The Boy Who Cried Wolf

No matter how cynical you are, it’s never enough to keep up.

I learned about scams at a very young age.  My Mother obtained two successive jobs in Detroit during the Dirty Thirties, in the middle of ‘The Great Depression’.  She worked at Burroughs Adding Machine as an assembler, and later moved to a better-paying position in the kitchens of Detroit General Hospital.

Pencils could be bought in a store for 1 cent each.  On the sidewalks of the commercial district where she worked, could be seen a little Jewish man, with a mug half-full of pencils, and a sign, 2 cents each – 100% markup.  Mom said that one time she gave him two pennies, and took a pencil, as many others did.  Some dropped in the two cents, but declined to take one.  Some dropped in the occasional nickel, or even the rare dime.

She shared a tiny apartment in a huge building, amongst several more, with few trees, little green space, and no parks.  Sometimes on Sundays, to get away from the industrial blandness, she and her room-mate would take a bus to a more upscale residential neighborhood.  There they would tour the area, enjoying the shade, the grass, the flowers, and the birds and squirrels, staring longingly at the magnificent homes.

One Sunday, they passed a large red-brick manor home on an acre lot of manicured lawn and gorgeous gardens, behind a six-foot wrought-iron fence.  When they reached the driveway, there was the little Jewish man, washing his Cadillac.  😳

On my Flash Fiction about seeing a roadside beggar, a commenter from England said that a panhandler in his city has been spotted ending his day by climbing into a nice car.  Toronto had a similar scam artist.  The Shaky Lady was regularly seen in the banking district.  She had muscle tremors, a distorted face, and difficulty speaking…. until quitting time, when a Toronto Sun reporter noticed her striding up a side street, and driving away in this year’s Audi.

I’m not saying that begging as a means of support is easy, especially the roadside panhandling.  You have to stand on pavement for hours, exposed to wind, rain, heat, cold, snow, and exhaust fumes.  You can’t eat or drink on the job, or it destroys the image.  You generally can’t take a break, and washrooms are not available – unless there’s a nearby clump of bushes.

One of my biggest objections to individuals supporting themselves in this manner, is that these people are like leeches on society, adding nothing – no goods or services – to the economy and the general welfare.  My other main objection is that most, or all, of the money received is unreported, and no tax is paid on it.  This means that I (and you) have to pay more taxes for infrastructure and social services, like supporting the unfortunates who really need it. Get some ethics!  Get some self-respect! Get a job!

9 thoughts on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf

  1. Rivergirl says:

    We’ve started having trouble with panhandlers as well. Turf wars have broken out for the best busy street corners. The Portland newspaper interviewed a few of them and they all said they made more money per hour than they could at Wal Mart or McDonalds… tax free. Hard to argue with that.


    • Archon's Den says:

      What is good for them, is not good for society. Perhaps if a few of them get into big enough arguments, some of them will get three hots and a cot for six months for assault, and not have to stand outside in the weather, bothering actual working people. I wonder what COVID has done to the begging industry. 😕 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jim- says:

    Tax free income, add nothing to society, drive a nicer car (or jet) make a living pretending—all sounds very familiar.


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    Common problem, no good solution. I have it on good authority that money panhandled largely goes to drug habits.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I can believe that of the scruffy panhandlers downtown. These ones out in suburbia look too well dressed and fed to be doing much more than some dope and/or mushrooms. 🙂


  4. Sadly, in America, a lot of our homeless are our neglected military veterans who need counseling services.


    • Archon's Den says:

      We have homeless, some of whom are ex-military, most of whom need counselling. Most of the ones that I describe are just con-artists who want to live outside the system. A male often stands on the corner on the opposite side of the Expressway from the female in my FF. He lives in the same building as a co-worker of my son. The guy says that he always pays his rent, has beer and cigarettes, owns a $3500 carbon-fiber bicycle, and puts in fewer hours than the factory worker. 😳

      Liked by 1 person

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