So, I hopped on my bike and rode to our carefully selected spot right outside the downtown plaza. The Plaza buts right up to the old K Street Mall, a pedestrian only strip that is struggling to between venues like Pyramid Brewery and little hole in wall Chinese gift shops, used furniture stores and other low rent type locals. The best in-between spots are The Crest Theatre and Records. Records is the Record Store on the cover of DJ Shadow's first album. It's an amazing place where I do most of my vinyl shopping in town.
We got just what we wanted by hanging out in such a spot. We interviewed a great cross section of people: upper middle class senior citizen tourtists, hobo/hound riding/hitch hiking homeless camper types, hipsters, Mexican tourists, even a skindhead.
We asked four basic questions:
Do You Give to Panhandlers?
Have you ever Panhandled?
Do you believe that there are panhandlers who work their 8 hour shift and then go home to a nice house and clean sheets? (if so, how do they do it? and do you think it's common or the exception to the rule?)
Should Panhandling be protected as free speech?
What a wild batch of answers. Almost everyone believed in the panhandler going home to a nice house. Everyone seemed to know someone who had seen it first hand. I will answer these questions myself here, and I'd love it if you could hit the comment button and give me your answers. Thanks,
Do You Give to Panhandlers? Yes. I do feel that some of the time it's enabling folks with addictive habits and I try to give to groups that provide real help (Mustard Seed School, Food Not Bombs) but I also think there are times when a body really does just need a bit to eat and a cup of coffee to warm themselves.
Have you ever Panhandled? Yeah. Mostly just because I was a curious punk rock kid exploring my world. Once in Seattle I really desperately needed to get a bus to Vancouver. Lately I do it as part of this here project.
Do you believe that there are panhandlers who work their 8 hour shift and then go home to a nice house and clean sheets? (if so, how do they do it? and do you think it's common or the exception to the rule?) Probably. But very rare, and in the cases where people think they've witnessed this there's probably a good explaination. A guy might live in a nice house because someone there has taken pitty on him and let him have a room to sleep in, but that doesn't mean he has the rest of what you need to survive? Or the house may have been inherited by someone with mental problems, alcohol issues, or whatever and they just live as they've always lived. I find it unlikely that anyone makes enough at panhandling to afford a lavish lifestyle. It's damn hard to make good money at this.
Should Panhandling be protected as free speech? Absolutely. The argument that some panhandler's are aggressive is crazy. Most sports fans are aggressive and they set cities on fire. Outlaw football.
So now, as is my legally protected right, I shall hit you up for money. There's donate buttons on the right and I need some oolong tea.