Cold Cruel World, Cold Cruel Response

I stopped at a drug store (chemist, for you UK folks if my American->English translator is working) on my way home from work tonight. We’ve gotten to the part of the year when it’s full dark by the time I’m on my way home, so after the shopping errand I was walking out to my car in the dark parking lot.

As I got into my car a young man in a hooded sweatshirt came up towards me and the car and started into a spiel about being cold and hungry. By that time, I was in the car with the door locked, and he came right up to my window.

I put on my best I’m Dangerous face and in my best I’m Dangerous voice I said “Get away from the car.”

Mr. Sweatshirt almost jumped back from the car window, his hands in the air, and said “OK, OK, I’m going.” and he went.

Well, after I reassured myself that weaponry was, yes, in easy reach (and no, it’s not a gun) I had a brief moment of guilt thinking that maybe this gun really was down on his luck and I just scared the shit out of him. Just for a moment. Because this is a dangerous world and I just couldn’t take the chance. Coming out of the dark, from around an SUV, and approaching just a little too fast and too close creeped me out and set off my alarm bells.

Really, I’m just as happy that all I had to do was unpack my “war face” But it does make me sad that the world has to be that kind of place.

And then I got to wondering just what it is I do when I do the “look and sound mean” routine. This isn’t the first guy to back off quickly and get lost. Hey, I’m small and female - I don’t think I look that threatening size-wise so that’s not it. Some of it comes from exuding absolute self-confidence in my ability to defend myself, if necessary, but I doubt that’s the whole of it.

Well, whatever. It’s over and no harm done. But I’m still a little bummed out about it all.

He should be doing his panhandling during daylight and staying at a shelter at night. He certainly shouldn’t be approaching women in a dark parking lot. You did nothing wrong. Don’t worry about it.

I’m with Ashtar.

After a seven-month period of working with the homeless in college, I feel zero sympathy for 99% of them. Hell, just today I was driving off the exit ramp on the I-71 freeway in Columbus today when I saw one of the many “homeless vets” who camp out at such places with signs begging for money. (And it’s amzing how many “homeless vets” feel the need to do this)
He actually had a nice bike next to him, and as I passed I yelled “sell the bike.”

In Dallas, we have (or should I say had, given a recent ban on panhandling) beggars at many corners. You pretty much learn to ignore them, but I’ve never been approached - unless you count the folks wearing white taking donations for some unknown charity. Dallas recently passed an ordinance that bans panhandlers - and that includes the firefighters passing the boot for a well-known charity (idiots, the lot of them).
The only panhandler I ever gave money to was a guy sitting under the Dallas Tollway underpass with his beautiful dog. I gave him a $20 and asked him if he was taking care of the dog, and he reassured me that he was. There are plenty of shelters in Dallas for humans, but none for critters.
Broomstick, don’t worry about it; as Lord Ashtar said, it wasn’t very smart of him to approach you at night.

As others have noted he’s an idiot for approaching you in a dark parking lot at night. He’s lucky you weren’t packing a gun. Even panhandlers have to exercise some common sense.

Even though you may feel badly, your safety comes first. He may have had no intention of harming you, but you have to think about your own safety first.

Just one side note…

Although most panhandlers are probably not legit, I’m not sure I’d lump firefighters passing the boot for a well-known charity in as “idiots.” But that is just MHO. You may not agree with the charity involved and you may not want to give, but I would hardly call these people idiots.

They’re idiots for trying to raise money that way. It causes MASSIVE safety hazards. Drivers are trying to stop in the middle of a busy intersection, the firefighters are darting between cars, and it’s generally a mess.

{from the OP}

Don’t discount your alarm bells. Maybe he WAS innocent. But maybe he was looking for a victim, and you told him by voice and mannerism that you’re not a victim. I’m glad you’re here to tell us that you feel a bit guilty.

I actually don’t–no need to really look for anything mysterious beyond that.

I look at it this way: most predators, barring desperation or illness, will go after prey who appears weak. There’s lots of misty-eyed talk about this kind of thing about how wolves strengthen the herd and the harmony of nature, hakuna matata, praise Ra and pass the incense, which is fine and good–but it comes down to, predators just want an easy lunch, and want to avoid trouble in getting it. Going after the weak is the best way to go about that.

A huge part of self-defense is simply that exuding of confidence, and the ability to really show it quickly is what that “war face” business sounds like. Just a way of communicating “Right now, I am about the farthest from an easy lunch you can be; try to have me for lunch, and I’m going to kill and eat you instead.” Whether in subtext against a possible human predator (and yes, of course he most likely was just someone going after a handout in a superbly dysfunctional way, but assuming the worst), or against a big dog giving you the hairy eyeball, it’s about the same. In either case, if they really truly want to hurt you and damn the ease or lack thereof, you’re most likely fucked (which is where having a) an escape route (preferable) or b) a weapon comes into play); if not, the war-face sparks that crucial reevaluation of which lunch-line to stand in and which buffet to vacate.

