Ronald Davis
April 24, 2013 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Well done video by a student film maker. Not having a telephone can play a large role in getting a job or possibly not. Panhandlers, some do it for a living, and others just do it for their next meal or for a warm place to sleep for a can you tell the difference?
posted by AllChildrenMatter at 2:29 PM on April 24, 2013

What is the difference?
posted by telstar at 2:32 PM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

In pittsburgh, there was a non-profit service where people could get a voicemail box for free. All they had to do was get access to a phone (pay phone or wherever) and they could dial their voicemail number and check their voicemail. every week, they would receive job notifications in their voice mailbox. the idea was that people had a hard time finding jobs without a phone number to list, especially because they did not even have a mailing address. i do not know if this non-profit is still in operation or not, as i cannot remember the name. i think it's often hard for us to conceptualize how difficult it may be to get a job without those resources. i cannot imagine showing up to a job interview without showering, wearing proper attire, etc.
posted by kbennett289 at 2:37 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

kbennett289, anyone can do that nowadays with Google Voice.
posted by desjardins at 3:32 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

This student film maker knows a lot more about film making than many professionals. Sometimes all you need to do is point the camera and shut up.

With all the endless talk and speechifying about poverty and homelessness and social problems, it's so rare to see people being allowed to speak for themselves.

Bravo to this.
posted by crazylegs at 3:56 PM on April 24, 2013 [9 favorites]

How many more like him in the city? and then in the rest of the nation? the numbers keep growing.
posted by Postroad at 4:07 PM on April 24, 2013

Thanks for reminding me how good I have it. I want to punch the wall but instead, donation sent.
posted by superelastic at 6:08 PM on April 24, 2013

Jesus. That guy. I wish there were some way to give directly to that guy.

What is the difference?

The difference ACM was getting at, I think, was that some people ask for money on the street because they really are bums who just want to scam you out of your money, whereas others, like this man, have no choice and just need help until they can--hopefully--get back on their feet. The professional bums not only take hard-earned money from people by false pretenses, but, in effect, take money from people like the man in the video. I and many others would give very freely to people on the street if I knew they really needed it. A friend of mine who frequently worked at the soup kitchen, however, used to urge me not to give to folks on the street. According to him, most of that money is going to booze and drugs, and just making things worse.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:29 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Getting off the street once you're on it is pure hell today. If you have any kind of record you cannot even get a job in a brake shop, or as a laborer -- no kidding, you have to give them a resume to work in a brake shop, or anywhere, possible employers stick their nose up your very asshole, and can get away with it. And: If you've spent any time at all on the streets, in trouble, hey, you've got a record. A guy just cannot get back on his feet. The cards are completely stacked against him.

If he's been to more than just jail for bullshit street charges IE if he's been to prison, he's totally screwed. People who I have seen and known in recent years, the only way out for them is to be a self-employed carpenter or roles similar to that, and even they have a rough time finding their first break, the first few people who will give them work. And that's presuming that they've got the skills and at least the barest minimum of tools and social skills. Getting all of that together, if you're just out of prison -- wow.

Yet so many really do try, it's heart-breaking to watch all the doors shut in their faces. Those who do make it off the streets, it's a miracle, really.


Panhandlers, some do it for a living, and others just do it for their next meal or for a warm place to sleep for a can you tell the difference?
posted by AllChildrenMatter at 4:29 PM on April 24

What is the difference?
posted by telstar at 4:32 PM on April 24

There's a huge difference. The panhandlers who do it for a living play on the human heart, our caring for one another, decency. But it's a hustle, pure and simple. Worse, they harden the heart, so that when a person really in trouble asks for help no one believes them.

This guy is in the heart of Chicago. There are hordes of hustlers on the streets there, overwhelming by far the poor bastards who really do need a break, who are there also. If you walk there, it's one person after another, getting right up into your face, all the time you're walking in the city, and if you show the slightest of decency, if you do anything more than look away, or look at them with the cold eyes you get after being in the city for a while, you will immediately get the bums rush.

It's overwhelming, it's frustrating, it's unbelievably rude. It takes the pleasure out of a walk most anywhere in the city. I try to see if someone really needs anything but how can I possibly see past all the possible facade put up by the hustlers? Answer: I cannot.


Not sure if it's still a going concern but there was a newspaper put out by street guys, covering their concerns, and all the money from the paper went to people who really needed help, and it was A Good Thing. And people would absolutely buy that paper -- people absolutely do want to help -- they'd buy that paper, then walk down the street with it in their hand and when they'd get the bums rush they'd hold up a copy of that paper. Like, I gave at the office. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't enough, but it balanced things off somewhat.
on preview: what Fists O' Fury said.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:58 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

for people with computers, sure.
posted by kbennett289 at 7:48 PM on April 24, 2013

There appears to be something in my eye.
posted by cyndigo at 7:49 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

anyone can do that nowadays with Google Voice

Doesn't Google Voice require a computer and internet connection?

