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  • City Living

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on August 25th, 2013 (All posts by )

    For those of you reading this post from the suburbs or rural America you won’t know why this photo of the River North Walgreens drug store is so unique, but city dwellers might if they ponder for a bit… The answer is –

    Because there are no bums out front

    For people who live in the city, especially women, the presence or absence of bums or aggressive panhandlers in fact is a serious criteria for selecting where you live, shop and eat.  This Walgreens in River North usually has a crew of bums accosting everyone going in and out of the turnstiles, like clockwork.

    After a while you subconsciously avoid those places and favor other places.  Another common bum congregation zone are churches.  I usually walk on the other side of the street whenever churches are in my path, except for the brief times when the churches are fully of happy people all dressed up which would be a wedding.

    Someday I will walk through the loop and count how many times a day I am asked for money or asked to buy something of no value (i.e. the magazine “Streetwise”).  It has to be in the dozens of times.  Another common topic of interaction – “can I ask you a question?” is that they have lost their bus pass / CTA pass / need some money for the train back home.  This “line of inquiry” is consistently heard anywhere near the commuter rail stations.

    Businesses would be wise to hire security of some sort or use their own managers to figure out how to minimize the presence of bums and panhandlers and aggressive street people on their premises.  I’m sure many of the smarter businesses have already done this.  Women in particular will likely shy away from your establishment if they have to run a gauntlet in order to patronize it.

    I feel sorry for the tourists that actually interact with these bums and panhandlers.  Their kids are usually surprised and the “smart” bums will try to strike up a conversation with the children that after a brief start of recognition the parents are quick to want to get out of.  This is a good tactic to get a buck, and quite sneaky.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    23 Responses to “City Living”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      In the city of Santa Monica, the bums have every right to be there. In fact, you might be in trouble if you tried to chase them away. The beach is their favorite location; not in the water alas. Without the climate, Santa Monica would be skid row. At least Chicago has winter to freeze a few of them.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Antiloitering laws and cops walking the streets, or riding on horseback, were good things.

    3. John Says:

      I worked in downtown Atlanta fifteen years ago. I was accosted one afternoon by a gentleman carrying a girl of about six. He had brought his daughter to a job interview and had no funds to ride MARTA. I gave him $5.00.

      Next week, afternoon, same gentleman, same girl child, same story. I asked him if the last $5.00 had been helpful. Startled recognition, followed by rapid movement out of the area.

      I hope the girl has found a better life.

    4. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I spend a lot of time in Chicago because my daughter lives there. I also lived in NYC in the late 1070s. Chicago has a long way to go to be equal of NY in that era.

    5. PenGun Says:

      I’s an aspect of your “devil take the hindmost’ approach to society. As your economy worsens you will find more of these poor people in your streets.

      In Canada there are a often buskers at liquor stores etc but you have to go right down town in a big city to find any amount of panhandlers.

    6. Dr. Weevil Says:

      Perhaps Walgreens has come up with the same solution a 7-11 in Catonsville, Maryland started using a few years ago. Their problem was loitering teens rather than actual panhandlers, but they found that playing opera over the loudspeakers drove away all the loiterers without losing any actual customers. No, this is not an urban legend: two of my nephews worked there. I think the music was only played outside the door, to avoid annoying the employees.

    7. DouginChicago Says:

      I’ve also encountered panhandlers in the Chicago suburbs. Generally better dressed than their urban counterparts, and occasionally having a more imaginative pitch (“Mister, my boyfriend and I got into an argument, and he kicked me out of the car, and now I’m stranded with no money”).

    8. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “I’s an aspect of your “devil take the hindmost’ approach to society. As your economy worsens you will find more of these poor people in your streets.””

      PenGun, you have the advantage of subzero winters to thin the herd.

    9. VXXC Says:

      Crime goes down here when it’s cold.

      Crime goes up when it’s hot.

      Actually here it’s Devils take the Middle Class, from both sides.

    10. Whitehall Says:

      In San Francisco, we have sit-down comics doing the panhandling.

      They’ll make themselves comfortable at a strategic location, and offer up humorous banter with passersby. It can be sorta worth it.

      Down in the South Bay, there was a bearded, shirtless guy lounging on the lawn in front of my suburban bank Friday. Worst, there was a kid who could have been his buddy loitering in the ATM lobby who left when he say me coming. I informed one of the banker guys.

      It was a bit odd to see two dark-suited burly bankers out talking to the bum on the lawn as I left.

      BTW, saw “Elysium” last night.

    11. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      “As your economy worsens…”

      And we can thank the Leftists and their economics of destruction for that. And now that they’ve destroyed the economy, they’re back to destroying our society.

    12. TM Lutas Says:

      Pengun makes a factual claim that the US has a “devil take the hindmost approach” to society. But is that true? Are we Scrooge asking whether there are prisons and workhouses? Or are we generous with our own money, creating a network of support to take care of the truly unfortunate? The statistics on charitable giving simply do not bear out his claims. He is either ignorant of those statistics or lying. The fact is that the aggressive panhandlers are surprisingly often scam artists than actually poor.

      Offer food, drink, or a job if you need some work done. It’s less likely to be misspent and the scammers will refuse all of the above.

    13. Will Says:

      I lived in NYC for two periods, the mid seventies, and again in the mid-nineties to 2005. The street scene in the seventies was awful, I could write paragraphs about the insane stuff I saw. The second time around, much less so, although always visible. Those “hiding behind statistics” know the reason for that. What I found most difficult about public space, be it the sidewalk, bus, subway etc. were not the mad and destitute, but the kids. High school, junior high and even elementary aged were intensely hostile and confrontational. Recent events covered by courageous media, illuminate this rotten culture.