There, that metaphor’s now throughly broken. (Like I said, it’s all about ease of use. :slight_smile: )

Ah! They’re 1920s-style Lord Ashtars.

(In other words, I agree).

Probably just needed a little oil.

I would. Who else would get away with blocking the roads and stopping every car to ask for money? My Dad told one of them he didn’t have any change, the guy basically called my dad a liar, my dad staring explaining how he was very close to having to apply for bankcruptcy, and the firefighter told him to fuck off.

Don’t you just love charity drives that border on legalized extortion? :rolleyes:

Anyhow, part of it is that, working in the Chicago Loop, I run a gaunlet of beggers and panhandlers almost daily. Makes me want to scream “FUCK NO I’M NOT GIVING YOU ANY MONEY GET A GODDAMNED JOB. SUCK DICK FOR DOLLARS, ASSHOLE” but most of the time I just stomp by and ignore the outstretched hands and pleas. And the “legit” charities are almost as bad. And kids selling candy bars - I am so fucking sick of having to plow through kids demanding I buy their candy every time I go into the grocery or drug store. Especially the ones trained to start crying when you say “no”. (If the waterworks turn on and off too fast you know it’s an act.)

Just makes me sad that the world is the sort of place where I have to assume the beggars and “charities” are all con artists and worry about having to defend myself against physical violence. I don’t like real life violence. I could very happily live another hundred years without ever needing to harm another human being.

Oh, well, at least it’s the weekend now - can hide out in the house most of the next two days. Probably need a little dose of TLC to tide me over until my vacation week comes around (and here’s hoping nothing gets in the way of that)

I’ve had two panhandlers follow me down the street recently after I told them I wasn’t giving them anything. The first one my husband scared off (he can be pretty scary when he need to be) but the second one…

I told him to go away and he shouted, “No, you go away! You go away, you ($*&%!” and kept following. So I said, calmly, “How would you like it if I called the cops?” and he shouted, “Call the cops! I don’t give a fuck about the cops!”

So I did.

If you feel you are being threatened, 999,999,999 times out of a billion you really are. And the police are there to help you. Call them if you are being harrassed – they will come out and harrass the panhandler for you. And maybe the panhandler will learn something.

I will never, ever give one money.

Broomstick, I also work in the Loop, and at least once a week there’s this guy on Monroe saying, “Spare fifty cent?”. He’s always there during rush hour, and it makes me mad that it makes me mad. I mean, I know I see the same people walking to the same places everyday, so I assume that this guy must realize that he’s begging for change from the same people over and over… And it seems that he’s getting more insistent each time.

But there’s two things that bug me most. 1) Perhaps he wouldn’t be in the position he’s in if he would take those hours of hard work panhandling and instead endeavored with that much focus to change his life, and 2) I’ve seen him also listening to a nice discman. WTF?

Yeah, I’d like to just not have to take responsibility for dealing with my own financial difficulties and my personal hardships, but instead I go to work. (Which of course I just looooooove cuz it’s so fufilling and fun.) :rolleyes:

And, Jesus, I’m about the most liberal person I know.

You didn’t back over him, so no worries.

"In Dallas, we have (or should I say had, given a recent ban on panhandling) beggars at many corners. "

It’s true. I work in Dallas and had many an uncomfortable moment at an intersection. Happily, all panhandlers are now relegated to the 'burbs of Arlington and the H-E-B area. It’s only a matter of time before they pass their own ban.

Only one time have I given money to a panhandler. He had a sign that said “Why lie? I need beer.” I thought the honestly alone was worth $5.

  • PW

Being a big ugly guy I don’t have too many problems with this. :: shrug ::

A group of us were on call at the local Planned Parenthood clinic as we were willing to bring any woman in on our bikes that wanted to go.

LOL We used to tell them they could wear fur coats too if they wanted to. :::::: sigh :: never was nuff trouble around that we got to do it.

Big and ugly has it’s uses.

I got so sick of the panhandlers in Chicago I finally moved. Yes, believe it or not, that was the number one reason I moved from Chicago.

Here’s a pleasant story …

A friend of mine worked downtown. He said every day this lady and her young daughter would stand by his place of business and panhandle. The lady and the little girl would use the restroom in the lobby of his building. One day, one of his female co-workers was using the lobby restroom when the lady and the little girl came in. Apparently the co-worker was in a stall and overheard the lady talking to the little girl. The lady was scolding the little girl for not crying enough today.

Sick fuckers.

Big and ugly? You look just like santa claus. :slight_smile: