Saturday, July 14, 2012

Panhandling


There are generally three techniques people use to address traffic-light panhandlers:
1.      Moved by their stated situation (homeless veteran, etc.), we donate and hope that they will wisely utilize the funds to turn their life around.
2.      Angry that anyone would have the audacity to beg for money while the rest of us manage to support ourselves we yell “Get a job!” or “I hope your curiously well-behaved canine turns on you!”
3.      We utilize the “stare-ahead” to avoid eye-contact and presumably remain neutral (or at least tacitly disapprove of the tactic).
I admit that it is difficult to validate any information supplied by a cardboard sign, thus making the decision to give or not to give dependent upon how honest you believe the person to be. For instance, it pains me to think that anyone who has bravely served our county would find themselves in such dire straits, but there is also the possibility that the panhandler is simply a shrewd operator who is taking advantage of the intrinsic sympathy many of us have for soldiers.

It is in this environment of motivational uncertainty we find thirty-seven year old Ohio resident Chrissy Lance. For the past few days she has been standing beside a red-light in Akron with a sign that reads, “Not Homeless! Need Boobs.” According to local media affiliates, Miss Lance is a single mother and college student who currently works as a barmaid; and while her job provides enough to support herself she has been unable to save the $5,000 needed for breast augmentation. 

So, inspired by other panhandlers, she acquired a permit from the city, threw on a bikini, and began requesting the needed funds from local motorists. To date she has acquired about $100 and her share of detractors. Because of the potential negativity, her friend Steve has agreed to be her bodyguard and when the 57 year old was asked why he donated his services for free he replied, “She's just trying to move on in her life and build herself up.” 
Chrissy & Bodyguard Steve
I must admit that her honesty is somewhat refreshing and even though a Roth IRA or college savings account might be a more prudent use of $5,000 I suppose she is free to use the donations for whatever she wants. Some have argued that if she has enough free time to stand around at an intersection she could get a second job to pay for her enhancements. While that may be true, there are a lot of upsides to bikini panhandling. After all, it would be tough to find another career with such flexible hours and minimal startup costs. Plus, think of all the creepy leering and suggestive comments she would miss out on if she were to only work as a barmaid.

I still cannot figure out bodyguard Steve’s angle in all of this. Does he have a job? Are they dating? Has he been stuck in the “friend-zone” so long that he couldn’t say no when Chrissy asked him to spend his waking hours watching her solicit money for her procedure? After all, isn’t he suffering all the indignities of begging without any of the financial gain? Perhaps I am selling Steve short and he simply wishes to help a friend reach a goal, but it is generally difficult for heterosexual men to be altruistic when boobies are involved. Five buck says he has already made a joke about how much he enjoys “supporting her breasts.”  

Maybe Chrissy’s blatant honesty will catch on and soon I will see people holding signs that say:

“While I would like a job, the cyclical nature of poverty precludes me from acquiring one since most of the perquisites for gainful employment are the very creature comforts that gainful employment provides. It is for this reason I have decided to discard my last remaining scrap of dignity and misrepresent myself as a paraplegic war veteran whose only immediate concern is treating the life-threatening chronic illness that ravages my body. Perhaps once you understand my motives you can forgive my deceptive practices.”

Of course, it is much easier to fit “Disabled, Diabetic, and Honorably Discharged” on a sign……

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