MR Community, Help Me, Advise Me [VERY LONG]

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by SC68Cal, Jul 11, 2006.

  1. SC68Cal macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    Okay, here's my story. On my lunchbreak to get some food. A man approached me afterwards and introduced himself and asked if he could sit down. Now, as a veteran of Temple University, I'll tell you that because we are a college located in a major city we have lots of homeless people that come and walk around our campus asking for money. It's a profitable venture for them since we're all niave and theres enough of us on campus that someone has to have change.

    So anyway, like I said. He sat down and began to talk to me, and I began to talk to him. It was a very nice chat and frankly he was very honest by saying that he wasn't interested in money (I believed him) and he just wanted to talk to someone. I know that people on the street barely get to talk to people, that was one of the things I walked away with from a Midnight Run (wikipedia link). He told me a lot about himself and about his life, and I listened. I was honestly interested because he seemed like he was being very sincere and honest. At some point the topic of walking came up, when I noticed his shoes and feet. I made a very knee jerk reaction and gave him $25 and a subway token and said to him, please, go down and get some sneakers and socks for yourself. It caught him by complete surprise. I was surprised at myself for doing it, but at the same time his feet were absolutely torn apart and how could I worry about $25 dollars that I was going to buy a pair of headphones with, when the guy literally had ratty sneakers without laces and no socks. He never asked for the money, and at many points in the discussion he said that he can't believe that I gave him that much money, and that in addition to the sneakers he was going to find a way to get a set of clothes and a hat.

    I think he's a really good guy deep down, and just has had some just god awful luck. At some point, the conversation basically came to “Is there a way that we can meet again? It's nice to be able to talk to someone, instead of being treated like an animal.”

    I went ahead and told him that I work on campus two days a week (did not say where) but I think I may have made a mistake. I told him where I'm going to be living on campus (building wise) and said that I would “keep an eye out for him.”

    Only afterwards I realized to my horror that I've given up too much information and the real nasty part of my personality thinks “Great, now he knows that there is one stupid sucker that he can keep getting money from” despite the fact that he never asked for money and I gave it to him of my own free will.

    Needless to say, I was a bit troubled, but felt good about giving him the money because he sounded very honest about getting the shoes and clothes.

    Until later today. Basically I went down to South Street to spend some free time and on the way back to the subway I was approached by another homeless man, who asked me for money. I had two dollars in my wallet and without thinking just gave it to him. I believe he noticed how I was carrying some cash, and then tried to sell me some weed (probably about as much as the two dollars I gave him was worth) and said “Just give me $20” I was like, sorry, I've got to go, and promptly walked away.

    I was very frustrated with myself when I realized that those two dollars that I gave him were in fact the same two dollars that I needed to purchase my fair on the subway. All my other bills were twenties and I really hate breaking them for subway tokens. Really hate it. I immediately went sour on the whole busniess of helping others and I felt like a big fat dumb hick idiot from the rich white suburbs for giving away my money so freely, and also resented how much of a big ****ING idiot he must have thought I was for trying to sell me a gram of weed for like 100 times what it must have been worth.

    To make matters worse!

    I get to the SEPTA trainstation, fumbling with all my stuff to purchase my ticket when AGAIN! I get hit up by a hobo. I TURN AND SEE ITS THE SAME ONE THAT HIT ME UP FOR WEED LITERALLY SIX BLOCKS BACK!!!!! I have no idea how he got there that fast! He beat me and I was using the subway!

    I missed my train by literally a minute, and ended up sitting on a platform bench stewing over this whole matter. (WHEN YET AGAIN I WAS ASKED BY A FEMAL HOMELESS PERSON IF I COULD SPARE CHANGE!!!! ARRRRRRGH!!!) I know it's not her fault and i'm not going to be like, damn all hobos who dare to ask me for money but I kept on getting reminded of how much of an idiot I felt like after the second homeless person.

    I decided to write this (I'm riding the 8:40 train back to my home). I'm just really upset about the second hobo trying to sell me the weed, the fact that I gave over my $2 so casually when I really should have used it for MY subway ride (as opposed to the subway ride of the second homeless person I suspect). I know I'm probably overreacting about the $20 bill that I had to break, but it's that and the fact that I met the same guy at the station and he asked me for money AGAIN.

    I think it feels a little better to vent it out, but I just felt like such a fool, and then in retrospect starting wondering if I had been a sucker to the first guy, and I'm worried that maybe I've made a slight mistake about telling him where I'm going to live this coming year. It's an absolutely huge apartment complex so it's not like he's going to sit on my porch or anything, but I think the worst that could possibly happen is that every time I leave for class he hits me up for money.

    On the totally opposite hand, I could be the only person in the entire world that that guy knows who actually has talked to him and reaffirmed to him that he is a human being, and is important enough that his opinion carries weight. Not to mention he (hopefully, like I said he promised) got a pair of shoes and socks and a set of clothes out. This coming august, I could be the only person he ever really talks to.

    The really not so nice part of me just thought about or how I could be the person he stabs one dark night as I walk back to the apartment building for $20 bucks.

    See what I mean?

    Help! I need advice, thoughts, anything.
  2. yankeefan24 macrumors 65816


    Dec 24, 2005
    You're right, it was long.

    I don't know about where you live, but in NYC, if you see someone living and sleeping on the streets, they are doing something wrong. NYC offers homeless shelters (normally in churches and stuff) for them. However, they do not allow alcohol or drugs in these shelters. If they are sleeping outside, they most likely have alcohol or drugs.