Not sure if it's still a going concern but there was a newspaper put out by street guys, covering their concerns, and all the money from the paper went to people who really needed help, and it was A Good Thing.

In San Francisco, it was called Street Sheet and I think the program was national.

I got so fed up with the homeless in San Francisco. So many of them are panhandling for drugs and alcohol and many have no desire for a job. I once lived next to the Tenderloin, one of the City poorest areas, and many homeless slept outside the Bill Graham auditorium. Every single morning I had to walk past human piss and shit and needles and broken bottles and garbage strewn everywhere and I would meet the city workers coming to clean the area. It was such a waste of resources. There was a free bathroom and trash cans located all around but they'd never be used.

I also knew old guys who were holding on by their fingernails, living in SROs on their tiny VA or social security checks. Also, young guys who had no clue how to live normal lives, no viable families to turn to, limited social and job skills, probably criminal records - guys that would require a miracle to get back on their feet. Guys like the one in this video, to get a job he needs a wardrobe, a resume, a phone, a way to get to and from work, a place to sleep and bathe. There are social programs that help with bits and pieces but he needs the whole package. And even then, he's probably destined to be the working poor with one foot on a financial banana peel.

I know how easy it is to fall and not be able to pick yourself up. No car, no phone, no computer, no support network can make getting or keeping a job really hard if you're poor. And this is magnified is you have criminal record. I watched a family member apply for literally a hundred jobs before being hired. He was fortunate to have family support while he searched but it was demoralizing. He had good social and job skills but his sentence didn't end when he left prison.
posted by shoesietart at 7:55 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

What must it do to a man, to have to beg for pennies? And to know that with each passing day that he's out on the street, his chances of turning his life and luck around creep closer to zero. I don't know how a person in circumstances like Ronald Davis's has the strength of spirit to hold onto hope for something better. I honestly don't think I'd have it in me. I'm so fortunate to have my life.
posted by keep it under cover at 10:18 PM on April 24, 2013

"This one homeless guy came up to me the other day, and he was asking me for money. I was about to give it to him, and then I thought, ‘He’s just gonna use it on drugs or alcohol.’ And then I thought, ‘That’s what I’m gonna use it on. Who am I to judge the guy, really?’"

(Greg Giraldo)

posted by greenhornet at 3:34 AM on April 25, 2013

Doesn't Google Voice require a computer and internet connection?

Only for initial setup. You could do it at the library in five minutes, or someone can do it for you. After that, you'd just call in to get your messages just as you would any other voicemail. I have a smartphone and 24 hour internet access and I literally never use the web portion of Google Voice.
posted by desjardins at 9:46 AM on April 25, 2013

This is really beautiful, thanks.

I really don't want to sound harsh because I also get the feeling that a lot of the comments here are more or less sensitive, and I know this things are hard, but... yah... this stuff really strikes a nerve. I find it pretty brutal how judgemental people are about these things.

So what if a lot of these people are spending this money on drugs and alcohol. Lifelong panhandlers are 'scam artists'. I mean what the hell? Would you want to trade lives with these people? Even the 'bad ones'? They're living on the fringes of society, whether or not they're trying to pull themselves together. If I had to sleep outside during a Chicago winter with people treating me like shit all the time I'd probably start drinking a lot too. At some point I might just give up all hope. And this guy is inspiring for not having done that.

What's fucked up the social safety net in the US, and what's making it worse in the rest of the developed world, is the constant fear that some people are having an easy time. It's apparently a hard bargain to take care of all the homeless because some of them are 'taking advantage of the system'. Who the fuck cares? Can't we let them? They are not fortunate, and we are. Is it worth fucking over the 'good ones' because of the 'bad ones'? Does it even matter who's who? Can't we just take care of all of them?

Even with the bad ones! ... I mean seriously. What do people think when they see a 45 year old strung out on the subway asking for money? It shouldn't be disgust. It should be pity. This is someone who has 'decided' that they would rather spend their lives in a haze of drugs rather than build relationships, build a career, build a family, live a life... I don't know. I don't think people decide these things. I think the part of them that wanted all that... that wanted a family in the most general sense... they have to push that as far away from their minds as possible lest it drive them mad. Because they will never have it. They're almost the walking dead, and then we condescend to them about the few pleasures they have.

Corporations and politicians are fleecing the middle class, and we begrudge the poor for panhandling. It's all back fucking asswards, I swear to god.
posted by Alex404 at 11:34 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

« Older "There Are Lots Of Ways To Die in Alaska"   |   Sen. Nesselbush: "Today is so important, I even... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments