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mgreven

Sob Stories on the Street

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So I notice more and more that people don't ask for money on the street, but they tell a sob story. I ran out of gas and just need a few bucks ... I just need bus fare to get home to Kalamazoo ... someone took my wallet and I need a taxiride - I've heard all of these in the last year.

Tonight we walked by a lady after dinner at Cherry Deli (yum!) and she just said "Hi" and we said "Hi" back and kept walking. Funny thing is, that when I ran after my son who took off down the sidewalk and my wife was alone, she called at my wife and ran up to her and gave her the sob story that she ran out of gas and needs five bucks to go get gas in a can. My wife talked to her, but honestly had no money. Once I came back we left because I too had no money, plus I had heard a similar story many times here and in other cities.

Then as I came out of Family Fare on Leonard later a guy hit me up for money.

This got me thinking...what do you do to people like this? I'm usually the skeptic and very rarely have cash anyway but always leave thinking "What if they were legit and I didn't help?"

What are your thoughts?

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You know, I think these bums are starting to appear everywhere around the city.

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There was one outside of Urban Mill the other day, and she had some story about a sick relative in Petoskey that she needed to get to, and just needed some money for gas. She even showed me her driver's license. I asked her if she had a credit card, and she said no. I asked her where her car was, and she pointed "over around over there".

I gave her nothing. I told her she should just be honest and say she's broke and has no money.

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I hear those often while wifi-ing out front of the Friends. They're from Detroit, don't know the area, need to get to cousin/uncle on Alpine (it's always Alpine). One time I pulled up a map to show how it's only a couple miles to walk there.

Once a fellow was wandering up and down MC saying hi to passers-by. He'd then reconsider and return to the person he just passed to proffer the sob story.

Another time a fellow came out of the dog place with a couple dogs, chiops, and a drink. Sat at the table eating, making conversation. After determining that I was a Nice Person, on came the story.

Funny how I never bring my wallet with me.

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Downtown with all its suit and tie folk you know people will hit up for money down there. Of course with all the professional grifters around you'd think they would have a point-of-sale machine for master cards. I stopped carrying cash, because its a grown up thing to do and wished I could help folks out that needed twenty five cents to cover their fare on the Metra or CTA. What's bus fare -- nothing? but when they start asking for gas money you just have to wonder. At least spread out the burden a little bit and hit up many people for a dollar or less :dontknow:

My grandfather was approached once. He was convinced the fellow needed money to get some gas, so the nice gentlemen my grandfather was he asked if he could go fetch the gas himself. The guy quickly said, "ah no thanks."

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If they say they need gas, go to the gas station with them. If they need a couple bucks for food, go to the store and buy them food. 9 times out of 10 they just want the money for alcohol/drugs.

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I actually had one knock on my door at home asking me if he could do yard work to earn 20 bucks to take a bus to Lansing. I said i had no yard work and he proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with my yard and got pretty nasty.

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I agree with the idea of buying people food or whatever it is they are asking for. I have given cash before, though I very rarely carry cash, sometimes people are thankful but it always gets me when someone is angry with how little you give them. There have been times that I give my last dollar and the person gets angry and starts saying give me another two dollars I know you have it.

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I actually had a crazy sob story just recently. I was at Petsmart on 28th street, and when I was getting into my car this women walked up to me and started telling me how she had two sick little kids at home (she looked like she was at least 60...), and she needed to get to the grocery store, and needed to take the bus there, and then get back to Kalamazoo. She then started crying...sort of...and told me she had diabetes and really needed money. I rarely carry cash, so I didn't help her...however I'm not sure I woud have if I did. After me, she approached a man getting into his car, he gave her money. I then watched her walk west down 28th street...to me it would make more sense if she'd walk east...you know...towards the grocery store...or at least to the closest bus stop (which I think is near 28th and east paris). I also couldn't figure out why she came all the way to grand rapids to grocery shop...

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A few months ago, while pumping gas at the Admiral by Fulton/131, I was approached by a guy who "needed gas" (to get to Alpine--Veloise). I couldn't give him cash, as I only had plastic. He had an empty gas can and a good sob story. So, being the fool that I am, I offered to put a couple of dollars in his can. Before I knew it, I had put $5 in his can...it was full. He said thanks, I felt like I did my good deed for the day, and we parted ways.

THEN, while at the light, I watched the a-hole walk next to the building and pour out the $5 in gas I just bought for him!! I have never given anybody ANYTHING since then. I just tell them that I don't carry cash.

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A few months ago, while pumping gas at the Admiral by Fulton/131, I was approached by a guy who "needed gas" (to get to Alpine--Veloise). I couldn't give him cash, as I only had plastic. He had an empty gas can and a good sob story. So, being the fool that I am, I offered to put a couple of dollars in his can. Before I knew it, I had put $5 in his can...it was full. He said thanks, I felt like I did my good deed for the day, and we parted ways.

THEN, while at the light, I watched the a-hole walked next to the building and pour out the $5 in gas I just bought for him!! I have never given anybody ANYTHING since then. I just tell them that I don't carry cash.

