Monday, October 8, 2007

Begging for Change

Since spending the last five weeks doing Soiree Dada downtown at the Cultural Center, I have seen a lot of homeless people. This is nothing new, of course. It comes with living in Chicago. But, lately, there seems to be more of them and my jaded heart seems more inclined than ever to clutch on to my "spare" change.

Like many people, being homeless is one of my fears. Being an artist who often lives less than paycheck-to-paycheck, it seems to be a pretty darn valid fear. So, I often entertain the thought with ideas on how I would approach the whole "begging for change" as a career. As such, I see many homeless people between the EL stop downtown and the theater and I have a few suggestions.

If you want me to give you change...

- wear a shirt. There's this guy I always see who begs for change without a shirt on. And he's buff! I'm a little intimidated, so I'm already avoiding you half a block away. You're ripped, and while I appreciate that you are asking for my change rather than taking it, I still would be more inclined to hand you a few coins if you covered your pecs. At least some pasties.

- develop a skill. You just want change because you need it? I gave a guy near the EL a buck because he was playing guitar and he was good. If I walk by the puppetbike, I almost always give them whatever's in my pocket. And that's just handpuppets bobbing up and down to music! Make an effort. Entertain me. A little two step. Sing a little diddy. Make me feel like I'm getting some value for my money. Here are a few ideas you can use...

Mime - Pretend you are trapped in a coin-operated invisible box. The kind that only work with visible coins.

Town Crier - Find yourself a bell and start shouting the day's headlines. Get them from a recently discarded newspaper or make them up. "Britney Resigns As Attorney General!...Bush is a Monkey Ho!...Squirrel Tastes Like Chicken!"

Fortune Teller - I wouldn't give ten bucks to a sidewalk fortune teller, but I might give you a dollar for something I can use. "Don't take the bus!" "I wasn't going to. I drove." "Thank God. I just saved your life. One dollar, please."

If you absolutely don't feel like you have a marketable skill, or shirt, try one of the following...

- Adopt an english accent. I'm more likely to toss a bob or two to a loveable british raggamuffin than some lazy american dude.

- Get a nicer sign with a snappier slogan. I saw two signs yesterday. One said "I'm hungry" and the other said "I'm just hungry." Not a lot of variety there. If you're having trouble coming up with one, here's a few...

"Got Change?"
"Born to Beg"
"Hungry for Change" - I like this one best, makes it sound like my money's going to something pro-active.

Keri Myslinksi has some more useful tips for homeless people over at Moments of Coherency.


Saturday, I asked...

"To stop kids from bullying her son at a bus stop, a Jacksonville, Florida mother did what?"

34% guessed "Beat up a kid"
- Good strategy. Doesn't even matter if it's the right kid or not. It's a lesson to all of the little bastards. Alas, no.

33% picked "Rode the bus with her son"
- Ew. The worst possible thing my mom could do. I mean, "a" mom! No.

33% Bribed the bullies
- With money? With her MILF-y trashiness? Or cookies? Or none.

No one got the right answer "Flashed her gun"

According to the Associated Press, Jacksonville authorities say a mother pulled out a gun at a school bus stop because her son was being bullied. The police report says 40-year-old Johnna Briggs pointed the gun at other students getting off the bus and said, "Does anyone have something to say?" Apparently, they did not, but her son did beg for her to shoot him, now.


Anonymous said...

In the past four weeks, I've seen a rise in the number of homeless men sleeping under the Metra tracks on Lake Street.

And I mean, from zero to about six. It's a hobo camp down there. They clean up after themselves with a nasty recycled kitchen broom, they arrange their goods in cardboard boxing.

It's eerie. I want to point them to the Catholic Charities that is literally TWO BLOCKS AWAY, so that they might get some help.

Joe Janes said...

Numbers, that are trackable, are up nationwide. I don't think there's been a surge this big since Reagan was in office. Yeah, republicans!

GW said...

Joe, these are good tips. The digital divide between the "haves" and the homeless is closing. It is only a matter of years before they are able to access your online tips for them. In the meantime, you should probably print them on tracts that you can hand out.

Crustodio said...

My favorite sign seen in Seattle:

Mom and Dad killed by ninjas. Need money for kung fu lessons.

Anonymous said...

That sign makes me want to be homeless. Just so I can use that sign!