    14. Jason in LA Says:

      Just yesterday, on the east side of the San Fernando Valley, while waiting in the drive thru of a fast food joint with my window rolled down, some able bodied 35+ year old Caucasian guy about 40 feet away said “Sir, can I ask you a question?” Without missing a beat, I immediately retorted, “I don’t have any money Ace”. That’s all it takes. He started to turn around between the words “any” and “money”.

      I do not know what his question was, but I am certain it eventually would end with him wanting me to give him some of our nation’s fine fiat currency. I hear in San Francisco the panhandlers can be far more confrontational.

    15. PenGun Says:

      “The statistics on charitable giving simply do not bear out his claims. He is either ignorant of those statistics or lying. The fact is that the aggressive panhandlers are surprisingly often scam artists than actually poor.”

      There is no other first world country that leaves it’s poor to their own devices like the USA. The, oh look at our charities schtick, is very misleading. You have just taken an axe to your food stamp program and you hold more people in jail per capita than any other country. A large amount of that is crimes of poverty.

    16. Gringo Says:

      PenGun, you thank your lucky stars that you are not a citizen of the Evil Empire, and we who are citizens of the Evil Empire similarly thank our lucky stars that you are not a citizen of the Evil Empire.

    17. Gringo Says:

      PenGun
      you hold more people in jail per capita than any other country.

      A possible solution would be to give prisoners in US jails one-way tickets to Candada, with no right of return to the US. Give me your tired, your poor, right?

    18. PenGun Says:

      “PenGun, you thank your lucky stars that you are not a citizen of the Evil Empire, and we who are citizens of the Evil Empire similarly thank our lucky stars that you are not a citizen of the Evil Empire.”

      Oh on two counts that’s true. I am very pleased to not be an American and if I was I would have to make changes, as opposed to just watching you fail. Much more fun.

    19. model_1066 Says:

      Dr. Weevil Says:
      August 25th, 2013 at 2:58 pm
      Perhaps Walgreens has come up with the same solution a 7-11 in Catonsville, Maryland started using a few years ago. Their problem was loitering teens rather than actual panhandlers, but they found that playing opera over the loudspeakers drove away all the loiterers without losing any actual customers. No, this is not an urban legend: two of my nephews worked there. I think the music was only played outside the door, to avoid annoying the employees.

      I call it scumbag repellent.

    20. Dan from Madison Says:

      I always enjoy how PudGun talks about the downfall of the USA as if Canada exists in some sort of trade vacuum.

    21. VXXC Says:

      Pennywise let’s swap Aborginals.

      Then Canada can show us how it’s done.

    22. TJ Says:

      One of the benefits of being a beat cop in an urban area is that you get to interact with these folks from a position of relative safety (mostly). I found that there were 4 types.

      Free spirits who simply don’t like rules or routine. They would panhandle some but not with any dedication. Consume some free stuff and usually move on after a few weeks. They were pretty fun to talk to.

      Temporary Bind/Crisis. Just got out of jail, stranded, binge loss of funds. These guys were homeless temporarily as it usually took about 2 weeks to hook up with some free stuff and get a place to perch.

      Scammers. These guys actually make their living pretending to be destitute/injured/insane/Veterans. 3 hots and a bed and healthcare are available absolutely free to anyone but most people don’t know that and they capitalized on it. Most of the older ones were robbers once but cant ply that trade anymore. Disgusting group. I stayed on them all day everyday. One guy had crutches as a prop for 3 years till someone stole them.

      Permanent drunks. Nine out of ten guys you see sleeping at night cannot get into the shelters because they can’t bring in alcohol. They eat free food only when hunger drives them to forego vodka or Listerine for an hour or two. These comprise almost all of the “mentally ill” homeless because the stats started including clinical depression in the early 90’s. Since clinical depression follows drinking all day like puddles follow rain, almost all of them are clinically depressed. They are amazingly law abiding when they are coherent because they fear jail like poets fear the gulag; Because you cannot drink in jail. One of our regulars had been arrested over 400 times and regularly drank Listerine to the point of incontinence. His father was a famous painter who has works permanently displayed in the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum.

      One of the most interesting guys was about 6’3″ and looked just like the guy with the dreads in Pirates of the Caribbean. Scary looking but very well read and a joy to talk to, very polite. He never begged for money but worked at all kinds of odd jobs and collected cans like a maniac. He led a very disciplined life in the shelter. One day they took him in the office and said he couldn’t stay anymore because his caseworker said he had 37 thousand dollars in the bank and the shelter is just not for people with that kind of cash. What happened after that was pretty weird but the story is kind of long.

    23. Gringo Says:

      TJ

      What happened after that was pretty weird but the story is kind of long.

      Could you condense it to two paragraphs? Sounds like an interesting tale.

      I got into a conversation once with a homeless person who when not on the streets of downtown, slept in the woods at the edge of town. He was industrious enough to peddle a newspaper for the homeless. I asked him why he and other homeless people didn’t pool their money and rent a two BR apt in the “diverse” section of town, which at the time [2000] could be had for $400/month. He replied that he didn’t want to live in the “diverse” section of town. [I had lived for 3 years in the “diverse” part of town,and it wasn’t that bad. For one, I didn’t fear walking in my neighborhood in the night.But there was a reason why the windows were barred.]