Saturday, September 26, 2009

Telling REAL Homeless People From FAKE Ones

My blog buddy, Mark, has me thinkin' about 'homeless people imposters'. You know, the super laziest of all entrepreneurs - the very lowest in the entrepreneurial food chain. They drive their gas guzzlers or take cabs to a point a few blocks from their favorite corners, and then they use the time it takes to walk to those corners to get into character. They'll stand on their corners for 6 or so hours, Monday thru Friday, and guilt the kind and gullible workers of the world into dishing out dough for them. Enough to keep their scallops wrapped in prosciutto and the premium channels on their flat screens. I'm pretty sure most of them have time shares at Hilton Head and Vegas. They probably shampoo with Pureology.

I am bothered by these folks, too. Seriously, WTF? I guess I shouldn't begrudge them that I am paying my share of taxes and contributing to theirs, too. After all, I could get up each morning, not brush my teeth then go to a corner and shake in people's faces a used Starbucks cup I'd dug out of the trash. I could swat at invisible crap all day. No one is stopping me from joining the ranks of the 'pretending to be destitute'. Problem is, I just don't think I'd be all that convincing.

See, my encounters with homeless people have been fairly limited. When I was young and dinosaurs roamed, I was a hotel desk clerk and there was a homeless guy who hung outside our entry. He told passers-by that it was his birthday (every day), and that all he wanted was a watch. Under his long sleeves he had 20 pounds of watches. His thing was jumping up and down and singing "Happy Birthday to Me" and acting not right. He was a local star and even though we locals knew he was a just an energetic con, that didn't matter to tourists. They saw him as an energetic icon, and felt that since he entertained them, he should be paid for his efforts. We had another guy with big hair and a purple coat who went around screaming obscenities and playing a guitar. I would have to cross the street periodically to avoid his verbal assaults and sad strumming, and he was arrested regularly.

And that's all I got with regard to up close and personal with HPs
(not talkin' printers here). So given that my exposure to them has been infrequent, I'll just tell you the three things that I have observed about the real ones AND the fake ones, respectively:
#1: a real homeless person trusts no one. If you walk up to one and offer something that you believe they will be eager to receive - like a scarf, a burrito or a Wet Wipe (as if!) - they won't take it. They may try to take something from you that you are not offering, and they may simply look at you like you are a door knob then stomp off or run away.
#2: they can be very mean. I had a homeless guy cuss me out - creatively using
verses from the bible - for offering him my belt. (Hey! I was subjected to a view of his flaming diaper rash while walking behind him with my Frison Biche and my Wolfbane Puck To Go. Extremely disturbing - not to mention unappetizing.)
#3: they do not like each other. They totally don't have each others' back. Nope, quite the opposite. It is every man for himself out there. They often hiss and spit and slug it out like seagulls fighting over a French fry.

But when it comes to the FAKE homeless guys, though they may not show any signs that they are stunningly mental, they will show signs that say, 'God Bless' or 'will work for food'.
#1: they'll take just about anything you offer - like a belt to cover the brand spankin' new Calvin Klein boxers that are hanging out of their not-really-all-that-disgusting cargo pants - which you know are frauds because they couldn't stand
in a corner on their own.
#2: they are very nice to you, usually telling their buddy, God, to bless you or something.
#3: they have their closest pals out there with them, even though they may be hiding from you behind a bush, a trash can or a real homeless person. They are indeed a band of brothers. Completely unlike our group of genuine non-homies.

Long story short, fake HPs will kiss your ass. Real ones will kick it.

This makes me wonder... could the majority of real HPs simply be just plain effed up beyond repair? I mean who in their right mind would consciously choose to live under the bridge with a bunch of smelly people and the voices in their heads, too? Or in a Maytag box (which you'd no doubt have to drag with you everywhere to keep some really nasty guy from moving in), at the corner of 52nd and Lexington, right? Come on, they'd have to be nuts to stay in New York or Detroit if they were homeless because if they weren't crazy, they'd be kickin' off their two sizes-too small snow boots and walkin' to Miami! In flip flops! There's a thought; perhaps beside every interstate, we should create a Walk to Miami lane. A Miami Walkway or Miami Trail, if you will. That way, these folks could make some real progress toward... something. A brighter future, perhaps. At least a warmer one. We know that they probably log a few dozen miles each day as they shuffle about on their street corners anyway, so why not help them actually get somewhere?

