Homeless and Helpless. Really?

Every time I head down to The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship I get off at the Fullerton exit in Chicago. At this exit, in particular, there is ALWAYS someone begging for money, claiming to be down on their luck. In particular this guy has been monopolizing the “begging space” for weeks now.

His sign reads “Lost my wife to cancer and my home to debts. Thanks for any help given. God bless.”

Is this guy really homeless and helpless? Between his military fatigues and his sign he might have you reaching into your pocket.

I have to say I find it disgusting. While the sign may be true, this man can walk, talk, write and has enough ambition to walk up and down the street begging- I think he could at least fill out some applications and apply himself by trying to find a job.

His sign of course DOES NOT say, “Employ me!  Hard worker. Can’t find a job.. and then the rest of his pitch.”

About 3 weeks ago, I actually stopped, rolled down my window, and asked this same guy if he had access to the internet. He said he did. I then gave him my card and told him to email me. I offered, for free, to train him to build his own job or to help him find one. Of course I never heard from him.

This is what is wrong with America. Those who really need help struggle to find it because shmuck’s like this guy push people into trustless behavior.



Comments 8

  1. This is something that I see whenever I drive into the city as well, and it really makes you think twice about the way people end up in this situation, or even if it’s real.  I try and take an empathic approach and try to understand that some people either refuse to believe it’s happened to them, or they are so devastated that they cannot recover, even though they are offered help.  Either way, I see it as a mild or severe form of mental illness and/or a sense of entitlement, depending on the person or circumstances.  My first instinct is “I want to help”. Deeper though, we can see that the country is currently going through a large growth of social entitlement, where people feel they deserve something from others without working for it, and they will do whatever it takes to get it, wether it’s from their government creating new programs, or people feeling that everyone should be equal.
    As artists, we can learn from these people who are in these situations, and the entitlement mentality. 
    Artists should not feel they are entitled to an audience, a chance, to be accepted, or a job.  We must work hard at our craft, first to be fulfilled within ourselves, then to offer our gifts to others in a way that shows how it has changed our lives, in hopes that the message of our art will touch them and resonate with them.  The person on the street must first feel good about himself, then he/she will show their true gifts.  When I was in need of a cellist, I often wondered as I passed these people on the street, does any of them play the cello? 

  2. Hi Lisa — Actually I think this guy is showing some entrepreneurial
    spirit, getting dressed up, making a sign, and appealing to America’s laziness.
    It’s easy to roll down your window, pop a dollar into his bucket, and feel like
    you’ve satisfied your need to help the needy. He’s figured that out…help me
    and help yourself and get a blessing too. It’s no different than going into a
    fast food drive thru thinking you are going to be nourished. We want a fast
    solution to fulfill our immediate needs. It’s nice that you offered to help
    this guy but he probably knows more about sales than most people.

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  5.  Doug, I think your right- the sad thing is that sales is one of the few places you really can still make a good buck right now ethically and with integrity.

  6. I received this comment and felt inclined to post it since the anonymous writer wanted it to appear. I am including both their comment and my reply.

    On Jun 3, 2012, at 6:13 PM, Compost Indoors wrote:

    Wow, what an insensitive, short sighted, and small minded post. You obviously have no idea what it’s like to be homeless, to have no resources. A few basic issues: Who are your references? What’s the job history you’re gonna list? If you do manage to get a job, how do you explain it if you don’t show up because you’re mentally ill, or have some other issue that prevents you from keeping a reliable schedule?

    I haven’t found anything of value on your website in a while (if ever), but this is the final straw that’s driving me to stop keeping up with it. And, normally, I would leave a comment on your blog to record my displeasure publicly, you have an obnoxious popup that I’m unable to dismiss that prevents me from clicking on your website. I googled this address and can only hope it’s the correct one.

    On Jun 3, 2012, at 6:13 PM, Lisa Canning wrote:

    Dear Compost Indoors,
    I am keenly aware of people with homeless issues. And those who are sincere about their issues take steps to correct them. I have worked with homeless men for over a year in my church. I am familiar with their stories and struggles.  And for the record- these men did not beg. They sought out professional treatment for psychological issues and the majority were devoted to working on their issues and finding a way to get back on their feet. I have NO issue with truly helping the homeless. They deserve help. I have a problem with those who pretend to be something they are not in search of a free ride and harming the credibility of those who really need it.

    I find it pretty cowardly to write to me and to conceal who you are.

    Best of luck to you finding some blogs you like better.


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