Monday, November 07, 2005

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Living and working in downtown Chicago, I encounter at least six people a day on the street asking for money. I make a good living and as a liberal democrat I don't feel entitled to more than I need. But as a social worker, I know these folks are only wanting to get the $1.75 to get that mickey of cheap vodka and cause more harm to themselves and others. So, I've felt the need to develop creative ways of saying 'no'. Here's what I've tried:

1. When they say, "Can you spare a quarter?" I don't make eye contact and just blurt out, "Not on the street, my friend." Doesn't work. It just invites a response, or worse, a string of expletives. Especially if they're behind on their semi-weekly Haldol injections.

2. When they say, "Can you spare a quarter?" I've actually opened my mouth, stuck out my tongue, and emenated a soft glutteral "gggghhhh." Doesn't work. They don't buy it. I'm a tall, clean cut guy in a London Fog full-length navy coat with a sweater-vest. Guys like that don't go "gggghhhh." When they do, they just make fools of themselves.

3. I've tried replying in Russian, saying that I don't understand English. "Я не понимаю английский язык!" Ya nye panimayu anglisky yazik. I can really speak Russian without an English accent, too. Doesn't work. These guys have heard every trick in the book.

4. When they say, "Can you spare a quarter?" I've tried replying, "I was just about to ask you for the same." Wow. That really pisses them off. Don't do that.

5. I've often tried replying in sign-language, hoping to convey the fact that I'm deaf. They never get it.

After many trials and errors, here's the best option:

1. Never make eye contact and totally ignore them. Mouthing along lyrics to your headphoned i-pod really helps.


At 9:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...






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