A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Worse than Jehovah's Witnesses

Leslie and I are sitting in the front room debating whose turn it is to take the dog out for a poop, when there's a massive banging on the back door. We both jump. I don't get up, because we don't answer the back door. Our neighbor's back door is right next to ours, so it's hard to tell if someone's knocking on ours or theirs. We use the front, which has a ringer. That, and our neighbors to the back are extremely creepy.

Even though I wasn't going to answer the door, I'm paranoid and I decide to check. Along the way my bowie knife is slipped from it's hiding spot. There isn't a room in this house without a blade close by. Like I said, I'm paranoid.

No one is at the back door, but now our front door ringer goes off. I step into the community hallway and open the door. A panting, overweight woman whom I've never seen before engages me, already halfway through her first sentence. It seems that, unfortunately, she had some family coming in from town and she was supposed to meet them up around the corner, but they got lost and couldn't follow their directions, and her sister is sick, and she has the keys to someone's home....and because of all of that she needed some money.

It was a crappy version of a halfway decent con. Usually they'll come up to you with a faster story (if you can't follow it then you'll just assume they're out of breath, not that they're full of it), even showing you their driver's license to show they're not just begging for money. "Loan me a few dollars for a cab ride, and I swear I'll pay you back." It happened to me the first day we lived here. Some guy comes running up claiming that he just had a fire in his house, flashed his ID, and something something he needed money. I was taken aback and just dumb enough to give him a couple bucks.

Each of these cons is better than the next. There's a lady who walks around Pet Smart on Lawndale with a little girl in tow, saying she missed her bus and needs money for a cab. She never seems to have a problem walking back to her house, somewhere on the other side of Battleground. The least she could do is actually get a cab for the kid's sake.

Dealing with beggars and panhandlers is something we all have to deal with in Greensboro, but I still can't help feeling bad. What if this is that one person out of a hundred that actually needs the money? They're being turned away because of the other 99 lazy pieces of shit who'd rather beg for it.

So I test the stranger on my front step. Those are keys for whose home?

Oh they're, uh, for, uh, my mom's.

And she's the one that's sick?

Yeah, she's got the flu.

Uh huh. Sorry ma'am, I can't help you. I close the door, thinking that she might be able to actually earn some money off that routine if she practiced a bit. Then that wave of guilt.

"Luke, you've got money. You may be broke, but you can spare a dollar." I laugh to myself when I realize my excuse that I "didn't have any cash on me" was actually true. But I still feel bad.

Then my girlfriend, who had been watching from the window, tells me that same lady had asked her for some money earlier. Apparently her friend's car broke down, and she "needed the money for a cab." That seems to be the popular line. Consider the guilt erased.

So take warning. The beggars are no longer content to sit on street corners or wander around gas stations at night. They've figured out where the people with jobs live, and they're coming over.

3 Comments:

Blogger Joe Killian said...

This happened to me, Chris and Kitty some months ago. We blogged about it then. It is, indeed, a little creepy.

Not because I mind being pan handled - but because there's something a little intimidating about being pan handled at your front door in the middle of the night. It's not an overt threat, but it's implied. If I answer the door at 6'1'' and more than 200 lbs it's more annoying than scary. If my girlfriend is home alone and she answers the door to find the same size guy on the other side asking for money...now that's a little scary.

7/15/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Luke McIntyre said...

It's definitely intrusive, if not covertly aggressive, and being intrusive at my home is something I view as a threat -- hence the 15-inch blade that was resting out of sight against the doorjamb. It may have been overkill for that particular situation, but I didn't know that until I got there. I'd like to think that my paranoia could more accurately be described as being prepared.

7/17/2006 12:35:00 AM  
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4/12/2007 07:34:00 AM  

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