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January 30, 2009


Jonathan Steinke

...and offer him/her lunch. If the person refuses, cut bait and run.


you should have given it to him.

clever grad student

Honestly, this smells to high heaven (as an earlier poster said) of Clever Grad Student research.

Unless, of course, this THREAD is the REAL Clever Grad Student Research.


Maybe give the 20 dollars to Yo-Yo-Ma


I probably would've given him a buck or two, the way I figure it you're helping someone further down the path to success (and eventually death) or death by aiding their self-destruction: enabling. (OR, possibly the end of their misery) But either way it's a small comfort.I don't mind giving someone a couple of bucks worth of comfort if I can spare it. But I seem to do this only 50% of the time.

In my limited experience, D.C. homeless have tended to be nastier and more "in your face" than NYC's homeless. In D.C., if I ignored their advances, I was often harangued and pursued for blocks. And I'm a large construction worker/bouncer looking kinda creep. This usually occurred when walking home from a show at the 9:30 Club around 2-3 a.m. It got to the point where I was thinking of printing up a business card with a church photo and religious quotes on one side and pornography on the other, just to give them something to confuse them long enough for me to gain some distance, and hopefully freak them out a little bit. I realize with the right person my ploy could've backfired and made them interested enough to want to be pals or murder me, but I haven't yet tried it out.

Years ago, my friends Matt and Monica were buying some Mickey's Big Mouths down around Allen and Rivington, and as they left the store a homeless looking guy asked them for a beer. Monica declined to give him one but said, "Here's three bucks, you can buy your own beer." The guy thanked them and went into the store. They lingered in the general vicinity, and as they were finally leaving they encountered the same guy eating a sandwich. To his credit, Matt said to him, "Hey, you were supposed to buy beer with that money."


Don't give the homeless guy anything. Invest the $20 in companies that manufacture cheap booze and other agents of homeless euthenazia.

Vern Olestra

Iowa: There is no "should" involved here. You can make your choice in most any direction and still be able to sleep at night.

That said...

You say "probably homeless". Just because someone comes at you all shabby looking doesn't mean they are homeless. I am sick to death of that schtick. How are you supposed to be able to tell what someone's economic/housing state is from a 10 second encounter on the street? Maybe they are unfortunate, down on their luck and don't deserve to be where they are in life. Maybe they're a parasitic lowlife who likes to stick things in their arm or up their nose for a good time and are out to scam you. Maybe they live all cozy and warm in a decent apartment, have an income and just hang out in the train station and bug people because they don't have anything better to do. The point is, you can't tell.

In my Mom's hometown in Ohio, there was this guy who always looked like he'd crawled out from under a tractor, badly in need of a bath and a shave. He also had enough in the bank to buy the whole damn county and then some. Of course, he wasn't out bugging people for spare change, either.

Hell, from what I've gathered from some of your posts here, Iowa, it sounds like _you_ could really use the $20. Don't forget: the first part of being socially responsible is to take care of yourself so that you don't become a burden to others. As the saying goes, pay yourself first.

Above all, just because someone is willing to pester you doesn't mean they need or deserve your little windfall.

If you feel the need to help out those in need (which I heartily applaud), find a charity that you like and give them a donation. Even better, if you have friends who need a hand, why not help them out instead? Make them dinner. Pay a bill for them. Buy them some nice warm clothes. That way, you know where the $$$ is going and know whether the person really needs or deserves your help. More than you can say for strangers pestering you out in public.

Dr Faustroll

20$..! how the lucky man you are !!! and what did you REALLY do ?
(sorry for my f*****g crappy english)

Brian Oregon

I like "give 10, keep 10."


I'm the "homeless" man and I was testing you. If you had given me the $20, I would have given you $2,000 to use as you wished.

Johnny Vandal

Slide him the $20. You got what you need don'cha?


If someone needs a hand, then you offer to buy them something to eat. Money isn't always the right answer. If there hungry (which they probably are) they'll take you up and you can.. If they say "no sorry money would be better... " and suddenly start expanding there story then , well, mosey along. Lunch is Grand Central will run you most of that 20 anyway.


I liked Tommy's response best: "Kept it and later donated it to a homeless shelter."

i can think of better options, but i certainly wouldn't divulge them to a forum full of these kinds of people. no offense, scumbags.


Just one other thing... I'm surprised at the number of "douchbag" answers... the sort of Southpark "I'd kick him in the balls and dance around him sayin I got money you don't haha" answers. I know some people are trying there damndest to be ironic (and just as many aren't), but it really just comes across as douchy. And Karma? Karma is a reealll bitch sometimes... just so you know.

Larry In Seattle

Like a previous commenter pointed out, swooping is invasive. I'd ask "Will you please stand back?" If he did, then I'd ask him what he needed. And size his up "need" up.

If he reeks of cheap booze and malt liquor or if he didn't step away, but ready to lurch, I'd suspect a fiening crackhead. Either way, if I just gave them money to him, I'd just be enabling him, thus propping up certain businesses, one legal, one not, with the same result.

If he was just dirty and unkempt, but friendly and otherwise respectful, I'd be more inclined to give him the $20.

First impressions mean a lot. He may have a deeper background to his story that may initially meet the eye. But all I know at that first moment is what I see.

Sister Hairy Hymen

I hate panhandlers however considering most of us here are maybe two to three paychecks of being on the streets ourselves I would have given the guy the twenty or bought him a meal and give him the change. I know I would want someone to help me out if needed. Obama Christ only has two hands.


karma has been pretty real in my experiences...but it took me too long to notice it. working good for me now.
if you don't see karma, then you are probably on the bad end of it.


That's a good one - I don't know what you should have done, although I probably would've said "sorry" and walked away. What did you do?


The freaking mean-spirited comments to this post are embarrassing. I knew WFMU was RUN by delusional libertarians but I didn't realize they comprised such a large part of the listenership.

Paul Shrug

You should have stuck it in your breast pocket and said, "Sorry, Mr. Madoff. I'm not falling for that one again."

Fawning Listener Ben

buy him $20 of nonperishable food.

okay, what did you do?

Michael Chagnon

He probably needed the booze more than you.

Howard H.

Never mind all that. Did you at least use tongs to pick up the $20 bill, and if you kept it, did you soak it in a tub of disinfectant later?

Howdy Dodad

I'd would've given him the $20 assuming it was the proper karmic thing to do and them regretted it 5 minutes later when I realized Fate would've placed it in the bum's hands if it was meant to be his. Dang, now I feel like I'm out $20.

SharpiesFor TheHomeless

make your donations to Sharpies for the Homeless

we distribute Sharpie markers to the homeless so they can make cardboard signs in order to panhandle without disturbing others.

Sharpies for the Homeless

p o b o x 8 6 5

n y, n y 1 0 1 6 3

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