Responding to WestCoast Woolie’s challenge to Personal Finance bloggers to donate this month, I decided to carry change for once (I’m usually cashless and use my debit cards) and give away a loonie each day to a panhandler. I was going to attempt to ‘connect’ briefly with the person rather than simply drop the change and walk on.
How’s the first week been? Well, not so much!
I don’t know where they’ve all gone, but panhandlers were in scare supply this week. Does anyone know when welfare wednesday is? Or is it possible that I have perceived way more ‘beggars’ in my neighbourhood than in fact exist? I’m sure I’ve come home irritated (and chiding myself about feeling that way) by multiple requests in the 3 blocks between the skytrain and my home.
I gave change only 3 times in the past week. The first guy was sitting with his dog outside CitizensBank, and I didn’t have time to give more than my money. So no connection. Another day I resorted to contributing to someone busking – he was appreciative but not who I was looking for.
Yesterday I had my most ‘template’ experience – a woman asking for money outside Waterfront Station, and it did reveal a little of myself: I have not seen her before, and she looked healthy. I gave her my change. I felt too awkward to engage any more deeply than responding “you’re welcome” briefly when she smiled and thanked me. And then sure enough my cynical side raised plenty of judgmental questions: is she a scam artist? is she one of those stories where she goes home to a place as nice as mine, courtesy of us suckers who forked over their cash? did she migrate from the u.s. because she heard canadians are a softer touch? I concluded that worst case scenario, I would prefer to be the scammed than the scammer. Not a very gracious conclusion, but the best I could do.
And speaking of the best I could do, yesterday I joined in the ‘lie in’ by the End Homelessness Clock in front of the Vancouver Art gallery.