"Pan handlers" on the Train

How do you feel about giving money to people on the subway?

I do once in a while but for the most part I don't. Sometimes I feel bad about it and sometimes I don't. But it's always interesting to see who people give money to the most. You have your crackheads, your drummers, aspiring artists, people who lost everything in a fire, people who just aren't mentally all there, injured people, blind ppl, poets, dancers, ppl doing flips and shit (the last 2 sometimes accompanied by a cute little kid) etc. Twice in one month I saw this one dude who claimed he recently got out of prison, was living in a hotel and just needed money to get back on his feet. He walked up and down the train car flashing his prison ID.

People tend to give money to those who are either giving them good entertainment, have a good believable story, and don't seem completely "hopeless." I'm sure much of it falls in line with the idea that "nothing in life is free." However, when it comes down to it, we just never know. What is a scam, what isn't. Who needs it most and who doesn't. Is it wrong to give a crackhead a dollar just so that he can feel better tonight? He's not going to be kicking that habit on his own anyway. Is it okay to give a dollar to some adult making their cute little son dance on the train when his facial expression shows he's just not into it? I really don't know. We're all just trying to survive. And society is failing a lot of us. So do we pay for it, do we look the other way, do we blame these people for not "making it" when the world is working against them?

I remember this strange gentleman that would ask for money around 180th and 181st and St. Nick many years back. One day he had crutches, the next day his ass was walking with a broken arm. There were rumors that he was really wealthy in DR...I wonder...


I am the other way, I rather give it to someone who I feel will need it. The people who want to perform on the trains and stuff seem perfectly capable of working. I will not give to someone who looks as if they use drugs either. One day on my way to Yankee Stadium I saw a guy with a "Why lie I need a beer" sign so I gave him one. The sign was honest because I can tell by his expression he was happy.

Anyone asking for money with a child usually passes in my book. Call me a sucker if you want but I just dont want to assume not knowing if the money will really go towards feeding their child.

About the guy on 181st street, I have heard those rumors. Some people do take advantage but we really don't know who's telling the truth or not so I suggest go with your instinct.

January 28, 2008 at 3:59 PM  

I never, ever, ever give money to people on the train. Soliciting on the train is illegal, and it pisses me off that people feel like it's ok to trap me in a space the size of a single-wide trailer and demand money from me. I care about the poor, but I don't appreciate being cornered. End of story.

January 28, 2008 at 4:55 PM  

This is a topic that I'm usually torn about but my last few experiences on the train have made me not give out anymore of my hard earned money.

The first time, this guy came on the train saying his daughter died in a fire and he needed money for the arrangements so i gave him a dollar and the minute he walked off, people on the train said they've seen him going around for about 6 years now.

The second time, some guy with one leg came on and this lady snapped and yelled at him saying she was disabled and they get checks, plus government aid for getting homes, food, etc. Plus she pointed out his gold chain and said he should go pawn all his jewelry instead of making people give him money.

Now the drummers, I love those guys. If I get entertained, it's def better than paying 11.50 for an overpriced boring movie at loews. If they cheer me up to the point where i even lower the volume on my ipod, they def deserve a buck or two! :-)

January 30, 2008 at 12:56 AM  

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