Brother can you spare a dime? Not anymore.

I would like to thank that lady in the walker on the corner of Broadway and commercial for bringing me to my senses to not give money to people asking for change on the street ever again.

The incident? This lady in a walker came up to me and asked me for change. I normally do give something when I can. But this time, I didn’t have any change on me whatsoever. When I didn’t give anything to her, she walked away in a gruff. I felt bad, went to the Coffee Shop behind the 99 b-line stop and bought a muffin for her and myself with my debit card. I said, “I didn’t have any change, but I have some food for you.”

She looked at me in disgust and said, “Why the hell would I want that?” And walked away in a crabby mood as ever.

I was livid. I realized that this person probably only wanted the money for her drug fix. If she truly was poor, then she would have been grateful for the food, or would have at least kept it for later when she was hungry.

I used to give give every last cent I had in my pockets to these addicts. Not anymore. So now, miss walker lady, yet another person will be refusing everyone who comes up to him asking for extra change, whether they truly need it or not.

Call me ultra conservative. Call me heartless. But I’m tired of people using me like this. Starting today, Instead of feeding the drug pushers, I will be making a regular donation to a registered charity, where I know the money is being put to a worthy cause, not for the drug fix of an addict.

12 Comments so far

  1. J (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 6:57 am

    I had a similar experience happen to me in both Paris and Vancouver.
    1. Paris. A friend and I were eating lunch near the eiffel tower, on the grass. A woman approached us for $, we sincerely did not have any, so we offered her some lunch…she threw it back at us!! It was bread with meat. What the hell….
    2. Vancouver. I’m not sure what the “acceptable” amount of change is given to homeless persons, but I gave a guy on Main St. $2 and he scoffed at me and give me a really pissy look (of course he took it)> I never gave him change again.

    it really does make you wonder what they need the $ for…

  2. yep (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 7:08 am

    Back when I freely gave out my change (and often, bills) to homeless and those begging on the streets, I was often sworn or yelled at for not giving enough. Several times I was sworn at for offering food instead of money.

    I now donate to animal charities.

  3. Chris (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 9:15 am

    I don’t give money to beggars either, but I often give food. A lady at Broadway and Commercial asked me for money once, and I gave her an apple. But I had the exact opposite reaction as you, she seemed truly grateful.

  4. dom (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 11:12 am

    This is a basic humanitarian problem. The people living on our streets are not treated like people. These are desperate people and whether it is because they are starving or they are addicted, there is still the same essential problem. These people cannot act with dignity because their dignity has been taken away.

    What hurts more then being insulted by some bum or junkie is to see this big, beautiful and rich city abandon these people. So far as I can tell, there are tens of thousands of people living within our city suffering from hunger or addiction.

    That being said, those bums that scoffed saying a handful of change or a bit of food isn’t enough are right. They need shelter, they need clothing, they need treatment, and they need a lot of things that meagre handouts just don’t provide.

    So good for you Herb for deciding to donate to charities. There are a lot of good ones in our city and they all need help. AIDS Vancouver ( and WISH Women’s Shelter ( are both good examples. They can provide a lot more then a handful of dimes to our city’s needy.

  5. Joey Profit (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

    The reality is that some people are dicks. Some people are not. Some are addicted and just looking to get high some are not. In order to avoid second guessing yourself you should just give out food.

    You will find people that are really grateful and others full of venom. Kind of like the people they might ask for change, some will be generous like some of you, some will do everything but spit on someone who asks them for change. One asshole or bitch panhandler should not discourage you from caring. In my opinion anyway.

  6. Andy Neumann (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

    I have offered food in the past and been sworn at. I have also watched the person throw the food in the closest garbage can/or on the ground moments after I continued waking.

    The Surrey Food Bank now gets my donations.


  7. Matt (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

    Like the rest of the general population, every homeless person is different.

    Living downtown, you begin to get to know the people in the neighbourhood and can tell the junkies from the runaways and simply down-on-luck people.

    A guy who frequented my block for years often wound up with my dinner leftovers, and there was never a time when he seemed the least bit ungrateful. It’s not really fair to punish a guy like that just because you got outsmarted by a junkie.

  8. yong_sa (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

    This wasn’t just a one off deal. One time, I saw this person couldn’t be more than 21, lying on the pavement barefoot with ratty shoes and feet full of sores. She had a cup with some money, I gave her something and went to do some shopping.

    When I went out from the store, I saw the same person, open up her pack, don a nice leather jacket, brush off the makeup from her feet, put on a pair of $200 nike shoes and walk to the nearest sushi place.

    These fakes are not nice people. They’re cons. They’re thieves. And it’s unfortunate that they are ruining it for the legitimate homeless and legitimate poor.

    Offering food to panhandlers and giving your money to only Registered charities are one of the best ways to weed out the junkies and cons from the truly needy.

    I agree that it’s not fair to punish those who are truly needy. But is it fair to reward the cons, thieves and junkies (and their pushers that take their money)?

    There are more appropriate and more effective opportunities to give.

  9. Carla (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

    what happened to beggars can’t be choosers?

  10. Jonathon Narvey (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

    True Story: My sister-in-law walks out of a restaurant in Edmonton, sees a man crouched on the sidewalk. She and her friend are carrying containers of their mostly-unfinished lunch. He asks if he can have it. She gives it to him and he opens it. “Fish, eh? Don’t like that much.” His face screws up.
    He motions to her friend. “What have you got?”

  11. cflores (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 9:58 am

    Gastown, cold, wet…
    Homeless Woman (HW): Spare change?
    Me: No, sorry… I’ve got a sandwich? Here you go… (she looked very cold and hungry)
    HW: Ewww! Roast beef! Gross. I don’t want it.
    Me: (confused as hell)

    Apparently beggars CAN be choosers.

  12. dirk (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

    Giving to a Charity is in most cases less affective than giving direct
    charity is an indignation nobody should have to suffer
    the fact that a country as rich as Canada has poverty is a crime in it’s self
    in regards to panhandlers,there are many reasons why people “beg”,but poverty is still the main reason.
    generalizing,or presuming that a panhandler is an addict is just self rightous bullshit.
    But addiction is one of the ways many cope with poverty.once one reach’s the stage where one is addicted,one has little choice in the matter.The urge and fear of being sick can be quite a powerful motivator which can over rides any other need(s),including ones own reluctance’s to beg.
    It’s not like addicts have many if any resources that they can exploit should they want to kick or detox
    When one has to resort to panhandling(for what ever reason) I would imagine ones mood can be quite negative at times,this would be understandable.
    what begging does to ones self image I can only guess,though I can surmise once one is that desperate,one is not thinking so much about other peoples perceptions or what they think about people who panhandle
    that said I am sure there are a few people who panhandle for other reasons than just out of sheer desperation,though I can not imagine that there are many
    In most cases begging is not a choice,living in poverty does not give one many choices of how to get money,food,drugs rent,or whatever

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