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!