytes in balance :)

8:11 AM

Blogger rachel said...

some really cant help themselves. if i was in need i would have totally appreciated the banana and crackers.

-but- sometimes the people can be very aggressive. to those people i would offer no help.

my usual response to hey buddy can you spare a dime to the aggressive ones....i say "oh, no thank you." it confuses them, and i dont have to feel like im going to get slugged.

while living in minneapolis in the dead of winter, a guy asked for me for bus money. he had a child with him, so i gave him 2 bux....hoping to help the kid get on a warm bus.

i watched, he just kept on walking letting 3 buses pass him by, not even looking to see if they were the appropriate ones. i was very saddened by it, and became very suspicious of what happens to that money.

so--money no, bananas yes. :)

11:56 AM

Blogger Jim said...

See, thats the thing Rachel. Back when I lived in San Francisco the SF Chronicle did an expose on panhandlers in the city and the fact that some of them were driving BMW's and living in Marin County. Since then I have never given any street person money. Now bananas and water, thats a different story.

3:18 PM

Blogger JC said...

You did the right thing...
Money NO. I have a friend that tapes a Sacagewa Dollar coin to bottom of water bottles that he keeps in his car. That's nice, but I still think giving the money is not right.
Our church periodically has the teen's make little homeless packets with crackers, granola bar, candy, gum and handiwipes. My wife grabs a few of those or makes her own now.
I would buy the McDonald's gift certificates and give them...but in my warped mind, I wonder if maybe I am hastening his death if he SuperSizes it and the cholesteral kills him...I guess he won't be pan-handlin' anymore.
I had one guy say he got thrown out of McDonald's when he try to cash one in and refused to take it. I quit buying them after that.
Most of the time I bring my lunch to work and if I saw someone when I was doning errands I would give 'em my banana or sandwich if I hadn't eaten it already. But I really cringe pulling out a billfold in front of someone since there was an incident where the homeless guy was really just a thug and robbed the guy as soon as he opened his wallet.
I always think about the Good Samaritian Proverb and how I am not really paying attention to it.
I guess i better go make some homeless bags and put them in the car. Damn you making me feel guilty :-)

11:07 PM

Blogger Jim said...

JC, you bring up a good point. Along with the actual homeless there is also a thuggish element in dowtown Dallas. Its hard to identify which is which. Thats why I rarely carry cash on the street.

Austin does a really good job of handling homelessness from what I've seen, not surprising!

6:24 AM

Blogger Ryan Charisma said...


we have homeless in NYC obvioulsy. But luckily I have a condition where I can't see ugly people. I mean, I know they're there, but I can't see them. It's weird, but then again, I don't have to worry about the homeless as they don't seem to exist.

10:05 AM

Blogger Michael said...

Back in the Detroit area, I would frequently keep 2 or 3 dollars in my jacket pocket, away from my wallet, for the panhandlers. I could afford it, and it might help.

And whenever a grocery store has a foodbank collection, I make sure to buy about $10 worth of canned goods.

12:44 PM

Blogger Jim said...

LOL, Ryan, you know I'm not going to comment :)

10:00 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Michael those are good options too!

10:02 PM

Anonymous Jason said...

When I lived in AZ, a homeless guy once threw his shoe at me when I ignored him after he begged for money. It kinda pissed me off, but I laughed at it. lol.

I do feel guilty at times, and have given a few dollars here and there. That was really cool that you brought him food. Nothing wrong with that.

9:25 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Jason, In SF I learned the same way not to ignore them, a homeless lady threw garabage at me for ignoring her.

6:25 AM


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