Professional begging

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So I’m sitting in a Dunkin’ Donuts, working away on USFL and Bleacher Report stuff. And a few moments ago a man came in, asking for money. He was heavy, probably about 50, tattoos covering his legs, a weathered black baseball cap covering his bald head.

He walked table to table, asking for money.

Actually, not merely asking for money. He is living in a shelter, and explained that it was a place that helped people recovering from addiction find their footing. The shelter, he said, offered a roof, meals, recovery instruction. And what he had to do, in exchange, was go around and “raise” money.

By, eh, begging.

This absolutely infuriates me.

I am, by no means, mad at the man—who seemed well-intended and sincere. No, what pisses me off is the shelter. There is nothing positive or credible about a program that offers services in exchange for professional begging. If you’re homeless and/or struggling with addiction, there are tons of reputable places across America that offer genuine treatment; that offer career planning; that offer protection and support. Pushing a guy out the door every morning with a bucket and a sad face is not genuine treatment. It’s mean. It’s demeaning. It’s a near-certain return to addiction and the streets. The person most in need of pride and skill receives neither.

I almost always offer to buy the man/woman a meal. But I am not encouraging that sort of program.