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What to do about panhandlers?

BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
edited February 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Here in Edmonton, we have a little problem with panhandlers. While I was waiting for the bus, this guy took off with my bus fare, and I had to go back to where I was to get some more change for the bus. Can I get some advice on what to do in these situations? I really don't like to give to the "needy" (needy is in parenthesis because I don't believe they are needy) and I would like to get something better than a staggering "...uhhhh, okay here you go, here's a dollar" after saying no immediately.

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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited February 2010
    "I don't have any change." works in an age of bus passes and debit cards. Just insist that you have nothing on you.

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  • MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I usually just say sorry and keep on walking. If I'm stationary I just ignore them after that.

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  • Clint EastwoodClint Eastwood Speak No Evil. Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Say no and move on? Alternately threaten them with a severe beating.

    You should probably just stick with saying "No, I don't have any change"

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  • nevilleneville The Worst Gay (Seriously. The Worst!)Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I would just say "No, sorry"
    Ignoring them is rude, but say no firmly and you should be fine.
    If you let yourself be guilted... well, you let yourself.

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  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Duly noted. As a follow up question, there are some that get pretty aggressive. How do I prepare myself in case I encounter one of those guys?

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  • LewieP's MummyLewieP's Mummy Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Just walk away. We work with street people in Manchester, and only very rarely encounter problems - we give out food and clothing and stuff. The only real difficulties we have is if the guys are high, cos they're very occasionally agressive, then we just walk away.

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  • AwkAwk Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    i work downtown edmonton.

    dont give them goddamn change. it only encourages these pests. tell them you have no change, seriously.

  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Spending too much money eating out. That's about it. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I always just say "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me." and keep walking. Also, headphones. Gives you an excuse for ignoring them. I've VERY infrequently seen any that will bother you when you're wearing headphones.

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  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Alright, thanks for the replies. I'll have to be more assertive the next time I'm out and about.

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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Duly noted. As a follow up question, there are some that get pretty aggressive. How do I prepare myself in case I encounter one of those guys?

    Be aggressive back. These people prey on your fear and insecurity. Stand up to them and they'll leave you alone more often than not. Don't ever let someone make you feel uncomfortable, and don't ever hesitate to defend yourself.

    Fuck homeless people and panhandlers. You work hard for your money, and you don't owe them anything. If you cave in whenever someone asks you for money you're going to get marked, and anytime that person sees you on the street from then on they're going to hassle you.

  • DeciusDecius Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    When he says aggressive, he means physically as well as verbally. We have a problem in this city with homeless and panhandlers trying to take what has been denied to them politely.

    Stand up for yourself. Be assertive. Be aggressive back. Also don't be afraid to yell for help if need be.

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  • JokermanJokerman Love is careless in its choosing. Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    no need to ignore them, just be straight with them.
    Good advice in this thread.

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  • RaneadosRaneados Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    yeah don't ignore then

    just say "no"

    some of them might say something under their breath but most of them will just move along down the line

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  • TheDragonTheDragon Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Midshipman wrote: »
    I usually just say sorry and keep on walking. If I'm stationary I just ignore them after that.

    Exactly what I do, and it works all the time. They usually wish you a good day afterwards too! I think they appreciate that I didn't ignore them, and I'm not lying saying I got no change.

    Btw the tone and body language I give is "sorry, can't help you" not "i apologize" or "i feel sorry for you" or anything. Just one word "sorry", and they move on.

  • Red RoverRed Rover Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    What Esh said... I seldom even get asked if I'm wearing headphones.

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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino legally competent Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    your mileage may vary (depending on your race, looks, etc.) but you can try pretending to not understand english.

    a dick thing to do? you betcha. but often it's bewildering enough to aggressive panhandlers that by the time they're able to respond you're a dozen feet away.

    i can't count how many times this saved me from very aggressive folks while i was in Italy...not to mention i can actually claim i don't understand Italian all that well.

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  • RadioElectricRadioElectric Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    See, when I read the title of this thread I thought it was going to be talking about what "should" be done.

    i.e. If you give money to a homeless guy, will that ACTUALLY do them more harm than good? (as some people say)
    What about Big Issue sellers? (maybe just a UK phenomenon)
    What about those charities that put collection boxes up on the streets saying "don't give your change to a homeless person, put it in here, it'll help them more"? Are those actually helping the kind of people who ask for money on the street?

  • 815165815165 Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    See, when I read the title of this thread I thought it was going to be talking about what "should" be done.

    What about Big Issue sellers? (maybe just a UK phenomenon)
    While this is slightly off topic, this is a good read about how TBI operates and its' relationship with its' vendors. These are people who are working for a living (as much as anyone else who buys and sells is) and I think supporting them is a totally good idea.

    edit: Plus it's actually a very good magazine.

    edit2: To actually answer the OP's question: Just say no, you shouldn't be giving away anything you don't want to nor should you be hiding away from people who ask you for things. If someone is aggressive with you match their aggression in a controlled, defensive manner.

