Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Cheesy Beggar

One thing I must say is the common beggar has improved in terms of storytelling, wit, and well…lying. There is undoubtedly one goal – to receive as much change as possible. But, how much can they ask for? If they shoot too high, they’ll come off greedy and unappreciative. If they ask for something too little, like a nickel, they’ll wonder whether or not they could’ve gotten more out of their sucker. It’s homeless economics 101. In fact, they should probably teach this at universities. Did you know the average homeless person makes over $30K a year? That’s more than the average non-homeless person. Something to think about.

There are many tales, schemes, and clichés that they’ll try. True story – This smelly homeless guy came up to me last night. I preemptively told him I don’t have any change. He was rather insulted by the insinuation and quickly let me know that he was not looking for money. Naturally, I felt kind of bad for the bum and allowed him to speak once more. He only wanted a cigarette. My mistake. I don’t have a cigarette either. Sorry buddy. I suppose I’m completely useless to the homeless society. I sent him on his way, wishing him the best of luck.

As I walked on, thinking about my own poverty, the man reappeared. We made eye contact, and I was certain that he remembered me from five minutes ago. He’s not going to ask me for another cig’ is he? No, he was on to another topic in his Rolodex.

“You know fish, right?”

“I don’t have any cigarettes man.”

“I don’t want a cigarette,” the man said, insulted once more.

Now I’m really confused. I don’t have any change for him. I don’t have a cigarette for him. Does he think I have a spare fish in my back pocket or something? Occasionally I’ll carry a salmon, but you happened to catch me on an off day. Better luck next time.

But, this relentless man was not talking about fish at all. He was talking about Phish – the band. This makes sense. He looks like a Phish fan and he smells like a dead fish. Now I know about Phish, but I’m not that guy who goes to their concert, trips on acid, and calls himself a hippy. To tell you the truth, I probably couldn’t name one Phish song. I’m more of a Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones guy. Nevertheless, I am not like the new generation where I’ve never even heard of Phish and am more interested in Flo-Rida’s newest ring tone. What kind of name is that? Flo-Rida. Not Florida, the state. Flow Rider…the rapper who flows and rides? In his defense, I bet he’s from Florida. I guess that’s creative in his mind.

Back to Johnny Bum. That’s what I’ll call him for now. He did want money after all. I knew it! He actually had a decent stack of cash in his hand to show me. He had more than I. If anything I should’ve been asking him for money. I was really in the mood for a falafel. I was right on McDougal, and I didn’t even have a dollar on me.

This guy wanted people to fund his trip to upstate New York, and his ticket to Phish’s upcoming concert. That’s pretty ballsy if you ask me. I didn’t believe him though. He was tripping on acid as we spoke. I knew this because he happened to mention, “I’m tripping on acid as we speak.” Gee, do you think he could’ve been lying about the all important Phish concert? There is no way he wanted money to pay for his next fix. This guy? On drugs? No way. Sorry buddy, maybe you’ll convince me the third time I run into you. By the way, can I borrow a few dollars for a falafel?

I’ll never forget this lady who approached me in a deli. She was about to purchase some alcoholic energy drink. You know, something that she desperately would need. Something very vital to her well-being. She wanted to “borrow” fifty cents from me. I love how they want to borrow money. As if I’ll see her in a few days and she’ll cough up the fifty cents I lent her. At least be honest with me, and yourself. You want to take my money from me, with no intention of paying me back.

I told her I did not have any change on me. Notice how generous I am at this point. So she told me that it wasn’t a problem. Her next move was to have me pay the difference.

“No problem sweetie. Here, take my fifty cents, and you can just pay the rest,” the genius said.

Is she serious? I just told her I don’t have change for her. So, she thinks I’m still interested in “lending” her money. The audacity of this woman. She handed me her change and drink and actually coerced me to the counter to pay the difference. Here I go. This makes sense, right? Wait a second! No way! I’m not paying for your drink. She looked at me as if I had just turned down the body of Christ.
What don’t you understand? You’re just going to pay for the rest of my drink. Understand? I may be naive at times, but come on. This trick isn’t going to work. I guess you’ll have to go a Tuesday without your energy beer.

Do you want to know what she did next? She approached my friend who had not overheard our conversation. She told him that I was a little slow, and didn’t understand her request. My friend said to himself, “I’m not slow. I understand what you want.” Sure enough, my friend went ahead and paid the difference for her drink. He came to me, confused. What didn’t you get? All I could do was shake my head in dismay. What are people thinking?

Something that I can understand, sort of, is if someone needs change for a
dollar. Watch out for the tricky bum in Penn Station. He wanted change for a dollar. Alright, that’s not too bad I thought. Let me see if I have four quarters in my pocket. You’re in luck buddy. Dollar please. I held out my change. So did he. What’s wrong with this picture? Who is giving who change here? I thought he needed change for a pay phone? Where’s your dollar bill?

Wait a second. You want to give me your change for a crisp dollar bill? What good is that for me? I have four quarters already. Do you think I’m eager to carry around eight quarters? I hadn’t planned on hitting up a Laundromat or arcade anytime in the near future. Wait another second; you only have about fifty cents in your hand. I can’t take this anymore. Just take my change. Here is a dollar. Go get a beer or crack, or whatever it is you waste your money on. Do I need a class to be homeless, or can I jump right into it? Do you mind if I shadow you for the rest of the day? I’ll be your apprentice or whatever. You’ve got to be making more money than I am. Wait, where are you going?!

Shit, I have no money for the subway. Anybody have change for the subway?

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