Sometimes a place will imprint in your memory, branding that location by the incidents that occur.
I have no photos of these incidents but I do have the memory, distorted as they may be by time. Taking notes on people I observe is sometimes easier than invading their privacy by taking a picture, and risking offending them.
|Eiffel Tower, Paris, by DG Hudson
The homeless men in Paris, who appeared pleasant after spending a night above a heating grate, sitting and chatting perhaps about how they would go about gaining a bit of food that day or even where to panhandle. Some of the homeless beggars under the crowded rue de Rivoli arcades (on the way to the Louvre) used dramatic methods intended to wring compassion from the passing tourists. One heavy woman of an advanced 'certain age' with her hand out, hunched inside her robes and clutched what appeared to be an infant to her bosom. She was not of childbearing age. She grunted only as if the hand said it all. Perhaps her man or her family had sent her there to earn her keep. It made me wary.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA, USA
|Key West Florida, Old Town, by DG Hudson
In Key West two homeless men in their forties got upset when we ran past them and their sauntering gait, to meet our boat for an adventure cruise. They yelled at us, irritated at our impatience, but we kept on walking at a fast clip and didn't look back. We were hurrying to meet a tour, and the homeless men appeared to have just woken up after a hard night's sleep. We made it, but the catamaran wouldn't have waited if we were late. The tour was an all-day trip to the Dry Tortugas, an old pirate stopover. I still cannot understand why our 'passing' those homeless guys on Duval Street triggered such a response. Another incident that made me wary.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA, USA
Across from Disneyland, the home of fantasy, a man in good clothes told hubs a tale of having spent all his money and needing some to call home. . .but what was the real reason, when he didn't look shabby or homeless? A true bad incident? Or an experienced street beggar who pinpointed tourists? He did get a fiver from hubs, before I came back to see what the delay was.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA in the 'burbs
|Cityscape view from Stanley Park, by DG Hudson
Nearer to home, in a hospital parking lot, an elderly lady in her seventies dressed as you would expect in suitable clothes claimed to be at the end of her rope, and asked me if I could give her some money. I had just bought a parking lot ticket with my credit card. I don't carry cash, so couldn't help but my instinct was on high alert. Something just didn't ring true. She told me she and her hubs were from out of town and had been mugged. He was in the hospital being cared for, but she had no money to call relatives.
It happened again on another afternoon, when another elderly lady in a grocery parking lot approached me asking for handouts. There are also many who walk the medians in traffic with cardboard signs asking for assistance in the way of money. All these incidents make me wonder what we are doing to our society.
Neil Gaiman used an elderly homeless lady in his Neverwhere story, but the frequency and variety of these occurrences which I have encountered make me wonder, is this a burgeoning trend of our time period?
What do you think of the flourishing and growing trend of panhandling or begging? Is it prevalent in your city or town? Is society failing its citizens? Does it bother you? This seems to become more visible in the better weather in our area when our homeless population grows.
Please leave a comment if you can to let me know you were here, and I'll get around to your blog soon as I can. Sorry for the slow blogging schedule, but life intervenes. If you avoid commenting on social problems, I understand. I just observe and wonder, and use it for my writing. I always like to know what others think about these issues.