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Attack Plan: Put The Beatdown On Professional Panhandlers

18 August 2008 5 Comments

I have a huge intolerance for panhandlers nowadays. I know it’s not a kind or compassionate position to take, but I can’t take it anymore. They are everywhere in my city, Las Vegas. It’s even worse than my old city, Detroit (believe it, it’s true).

The mayor in Las Vegas, Mayor Oscar Goodman, pushed through an ordinance last year that made it illegal to give money or food to the homeless. Oscar is awesome.

Oscar is famous in Vegas for defending the Mob, as their attorney, during the golden years of Vegas. His connections to organized crime are well known, so who am I to argue with him on his new law? You da man, Oscar. It’s your world and we are only visiting, brother. Can I buy you a drink?

(As a sidenote, I’m not a heartless SOB. I am big believer in charity and giving to the needy. I give when I can to needy groups and help others who are less fortunate – with my money and my time. This article is about chronic panhandlers.)

If you don’t live in Vegas, though, your city may have a different view on this issue. I can guarantee you public officials don’t like the idea of panhandlers any more than I do and there is some ordinance on the books, probably not enforced all that well, against the beggars. It’s not always politically correct, though, to say bad stuff or round up the homeless.

However, if you have to do your own enforcing of the local laws, you need a plan…an Attack Plan.

If you have time, buy what they need for them.

Want to sort out the professionals from the truly needy? Simply ask them what they need and you will be happy to buy it for them. If you have the time, do it. The beggars who are looking to buy a coffee or soda, will gladly take your compassion and time to heart. If they take you up on your offer, you better perform though. Nothing worse than punking out the honest, needy people after getting their hopes up.

The professional panhandlers will give you the same answer every time: 1) I need money for the bus to get back home, or 2) My car ran out of gas and I just need to fill up my tank. Don’t EVER fall for these. It is always bunch of crap and giving them money is like giving crack to the crackhead. When they scoff at your suggestion and say you’re a jerk, follow these steps…

Call out the professionals for what they are…

Punks. They are scamming, conniving, worthless pieces of crap that Oscar completely knows how to deal with. Be careful, though. Unless you are Bruce Lee (which you’re not because he’s dead) or are carrying some kind of heat, things can get ugly quick. In that case, find a bar, take him in there, and then follow these steps.

Get approached by enough panhandlers over time and you will be able to tell the difference. Even if you get it wrong and call out some poor fella just looking for a doughnut, you will still feel just fine. You followed your instincts and listened to your gut which is all you can do. Remember, the professionals are called professionals for a reason.

Be the alpha dog.

Ever watch The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic? You should. The guy is the, freaking, man. There are so many similarities between humans and animals, it’s crazy. When he has a dog that comes at him barking and growling, looking for a mid-afternoon snack of your fingers or a chunk of you’re a$, he simply takes a couple steps towards that dog and stares him down.

Humans, just like animals, can sense weakness and timidity. If they are aggressive, trying to get something by using intimidation, they will sense your being scared or taken back and be even more aggressive. If they sense weakness, they will pounce on it as an opportunity.

Nip this in the bud immediately. If a panhandler comes at you aggressively, stare them down, look them in the eye and let them know you mean business. Your generosity or lack there of, is COMPLETELY up to you and it will not persuaded by a bully or psycho. If they think you are sane and will succumb to their tactics just to get rid of them, let them know they are messing with the wrong hombre…

Ask them to come to church with you.

Want to let them know you are on the edge as much as anyone? Want to communicate you took all your crazy pills this morning and are ready for just about anything?

Tell them you will help as long as they come to your church and pray with you.
Tell them you will need 3 forms of identification before collecting their tickets.
Tell them you see the snakes, too. And if the crab people would just stop laughing for a minute, you could hear the crying of chipmunks much better than before the accident.

Whatever it is, have fun with those overbearing panhandlers that just won’t take no for answer. After all, if you aren’t having fun, it’s not worth doing…

Teach them features and benefits.

The first rule of successful sales is to be able to handle rejection. Think about these folks and how much they get rejected on a daily basis. If only they had some proper training in delivering the message of features and benefits, they would make killer salespeople.

Some experts say NEVER give them money – even the ones that are truly needy. I have done it before though, since I was able to sort out who was really needy and who was playing me. But if you really wanted to follow the advice of the experts and not give money, then teach them how to sell. It will be giving the gift of life to someone who needs a break. Features and benefits…Features and benefits…

I gave your money to that guy over there.

When they ask you for some spare change or money, and you know you are staring down a professional, then tell them you just gave all your change to the other guy who just hit you up. Tell them you normally give a little to each so everyone can buy their cigarettes, but the other guy was just too pushy and didn’t care about his fellow panhandlers.

This should give you a small window for a quick exit. Take the opportunity to walk away quickly, but if you are really interested to see how it all shakes out, take a peak behind you. The best case scenario is that he leaves you alone and goes to the next person. However, in rare instances, he will believe you and decide to go claim his share from the other beggar. It could get interesting, but remember, don’t break you stride.

I don’t really encourage this one for the faint of heart. There is no telling what could happen, and if you are not Bruce Lee, well, you know.

Don’t have time…God bless you and stay safe.

When all else fails, you have to be honest with the panhandler and tell them you don’t have the time, money or energy to deal with them right now. It might actually be the best alternative all together. Honesty is important and being honest should get them to stop.

OK, maybe not, but still, you are honest with yourself and simply don’t want to deal with them right now. Tell them that God loves them, you love them, and you want them to be safe out there. You will do your best to help out the next time. In all fairness, things are tough and people need help.

Manliness in this area can be a struggle. You want to be charitable and helpful, but what is the right answer? People need tough love at times and at other times, truly need charity. In any event, your first goal is to protect/provide for yourself and your family. Once that is safe, then you can do whatever you want in these situations.


  • Hayden Tompkins said:

    I tell ’em the truth: who carries cash nowadays? I wonder how they still ‘make it’. LOVE the dog whisperer reference!

    Hayden Tompkinss last blog post..Bicycle! Green! Buns of Steel!

  • Mike Bates said:

    I agree with Hayden, that’s a terrific answer (and usually true in my case). Though I do believe that, if you have the time (but you probably don’t because, let’s face it, you’re on your way somewhere) and the means, you should try to get them what they need. I view panhandling very differently from street performing. If someone is halfway decent and has a hat out while they play the sax or washboard or something, I’m inclined to give.

    Your final solution, though, to dedicate your time and money to charitable works that may help the homeless in a more longterm sense is the best one. Shelters, kitchens, half-way houses, churches, and Habitat For Humanity all need volunteers.

    Good article, Kevin.

  • Kevin (author) said:

    Thanks Hayden and Mike…

  • Gabe said:

    a few months ago i had a guy hit me up for some gas money while i was putting air in my tires. i told him to wait a sec and id help him out. i filled my tires, and then i pulled out the 5 gallon gas can i had in the trunk of my car. i told him id fill it and take him and the gas to his car if he told me where his car is at. he looked at me, smiled, and said “its cool man, you win.” i drove off and watched him hit up the next guy to pull in. and dang, it felt great to call him out and know that he wasn’t gonna get a dime from me.

  • HGH said:

    With all the doggone snow we have had recently I am stuck indoors, fortunately there is the internet, thanks for giving me something to do. 🙂

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