Panhandlers usually want more than a few coins, but ...
Panhandlers usually want more than a few coins, but ...

A positive panhandling experience

I have lived on or near the East Side of Milwaukee my entire life, so I am somewhat desensitized to strangers asking for money.

It depends on my mood, but when asked for spare change or dollars, I respond in one of a few ways. I either mumble something about not having any cash on me, give them a few coins or offer to buy them a sandwich if they claim to be hungry.

In the past, every time I tried to offer to buy food, I received some mumbo-jumbo reason why the person needs money to buy food. That's when it's very clear to me by food they mean beer and although someone once told me there's a sandwich in every beer, I'm not down with buying it for random strangers. (Although I once gave a dollar to a guy in San Francisco holding a sign that read, "Alcoholic. Need money for beer." Hooray for honesty.)

On Sunday I had an unprecedented panhandling experience in front of a Walgreens. A nicely dressed woman asked me for a few dollars to buy "bread and bologna" for her kids. I told her I only had a debit card and kept walking. A few steps later, I stopped for some reason, turned around and said, "I guess I could put a loaf of bread and a package of bologna on my debit card."

Her face lit up and she said, "Really? OK."

We walked into the drug store together and over to the grocery aisle. I would be lying if I said it wasn't a little awkward, so I focused on reading the packages of food items while she picked out a loaf of cheap white bread and a small package of bologna from the fridge.

"I wish they had a bigger size," she said.

"How many kids do you have?" I asked.

"Four," she said, inspecting the small stack of lunch meat.

"Better get two," I said.

I then grabbed what I needed and paid for it all at the cosmetics' counter.

"Thank you," she said, taking the food and looking me in the eye.

"You're welcome," I said, looking her in the eye, too.

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Talkbacks

sandstorm | April 19, 2011 at 1:19 p.m. (report)

are you criticizing me?
:)

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captain | April 19, 2011 at 12:41 p.m. (report)

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.

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sandstorm | April 19, 2011 at 8:09 a.m. (report)

Brewcity, shouldn't you be rehearsing for your summer county fair tour singing "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong"?

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rob | April 19, 2011 at 7:55 a.m. (report)

35015 Good job, Molly and a great story! Keep up the good work!

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BrewCityAllstar | April 18, 2011 at 4:14 p.m. (report)

35851 Why would you take out Churches and colleges!? look at Milwaukee... Churches have soup kitchens and food pantries that provide free meals (many on a daily or weekly basis) and groceries to families in need. Giving to Universities allows them to provide scholarships to people that can't afford tuition.

And sandstorm, here is some additional reading for you. Focus on "Hasty Generalization" and "Ad Hominem". http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies.html

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