  • BladeXBladeX Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Electric: Those questions would be better suited to a D&D thread I would imagine.

    I usually just say sorry with the 'sorry can't help you' body language as has been mentioned or I'm listening to music so I don't get bothered.

  • GarickGarick Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If you don't want to give them any money? Just politely say no, remember that they are people just like you and treat them as you would want to be treated if you were in their situation.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    The second you see one walking towards you, "hey man, I need to get on the bus, do you have any change?"

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  • oracleoracle Registered User
    edited February 2010
    I live and work in downtown Vancouver, BC and on an average day I can't walk to work without getting asked at least 3 times along the way. To say I'm jaded is an understatement. Although they seemed to have mostly gotten rid of all of the aggressive ones for the Olympics...they will be back though.

    My tactic is when I see one coming towards me (I know who they all are now, and I can tell when they are coming up to ask for money or smokes) I just say very loudly (and probably come off sounding like a bitch, but whatever...) "I HAVE NO MONEY OR CIGARETTES" before they can even open their mouth. It seems to make some of them kind of mad, but they leave me alone.

    It's probably incredibly rude, but I've been living here for 7 years now and when you can't get through one friggin' day without somebody asking you for a handout...so jaded. *sigh* Also I think I have wierd issues around money, it literally infuriates me that I have busted my ass through school and shitty jobs to get myself to a better place and they think it's perfectly acceptable to ask for money because they felt like doing crack instead. RAGE. Anyways...

    TL;DR: Just say no and don't give them any money. Be rude if you have to.

  • illigillig Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    "hey man, you got any change?"
    "yep"
    ...
    "can i have it?"
    "nope"

    usually messes with them for a bit... and a confused bum is an entertaining bum :D

  • ceresceres Just your problem OoSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited February 2010
    When I lived in the UK, my then-SO told me never to give a panhandler anything because for many of them in London they actually do well enough at it that it's a career. I don't know how true that is, but I will say it was kind of funny how some of them weren't even trying; they put their hand out and expected something and didn't even bother looking at you. Someone actually tapped their foot at me!

    The Big Issue on the other hand is a fantastic program, in my opinion, and I really wish there was something like it here in the US. I bought one whenever offered, and I always read them.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It always annoys me when I buy a Big Issue and the seller does not want to give it to me. It seems generally to be used as a cover for begging. They kind of expect you to give them the money and not take the magazine - after all, if they sell all their magazines they need to buy some more. It totally put me off buying that magazine.

    Anyway, I don't give money to homeless people any more because I have become bitter and jaded due to age. I ignore them and try and avoid eye-contact. If they ask anyway, I shake my head.

    If you feel guilty, try setting up a direct debit to a good homelessness charity.

  • SaddlerSaddler Registered User
    edited February 2010
    It helps if you look like you know where you are and what you're doing. If you're in a place where you're looking all around like a tourist, I find it more likely that you'll be accosted. The other trick is to walk with a limp; because nobody bothers somebody with a limp. I usually just save that for special occasions. In your OP, you make it sound like you were robbed, which is pretty different from panhandling.

  • ForarForar #432 Already prepping for Toronto Fan Expo!Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I've worked in downtown Toronto for nearly a decade, so panhandlers are a pretty common occurrence. Doubly so when I used to work with the floor security staff at the largest mall in the area.

    You simply have to be firm. Can I spare some change? No. No I can't. Usually they'll leave you alone and move onto someone else if you're straightforward but polite.

    Some will press the issue. With these, I simply remain firm and walk away. If that's not an option, I ask them to leave me alone.

    The truly aggressive ones you have to treat with caution. As in all physical confrontations, your primary goal is to get away unscathed, but if that's not an option, do not be afraid to stand up to them and make a scene. Many of them play upon the instinct most people have to make a compromise and to not want to attract attention, but that's what you do. If need be, yell at them. Try to avoid using violence as anything but a last resort, but if someone who is potentially unstable and on the effects of god knows what is getting in your face, be prepared to defend yourself. I've never had this come about, but I've known people that did. Usually they back down around Stage 2, but at my size, I wouldn't want to pick a fight with me either. (which isn't meant as bragging, simply that at 6'4", they generally think twice about starting shit. If you're smaller than them, they might be more likely to try to intimidate you)

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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2010
    Just firm "No".

    The panhandlers are people that 99.99% of the time were ones that are kicked out of the shelter or don't want to go into the shelter / work through the process.

    In fact, it's a known 'code' around here that if you are panhandling, you ask once. If someone says no, you say 'god bless' or 'thank you' and leave them alone.

    The aggressive ones get sent on down the road by the other panhandlers :P

  • RadioElectricRadioElectric Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It always annoys me when I buy a Big Issue and the seller does not want to give it to me. It seems generally to be used as a cover for begging. They kind of expect you to give them the money and not take the magazine - after all, if they sell all their magazines they need to buy some more. It totally put me off buying that magazine.

    In Birmingham, if you say "No" to a Big Issue seller they very often follow up with "Then could you spare a donation for the homeless?" or similar. The line between Big Issue sellers and normal homeless people...

