Wednesday, October 20, 2004

To beg or not to beg, that's the question

If you have been riding the Subway in New York City long enough, you should have witnessed or encountered some quite amusing, or even sometimes bizarre and disgusting, things on the train. Beggars, a profession that probably is as old as our ancient Great Wall, are definitely something you see quite often. Quite frankly, I have long past the initial sympathy stage and in general I don’t believe in solicitation. I honesly think that in a city like New York, you really don’t have to beg to make a living unless you are absolutely lazy. However, I still like them. One aspect about them never fails to entertain me: the reasons or excuses they insist for their mishaps.

I have heard all kinds of reasons. Some are dull, some are creative, and some are even fantastic. Below are the ones that I can remember:
(1) My house was on fire. I lost everything.
(2) My house was on fire right after my property insurance expired for just two days. I lost everything. (I personally like this one a lot. The extra detail really helps.)
(3) I am a drug addict and I lost my job. I am going through rehabilitation right now and I am hungry. (I always want to ask him/her “If you are in rehab, how can you get out begging then?”)
(4) I got AIDS. All my money is spent on treatment.
(5) I got fired. I need to feed four kids at home.
(6) I lost my arm in an accident and lost my ability to work. (For the ones that are disabled, I am more than willing to show my sympathy by offering them a buck or two.)
(7) I am a veteran and the government denied my pension.
(8) I lost my job four months ago. Then I started begging to make a living. Thank you for your support that I survived these four months and finally got a new job in a super market. But the new job doesn’t pay well and I still have to beg to pay my rent. (This one is truly original and I almost laughed out loud in the train when I heard it for the first time.)
(9) I am trying to raise enough money to go to a school. Please help me.
(10) You guys may have seen me a lot of times. Maybe sicken tired of my voice and my face. OK, I won’t tell you my side of the story and please just spare me some change if you can. (I guess the best excuse is no excuse.)

The last one is what I heard yesterday. I was impressed by his creativity.
(11) Due to the poor weather condition, my flight is delayed. I have no extra money to buy anything to eat and please help me. (Great, we got a rich-enough-to-travel-but-too-poor-to-afford-a-meal tourist in town.)

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