Panhandling: Big Business? PART II

Posted: March 22, 2011 by Jay Rasean in Kasual
Looks can be deceiving, again.

If you read my article entitled “Panhandling: Big Business” then you’re familiar with my reluctance in giving up my hard earned money toward solicitation. 

If you read Looks Can be Deceiving, Confusing Too” then you’re familiar with the fact that looks can be–and will be, deceiving. This particular article sort of intertwines the two aforementioned articles.

The other day I had the pleasure of witnessing a seemingly new method of solicitation.  It was a young African-American high-school student asking for money to fund the overwhelming expense of his high school debate team [ I won’t mention his high-school].  He was just a kid–possibly 16 or 17 years old. He was well spoken, well dressed–and when I say well dressed, I mean his pants were not sagging.

Regardless of his clean cut appeal, I remained reluctant to give him money, here’s why;
1. I didn’t have a dollar. 
2. In the back of my mind, I was sure it was a scam… 
Nothing about this young man’s general appearance or demeanor made me believe he was a con artist, in fact, he looked like an actual student–a good one at that. The single instance that fed my growing  suspicion was when an older gentleman gave the boy about five dollars toward his “collection”. The look out on this boy’s face was less appreciative, but more, surprised. I figured maybe this “young debater” was possibly debating about his new scheme and how he actually made a quick five dollars [from one person] off of it!

Then I had a second thought–as I often do. Maybe that surprised look was a look of shock. It was quite possible that this student was in awe that a fellow New Yorker Would give somebody this much money [ five dollars is a lot in the panhandling world ]
Overall, either this kid was a good actor, or his school was truly having a budgeting problem. Maybe he is actually a member of the debate team. But once again, I remain skeptic. 
Riding the New York City trains have made me skeptic, shit, living in New York City has made me skeptic. From kids who wear more expensive clothes than I do trying to sell me Jolly Ranchers, to middle aged women with their fictitious tales of their poverty stricken families. All these things have made me untrustworthy, they have made me question every monetary decision I make, with regards to the homeless.
The thing that’s really a shame? That with my growing skepticism I may fail to see the people who really need my help. Not everything is a scam, I know this–but I’m sort of losing my focus.(K*W)

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