Panhandling: the unfortunate truth

Panhandling: the unfortunate truth

Eli Klopp, Editor

Walking down the street to the 7-Eleven near my house, I approach the door to get my routine two packs of sunflower seeds and a soda. As I walk to the front door a man is standing outside. He asks me if I have any money and I say no. Obviously this is a lie and he knows it’s a lie, but I only have three dollars to use for my snacks!

People asking for spare change outside of stores regardless of if it is for food, money, drugs, or any other reason are taking advantage of people by putting them in unavoidable situations.

I’m not saying this to put people down but panhandling, or asking for money in the streets, is unsafe to many people in the surrounding area as well as to the person asking for money. Panhandlers outside of a restaurant, store, or any other business, know that the people walking in have money, and are hoping that they use the situation to their advantage.

Driving into school one day I saw a man asking people for money in the middle of East-West Highway. While cars would pass at 30 miles per hour or more on either side of him, he waited on the median, which is about a foot wide. He would walk back and forth along the median casually until the light turned red, at which point he proceeded to ask people for money window to window.

In the best case scenario he remained there for another thirty minutes or so, making people feel uncomfortable or making five dollars in those thirty minutes, but there are far worse things that could have happened. Walking up and down that median with traffic coming in either direction is very high risk for everyone around.

If the man happened to lose his footing and fall to either side, a car may be able to avoid him at best, but most likely the car would have to swerve into the other lane to avoid hitting him, causing an accident with two or more cars. At worst a car would have no time to avoid him at all and he would get hit.

There are some effects of panhandling that are inevitable, and do not require the speculation of the unlikely event of someone falling into traffic. There is an obvious reason why many businesses have instituted a no loitering policy. When panhandlers stand outside of stores and start asking for money, people become uncomfortable.

Perhaps this won’t have an immediate effect on a business, but if the same person or others begin to ask for money more and more times a day right outside, people who would normally be regular customers start to second guess going in. These customers may even decide to find another place to spend their money if they are giving a dollar or being asked for one every time they walk in the store.

Of course, there is a need for these people to make money somehow, but it is not fair to business owners or workers that they are losing potential customers due to panhandling. These businesses are employing people, and the owners are making a living while trying to help communities function properly.

This is an unfortunate conclusion, but people begging for money in dangerous locations such as the middle of a major intersection, or outside of store fronts need to be stopped. I am not against people asking for money, but there are plenty of places these people can go to panhandle that will not have negative effects on businesses or put other people in danger.