    ...wait, hang on, I'm writing this and I just had a thought (can anyone else smell burning?)...

    Anyway, the line between Big Issue sellers and normal beggars is blurred then.

    I did see a fight between a standard beggar and a Big Issue seller a few weeks ago. From what I could make out, the Big Issue seller was unhappy with the beggar for not trying to improve his situation. The beggar was angry with the Big Issue seller for (I shit you not) "selling out". Apparently he practises some prodigious and ground-breaking form of begging designed to spite "the man".

  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    This is all very good advice, and I thank you very much for it.

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  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It's a known fact that you don't go downtown in Kalamazoo after sundown. The panhandlers are everywhere, and a lot of them refuse to take "no, I has no change for you" for an answer.

    The city doesn't even think it's a goddamn problem. The main idea is that it's going to take a murder, rape, or pretty serious assault and battery charge to get the cops and the city council off thier asses.

    Of course, it doesn't help that they're mostly mental patients (who got dumped on the street after the state psychiatric hospital closed), and junkies looking for cash for a fix.

    My solution is to avoid going downtown unless I absolutely have to, and even then, go during daylight.

    As for you, I'd call my local city official/representative and complain. I'd try the police, too- they ARE responsible for public safety, after all.

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  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Live and work in downtown Edmonton too. LRT to work so I pass by the same "musicians" everyday waiting for the train. Strongly BUT POLITELY "No sorry" if confronted. If strongly confronted, take a walk around the block. It may inconvenience you for 5 minutes or miss a bus but it can work out a lot avoiding a serious confrontation.

    Note: A LOT of them just don't want to feel invisible. After acknowledging them and saying NO, they move on.

    Note2: I'm 6'3" 250 lbs so I get left alone.

  • Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Another fun one, if you're alone and not wearing headphones or talking on a phone, is to pretend to be deaf and give them inquisitive looks and fake sign language.

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  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Raiden333 wrote: »
    Another fun one, if you're alone and not wearing headphones or talking on a phone, is to pretend to be deaf and give them inquisitive looks and fake sign language.

    I suppose it might not occur to people right off the bat that a deaf person should be able to read lips. But then you just have them talking louder, yelling, trying to get you to flinch and show that you're not deaf, pantomiming you giving them money...

    I've seen better recommendations in this thread.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Wait, were you actually mugged by this guy, or did he just talk you into handing him your fare?

    edit: should add that my go-to response to panhandlers is "sorry man, you don't take credit cards do you?" If they say no, you give an apologetic look and move on. If they say "why yes I do!" I give'em a chuckle and move on.

    If one ever produces a card reader I'll be fucked, though.

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  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Dyscord wrote: »
    Wait, were you actually mugged by this guy, or did he just talk you into handing him your fare?

    edit: should add that my go-to response to panhandlers is "sorry man, you don't take credit cards do you?" If they say no, you give an apologetic look and move on. If they say "why yes I do!" I give'em a chuckle and move on.

    If one ever produces a card reader I'll be fucked, though.

    I was wondering this, too.

    There's a lot of people suggesting real rudeness in this thread, and I'm surprised. Sure, it's funny to you to say 'yeah, I've got loads of change, but you're not getting any', but it's a real dick move. Forget for a moment that the preconception is that the only reason these people are begging is that they need it for drugs or drink. It may be true, but it it worth pissing off a person legitimately in need for a little mirth?

    I'm not saying give money to every bum you see. If you want to give, there are charities. But I really don't think the passive-aggressiveness, evasion or insulting techniques are necessary.

    If you don't feel comfortable saying you don't have any change when you do, just say 'sorry man, I can't help you right now'. That's all you need. It's not a lie, it's pretty much exactly on the sentiment you want to give in any case, and the other guy doesn't feel like he's just been dissed just because he hasn't got a place to live or a job.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I too don't understand the urge to be rude

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  • billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Me three.

    I think people often forget that those are fellow human beings out there living on the streets...and no, they're not all "lazy" or not wanting help. Here in Vegas all of our shelters are completely overcrowded, so even if a lot of them wanted help, they wouldn't be able to get it.

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  • SmokeStacksSmokeStacks License Number 137596Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Offer a homeless guy some food next time. After a few of them refuse to take it I'm sure your heart will stop bleeding for those people.

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Oh god I hate Edmonton bums.

    I used to work at the IBM building downtown on Jasper Ave. Every fucking time I went out for a smoke there would be bums rooting through the ash trays. One time a couple native bums almost beat up a dude on his smoke break.

    To get rid of them either a) politely but firmly say no, sorry; or b) tell them to fuck off in as agressive a tone as you can.

    If they look threatening don't act aggressive though.

    Man, I fucking hate Edmonton bums. Fuck.

    edit: reading a lot of other posts, you guys don't understand Edmonton bums. They can get pretty aggressive. Compared to the homeless I usually see in Toronto, the ones in Edmonton are worse. Much worse. Both in quantity and temperament.

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