Shoot, if I were homeless, I'd be on my way to Key West. No winter coat stuffed with yesterday's news for me, thank you very much. I'd be hangin' out with Hemingway's cats in Warm and Sunny Shores with a revolving set of cashed up tourists passing daily. I'd convince the local authorities that I was harmless, maybe slip 'em a one every week or so, and rake in the cash. I'd put a sign around my neck, too, which would say, "I accept travelers cheQues.".

OK, so back to the issue of mental illness, alcoholism, etc., surrounding the majority of REAL HPs in any city, you've gotta wonder, "what's the answer?" Well, the good city of Seattle claims to have it. The answer to homelessness. They have a 40 million dollar, Ten Year Plan (Google it) which they believe will get the HPs off the street and back into a more useful place in society. Hmmm.

I dunno. I'm kinda down with the NYC idea of shipping HPs off with a one-way ticket to their destination of choice. Heck, I might even become homeless for that. I've always liked the idea of living in Paris, but who could afford the airfare?

And regarding the dilemma of fake HPs, all I can say is this: you'd have to be crazy to want to be homeless and even crazier to go out and pretend that you are.

As for the REAL homeless folks, the ones who really are incapable of functioning 'normally' in society at the moment, let us remember the words of Bruce Willis... I mean Bruce Hornsby... in his song, "That's Just the Way It Is". Or Everlast's song, "What It's Like". Cause I think I can safely say that thankfully, THAT is not 'just the way it is' for most of us, and that the same group of 'most of us' really doesn't have a clue about 'what it's like'.

Oh, I didn't really offer a Wet Wipe. That was my mom.


Mark Price said...

Cynica, i want to come to Alaska now and take a box of french fries to Seward harbor and watch the seagulls duke it out! $1.50 for like an hours worth of entertainment! Hey, you think we could get Hemmingway's cats to fight over a tuna salad sammich?

Cynica Sarcastamos said...

Hemmingway's cats probably eat only peanuts and pretzels but I imagine they'll fight at the drop of a cat. R R R

Mark Price said...

Another way to tell if a homeless guy is fake is, he is made of plastic.

Cynica Sarcastamos said...

Would that be like Barbie's Dream House-less Malibu Ken?

Cynica Sarcastamos said...

FYI - Seward gulls prefer potato chips but only because there's no McDonald's there yet.

Spot said...

Hey..I saw your comments on mark's blog and dropped by. After reading your blog I've decided to quit blogging and become a fake homeless person, because it sounds like a good gig and I'm really good at acting crazy so I think nobody would guess. I'd lick people if I have too...I'm not proud. I just want to be rich.

Oh and real homeless people smell really really bad. So I might have to gross myself out a little, but it would be worth it to have a flat screen.


Kathryn said...

Okaaaay. But how do you REALLY feel about it?? Yikes! I'll prob never look at a panhandler the same way again! Yeah, ppl in their right minds quickly figure out that it's easy to hold out your hand and get someone to put some green in it. The mentally ill ones probably don't have a clue...and DO want to be left alone. The con artists wouldn't do so well if it wasn't for all those damned tourists...

Cynica Sarcastamos said...

Thanks for commenting, Folks. Lemme make it abundantly clear that I am NOT dissing HPs.
There but for the grace of God... I'm hoping that Seattle solves the puzzle then clues the rest of us in.

Mark Price said...

uhh post something else please

Chrissy said...

If I were homeless (if I WAS homeless?), I would live in San Diego. Certainly not here in Cleveland (too cold) and not in Florida (too hot).

markishmark said...

Good stuff!

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