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There was one outside of Urban Mill the other day, and she had some story about a sick relative in Petoskey that she needed to get to, and just needed some money for gas. She even showed me her driver's license. I asked her if she had a credit card, and she said no. I asked her where her car was, and she pointed "over around over there".

I gave her nothing. I told her she should just be honest and say she's broke and has no money.

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Holy crap, I got hit up by the same woman at the Meijer on Plainfield a long time ago. Was she shorter with glasses? Florida driver's license?

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Yes. She made it a point to show me her tattered drivers license.

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Another incident:

I was leaving the bar when I overheard a couple of "bums" talking to eachother. They appeared to be husband and wife/boyfriend and girlfriend. They were making their plan to scam people!

"I'll tell them I'm sick, you start crying" etc...

They were planning where to go (which bars/restaurants had the richest and most giving patrons), which scam to use, etc. It made me sick. I hope we can get a grip on our homeless problem here, as I think it's really holding us back as a city.

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The sick relative in Petosky lady gets around. She approached a group of us up on Northland Drive in the Family Fare/Starbucks parking lot in January.

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Same Lady hit me and my Father inlaw up at the Home Depot on 28th and Patterson. My father inlaw gave her $20.

Same story sick relative in petosky and needed to get up there. Showed drivers licence.

I really should have offered to take her to the gas station rather than let him give cash.

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About 15 years ago, the city of GR (or somebody) gave businesses downtown stacks of "meal coupons" to give to their employees so that when they were approached on the street, they could give a free meal at God's Kitchen or whatever, rather than cash -- knowing that cash would just be used at the party store.

It was amazing to see the so-called homeless rip the coupons up and throw them on the ground.

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My standard reply is, "This is Michigan--nobody has any money."

I'm surprised how many folks on this board have actually fallen for these stories and handed over the dough!

If that's the case...

Dearest fellow Urban Planeteers,

My feet hurt and my husband lost his watch. Our car only runs on three cylinders, and we can't afford a new roof this year. Although these facts may seem unrelated, surely you can open your hearts and wallets to us? < random sobbing >

Your great friend,

Zenstyle

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My standard reply is, "This is Michigan--nobody has any money."

I'm surprised how many folks on this board have actually fallen for these stories and handed over the dough!

If that's the case...

Dearest fellow Urban Planeteers,

My feet hurt and my husband lost his watch. Our car only runs on three cylinders, and we can't afford a new roof this year. Although these facts may seem unrelated, surely you can open your hearts and wallets to us? < random sobbing >

Your great friend,

Zenstyle

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I don't carry cash. That means a) I don't have to lie and b) I don't have to feel guilty.

And really, it's all about me anyway isn't it? ;)

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I don't carry cash, either.

A couple of years ago when I lived on Monroe Center, I was walking home from the parking ramp when a guy approached me. It was dusk, and I was walking fast. He asked me for money. I told him I didn't have any. Then he said, "Don't you have any money in your purse?" As he said this, he came towards me. Needless to say, I was sufficiently startled and rudely told him, "NO!" He backed off.

Many years ago, when Monroe Center was still a mall and they had food vendors at lunch time, I was brown-bagging it and one day as I got ready to eat my sandwich, this guy sat down next to me, said he was hungry, and asked me for some food. Well, I was hungry, too, and barely making ends meet, so I wasn't about to give up my sandwich. So I offered him a bag of Cheez Curls instead.

And he refused it! (Wasn't good enough for him? Was the sandwich that much more attractive? I thought this guy was hungry. Heck, if I was begging for food, I certainly wouldn't turn down a bag of Cheez Curls.)

Beggars can't be choosers, right?

These people sure have a lot of nerve.

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I had the strangest thing happen to me as I was walking out of work a man approached me on Bartlett with this conversation: (This was Thursday, when it was ooohhh 83F? 84F?)

"Man its so hot out here, can you give me a ride, just up the road to the corner?"

I politely refused his request, since I was in a hurry, and had to be to another job in half an hour.

After my first decline he said:

"Come on man, all I have to get is some booze and some cigarettes, I'm not gonna rob you or anything, and its hot!"

Now I had already walked five blocks to get to my car, and I saw this guy coming across the street from Heartside park... I'm a man of a stocky stature, and had no trouble walking the five blocks to my car. It felt quite refreshing. This guy only walks across Ionia, and is trying to bum a ride off me so he can get to Division...

I will say though, at least the guy was somewhat honest about his intentions.

Back in college I had a guy stop me in the street saying "You know walking is gonna kill your knees you should get a bike!" While he is probably true givem my stature, since I had the time, and he didn't ask for cash I engaged in this conversation. He talked about how he preferred Schwins over Mongoose because "Mongoose was just hyped up Huffy ****" He told me a lot of interesting things about bikes... kinda fun that one.

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My usual diversionary tactic is to take the counter offensive before they get a chance. You know when you're about to get panhandled, so just ask them for money first. It works like magic.

I will however, as a rule, give any spare change to anybody who asks me for money for booze. Honesty will buy you a beer.

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