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.

Friday, December 09, 2005

New Record! Thirty Bucks!

Pictures soon. Jonathon will send stills from his video camera of both this adventure and the church panhandling trip. Don't worry. I'll be SURE to get pictures when I go out as Santa on Sunday.

We wanted to panhandle where there would be a lot of poor, unemployed type folks, to see the difference in what we made. We did not achieve this.

We went to the Unemployment office in Roseville but unfortunately it shares a parking lot with the post office and everyone's doing their holiday mailing. I don't think I saw many poor folks today. I was dressed pretty normal, except that I wasn't wearing a jacket despite the chilly weather. My sign read "Please Help. H.S. Drop Out. God Bless."

I got one dollar almost immediately from a woman who told me she was poor herself (so I swa at least one) and couldn't give me more. Next a woman rolled down the window to tell me that I should go in the unemployment office and get a job. I thanked her. I then wished I would have asked if she meant it compassionately or if she was a bit put out to have to tell me the obvious. Not becasue I bore here any ill will either way, but because I was curious.

Then the money came rolling in. More donations than usual and larger donations too, nothing under a dollar, several five dollar donations. I wasn't surprised too often. Mostly single women gave me money. Men tend not to give and women in cars with men do not give. The only exceptions to the single woman trend were two elderly ladies who gave two dollars, one young couple also passed me two bucks, a guy in a van who gave me a fiver and a mother daughter who gave me a couple of couple of bucks and about a dollar in change.

A lady handing me two dollars responded to my thanks by telling me that it was from Jesus. I told her to thank him for me. Another woman handed me a littlee leather purse with over four bucks in change and five one dollar bills, my biggest single donation to date. She didn't mention Jesus but there was a card in the leather pouch reading "I can do all things through him who STRENGTHENS ME. Philippians 4:13. This may sound lame, since I do think these are good people, but I almost like it more when I get money from people when it's just a human transaction with no religious duty or obligation. Yeah, I'm one snooty beggar.

Snootiness aside, I always feel bad when I'm not in costume and I'm eliciting undeserved sympathy from people. I couldn't believe how much money I was making, and I knew that I'd have to give it to someone who really was homeless, or at least was managing to fool me just as I had fooled these nice people.

A black woman who I would guess was in her forties came out and told me that I had to go. She wasn't in a postal uniform and I'm guessing she was the Post Master. I asked her why I couldn't stay and she told me I was on private property. So I asked whose property I was on. She answered that it was postal property. That's not privat property, that's federal property I told her as I assured I was going nowhere. She said she'd have to call the police and I welcomed this. Feeling like a bit of a freedom fighter I started singing "This land is your land. This land is my land." Nothing like some Woody Guthrie to make taking a stand fun for everyone. A cop car drove by 15 minutes later but didn't stop.

I hooked up with Jonathon and Jon and counted up the dough. They filmed it all from a good hiding place across the street. While they loaded up the camera equipment I counted up my money and was amazed when it came to $30.15. I didn't see any panhandlers to give it to on my way home so tomorrow I'll give it to my friend Brother Jay who lives next to the railroad tracks. I'll have to write more about Jay sometime. He's pretty amazing.

I can't wait to panhandle as Santa Clause on Sunday. I bet I make BANK! and I will have no guilt about keeping it. Woo hoo, er, I mean, Ho Ho Ho.

In the meanwhile, those donate buttons aint a joke. Can you spare two dollars? God bless.


Blogger Coexist said...

WOW. The generous Christmas vibe was flowing. I'm looking forward to Peets soon. Green tea!

I check into see how your santa gig goes. Still, since we met, I giggle everytime I see Will Ferrell.

Much love

9:59 PM

Blogger thepanhandler said...

I think he's the one that should be giving me two bucks.
But that's not likely so I suggest the rest of you head on over to those donate buttons! God bless.

9:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Post Office Gig looks like it payed out great...

I was sort of thinking about Santa's disposition in contemporary society... Like most acting Santa's being associated with being bar flies or something of that nature...

What about collecting donations in a Crown Royal bag or a cheap beer can that has been converted into a bank?

This costume and the homeless seems to have an ironic twist... Santa being the fictional giver is now a person in dire straits. How about a sign that says something like; Toys cost money and Mrs Santa needs a boob job... Or Santa needs two million dollars by midnight or Christmas is over/Santa will have to hang himself.

How about; I quit, do your own damn X-Mas... and give me a quarter.

I am all for a Superman costume next.

Good Luck and God Bless.
In Like Flint

3:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

religious giving...
I have the fun situation of both being a regular church-goer and a person who has lived at a homeless shelter and stuff.
There are a few things that I notice "poor" people really need that they don't get much help with (that I know of.) (Actual poor people.)
Usually there are places that help with food, shelter, housing, even some clothing. I don't see much help for things like bus fare or medical care, or just gas money.
I am too broke to donate to any causes right now-but if I donate to anything-for any reason-I'd like to help make sure people who need bus fare, gas money, and medical care get those things...people who can and will work at a decent job, or people who are so disabled there's no way they can get a decent job.
As far as religion goes...alot of people do give because they think it is a duty they have...
but as a church-going person...
I think I have more of a duty to actually give in ways that are of the most help-to shelters, soup kitchens, free clinics, job-services and educational services that help with bus fare/gas money, and child care for the "poor" especially so they can provide for their own families.
Having been in a shelter for a little bit-I don't think I'd give anything to pan-handlers because that experience has jaded me-and I know it's too easy to find free food and shelter without having to resort to begging on the street.
I'm sorry that religious people
are basically like all the other people...human, weak, etc. All the things that make people, well, people.

2:33 PM


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