To The Daily Sun,
I wanted to write something about the panhandling issue, given that it has been in the public eye recently. Unfortunately, this problem is so complex. I’ll give you a situation:
I used to drive methadone patients to their doses in the morning, there was this couple I used to pick up. Let’s call them Steve and Wanda (not their real names).
Steve and Wanda had been on methadone to deal with their heroin addiction and had been doing well with it. They both had criminal records and as such had trouble getting job. Both had been working for a woman who owned a restaurant who was struggling with an alcohol problem and hadn’t been paying them because this restaurant's owner's business was in the process of shutting down due to mismanagement. But because of their criminal past, they couldn’t get decent jobs, so they stuck it out, only to be not paid at the end of things.
They were taken into a family member's home. Both were fairly unemployable, pretty beaten up by life. Had done their share of mistakes but were trying at least to do right as best they knew how and were able to. Homeless many times, desperate, pretty much had given up on life, judged by people, dumped on, etc...
When they were really broke they used to stand at the local on-ramp and “fly a sign.” On the sign they wrote, “Homeless, please help.” They weren’t technically homeless because they had a roof over their heads. But their lives were so wrecked and they were so unemployable that they were desperate enough to lie about their situation.
They were telling me how they felt bad about lying but just didn’t know what to do. I offered them the advice that maybe they could fly a sign that said “Very poor. Trying. Please Help” or something to that effect.
There are people panhandling that take advantage of other's kindnesses. But there are plenty of people that are just desperate, unloved, crapped on by society that just don’t know what else to do.
Everyone has a struggle that you know nothing about. Be kind, always. Sure, there are those that take advantage of others. But sometimes people are just broken, lost and hurting.