How much do panhandlers really make? Can you possibly make a living at this? How much of a difference does a funny sign make? Will people give to a guy in a banana suit? Does every sign have to say "God Bless?" Important questions. I aim to find the answers. Give me a dollar. God Bless.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Phoning it in

"Hi, this is Joe, how are you today?"

"Good. I am a cardboard sign panhandler, you've probably seen me around. I often panhandle on 16th street, dressed as a banana. I am calling today to let you give me money by phone. This spares you the inconvenience and expense of driving to the offramp. Many folks are even giving a dollar or two more than their usual donation since I've managed to save them from using gas. Have you noticed gas prices are very high right now?"

"I can take you're donation by Visa, Mastercard, or any other major credit card. To further convenience you, you're donation is not tax- deductable and so you don't have to worry about saving your reciept."

If they say no. "Is there anybody else there who might be interested in this time saving opportunity?"

Panhandling by phone was fun. I started out calling people I knew to warm up. Most of my friends played along and were creative and funny in their responses, but unfortunately most of them recognized my voice right away. My crazy Aunt Marie did not. She was cracking up at being panhandled on the phone, and when she'd decided that I was indeed a totall stranger what does she do? Why, she gives me her daughter's phone number of course?

I dialed a friend's number incorrectly and spoke to my first stranger. He wasn't interested in giving over the phone or internet despite my expaining the convenience of it. He also refused to make an appointment to meet me at the offramp. I pitched the appointment thing as a way to maximize my time on the offramp and I assured him I'd have a convenient time slot open at an offramp near him.

From there we just stated calling random people in the Sacramento area with the last name Jensen, finding their numbers at It's funny how few people seemed surprised at all. I calmly gave my pitch and they calmly and polititely turned me down. I called the local skate shop and they seemed to enjoy it but I don't see any donations so ultimately I'd call todays panhandling an abysmal failure.

I realize most Jensens are going to be white people of Scandinavian descent so, for some diversity I tried some different names. The first Washington was a guy was hard up himself but he took down my website address and promised to check it out if things turned around for him. I tried Jimenez and got hung up on for the first time. I started getting bored then so I switched panhandling online in chat rooms.

I'd say "hello", and then expain that I needed a couple of bucks for a soy latte, and that they charged extra for soy. I'd respond to what folks where saying with my dollar requests so that I didn't seem like another static, "look at my site" spammer. I mentioned that I love to LOL and even sometimes to LMAO. I figured this would help me blend in.

I planned to do some screen captures but there was nothing worth capturing. The people in the chat rooms I found were SO unimaginative. Responding with name calling and other stupid stuff, no playing along, no curiosity. A truly morbid reflection of modern culture. One guy called me a pseudo-intellectual. That's a great word. I find it's mostly used by the people it describes, and they tend to use it when they fell dumb. I don't mean to make anyone feel dumb.

The chat rooms I tried were all yahoo chat, "30-something","geek and proud", and I don't remember what else. All horribly plagued by spam. If anyone can suggest some better chat rooms I'll try it again.

I will have clips of the phone calls, which we recorded on minidisc, up here soon.

In the mean while my complete lack of success leaves me without an espresso/soy beverage on a cold day. This makes me sad. Maybe you can help with a dollar? Those of you who've complained that I spend too much time at the other sites and not enough time here might think about persuading me to stay here. A couple of bucks speaks volumes! God Bless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest panhandling at They have a chatroom there, but the messageboard would work too. You'll probably get in trouble, or at least be mistaken for a regular pulling a prank, but they will be creative, at least.

9:16 PM

Blogger Phelpsy said...

Over the phone.. I probably wouldn't donate to a stranger over the phone.

However If you had given me the website and I checked it out.. and it had funny stories like this I would probably donate.

That sounds like the reason I did donate... oh well, off to work on a cool logo to use as a link from The Canadian Basement to tis site

Have A Good One

9:10 AM

Blogger Keith Lowell Jensen said...

Thanks anon, I'll try that site sometime soon.
Phelpsy, I'll be calling you at all hours of the night and early morning. "Where's my TWO dollars?"
Yeah. That should be fun. Thanks man.

10:25 AM

Blogger Phelpsy said...

I sent money

no more begging me...

I am your TOP donater

This Canadian Loves this site, a day is not a day until I hit up

12:40 PM

Blogger thepanhandler said...

Don't you know how it works. The more you give the more I want. You gave a mouse a cookie, now he wants a glass of (soy) milk.

12:50 PM


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