operation ignore

I’ve talked about panhandling a bit recently over at metblogs, and the topic has come up again here, where the sum of the reaction in the comments amounts to “geez, just ignore them, like we do in NYC, aren’t we cool and hip because we ignore people.”. Anyways, I posted my thoughts there, but it did remind me of a funny story I meant to blog earlier.

Ignoring someone you think is a panhandler or making assumptions about what they want can be dangerous. I once saw a woman walking down 2nd ave. drop a dayplanner or something. This guy behind her, looking pretty rough – probably homeless, but who knows – picked it up and called after her, “hey lady –” and without turning around she just called back “I don’t have anything for you, sorry”. His face wrenched up in a scowl as he muttered “I wasn’t askin for nothin” to himself and tossed her planner in the trash.

So, be careful what you assume. You can be a cool, hip, cynical city-dweller and internalize a crippling fear of the people all around you, or you can, you know, be a human being. It might work out to your benefit, too.