    I would never tell a homeless person where I live. Although I am stereotyping here, they don't have anything to lose, and being in a jail at least guarantee's them food and shelter. Remember that. I would buy an alarm immediately, if you do not have a roommate. You still should if you do though. Do not go in dark area's at night alone. Stay on big streets.

    The fact that this man wants to talk to you again in the future may also mean he will try to sell you drugs. This is where they cane make money.
  3. MacFan782040 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2003
    Scranton, PA
    Honestly, it seems to me like you just had (bad?) luck with the homeless people today and it was a unique experience that won't happen again.

    Lots of homeless have bad reputations, and I don't think they get much respect at all.

    By no means were you doing anything "wrong", as I see nothing ever wrong with helping out another human being.

    However, that being said, you are only one person and can only do so much. While you helped out the first guy, you had no obligation to help out anyone after that, including the first guy. You already did your good deed for the day, the others you shouldn't feel bad if you ignored them or said no. Sadly for some people, if you give them an inch, they take a yard.

    And I wouldn't worry about giving the information out, just next time, don't be so open with a stranger. My gut feeling says that he just wanted a friend, not somebody to haggle money from, and he doesn't know too much of your personal life.

    Just last week I was walking to the mall while my car was being worked on, and a guy asked me what the time was. I told him, and while he didn't bring up the money issue, he explained that he had no car and was trying to get home. I offered him $2 for the bus and he gracefully took it, and gave me this crappy hat (all he had) as a thank you gift. I took it, and although I never wear it, it reminds me of that day.

    You didn't do anything wrong...I wouldn't lose sleep on it. If you see the guy again, say hello, but I wouldn't get much past that.

    And dude, my good friend's Dad is one of the police commissioners (highest ranking) for drug and homicide division for Philadelphia. I got your back ;)

    PS- How are you online on the train? Do the SEPTA's have wireless?

    Take care
  4. medea macrumors 68030


    Aug 4, 2002
    Madison, Wi
    If you want to help the homeless then volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or check out something like food not bombs, but on the streets I don't give them my attention. There are a lot of cons out there and you never know who is dangerous and who is not. It was a horrible idea to give out so much personal info about yourself but hopefully it won't amount to anything.
  5. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    It's hard to say. Going off of what you wrote, I'd say the first guy was genuinely lonely and was looking for someone to talk to. If you see him again, as MacFan782040 said, say hi, and play it by ear after that. Do not give him any more money and if he keeps talking to you after several visits, chances are, he just wants to talk.

    ...However, a security system is always a good idea.
  6. SC68Cal thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 23, 2006
    Thank you everyone for the input. It is much appreciated.

    I don't think I need to worry about a security system. The apartment complex is a 12 story high rise, smack dab on Temple's campus which means there are more police in cars and bikes than you can shake a stick at, along with guardhouses at pretty much every corner.

    Temple is also lit at night, it's never dark on campus. I don't think I really should be worried about my safety, I've never even felt the need for a concealed carry permit like my father has (I come from a gun nut family), nor have I even bothered picking up a small mace can (which I probably should since I do spend a lot of time in the city at rather odd hours).

    (As a side note I wrote it using my bluetooth phone and dial up networking)
  7. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    Don't give money unless you get a service.

    If you are worried about the guy feet spend 10 minutes and take him into payless.

    If you want to avoid them all together, don't look, if you look they know you are a soft touch^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Heasy mark. Pay no attention. Don't look when they shout. If they get in front of you walk into them accidentally, good and hard. Shoulder check 1 and 10 will stay away.

    I never had a problem. Then again I look like I eat raw meat and dead babies.
  8. Leareth macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2004
    I carry bus vouchers on me so when some one asks me for money for the bus I will offer to pay for the bus with one of those, ie I get on the bus and they get on with and I use the voucher for them. If they ask for food money I offer to buy some food from the gazillion and one food places around here.
    If they refuse the voucher or food , they obviously dont want it for that and I politely walk away.

    As to the homeless shelters, here they operate only a few weeks a year mainly during the winter months, the street youth with their cats and dogs can't use those. Most of the adult homeless here have mental disorders and/or addictions, the young kids are mainly meth addicts to keep awake at night so no one steals their stuff since they have no place to keep them.

    I used to donate to the soup kitchens but then I saw that most (90%) are church run and they included a nice little sermon on moral life before handing out the food and blankets. What exactly is a "deserving poor"?

    I give to the food bank at my school, over 23% of our students use it regularly and I have to say occasionally I needed to as well. The libraries at my school have a system where you can pay for your late fees by bringing in a non-perishable food item , 1 item = $1 .
  9. CompUser Guest

    Hit them with a box or something- they could be diseased. I generally would not give money to a homeless person on the street unless you could tell they were sincere. The next time you see him check if he has some shoes. The best way to avoid them is not to make eye contact and don't pretend they are there. I know its mean, but they probably do bad things with the money.
  10. MultiM macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2006
    TO. I've moved!
    " Hit them with a box or something- they could be diseased. "

    There are no words to describe how I feel about this cold, heartless and demeaning comment. You should be ashamed, living at your PARENTS' beach house for the summer.

    As for the OP, I admire and respect you more than you can imagine. The fact that it was a completely unselfconcious gesture when you gave the first guy 25 bucks and then automaticlly gave your train fare away indicates to me that you have a soul and care for those less fortunate. I don't see "Middle Class Guilt", I see genuine care and concern.

    I agree that some precautions are a good idea, but do not ever lose your ability to empathise. It's priceless.

    I apologise if this sounds condescending, but I am very proud of you and what you are capable of.
  11. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2006
    Clovis, California
    LOL!!! :D :D :D

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