Thursday, March 20, 2014

Does Helping Really Help? (or, “I’m quitting my job in favor of standing on a street corner with a piece of cardboard)

For the past year or so it seems like every time I pull off the freeway there is someone standing there holding a sign asking for money. Some signs are humorous, some are designed to evoke pity, empathy or sympathy; and some are truly pathetic.  Government leaders at all levels are suggesting that the people who want to help should do so by donating to the various agencies in the area that are set up to provide assistance.  For some reason that message doesn't seem to be getting out as well as it should. Everyday there is someone on the off ramp. 
Apparently some of these locations are pretty lucrative because there is usually someone there: early in the morning, late in the evening, rain, snow or shine. The other day I saw some people that I know. From what I know of their circumstances, they don’t need to be out there, but hey – it’s working for everyone else.
I’ve heard various stories about how much can be earned in a single day on a good corner; if those reports are right, there are some people making a good living by standing out in the elements. And they don’t report it, so there are no taxes, and their ‘benefits’ aren't affected. What a deal.
But the real point is people need to use some common sense. The other day I was fourth in line in the Left turn lane on an off-ramp. Yes there was someone standing there with a sign. The light turns green, and car # 1 makes his left turn.  Car #2 moves forward a couple of car lengths, stops and motions to the sign holder to come to the car.  Something changed hands; I’m assuming it was cash.  Sign guy returns to the corner and car # 2 turns. Car # 3 inches forward stops and motions the sign guy back.  Guy runs over to the car, something changes hands, guy goes back to his corner and car # 3 turns.  The light is turning yellow as I (car # 4) make my turn, and as I check right, left, back and over the shoulder notice that Sign Guy is giving me the one finger salute.
Guess he thought since the light was turning anyway I should have stayed there and given him some money.  Wondering if there had been a cop there if he could have issued tickets for impeding the flow of traffic and crossing against the light.

Think I’ll find a piece a cardboard, make a sign, and if I’m lucky enough to find a good corner I can ‘retire’ early. 

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