#MarchWritingChallenge – Day 13 – How do you engage with panhandlers on the street?

the homeless


This March Writing Challenge of thirty-one questions is hosted by Marquessa, with questions from Alexandra Franzen‘s100 questions to spark conversation and connect.

All are welcome to join in and a list of the questions can be found here.


It really depends on the situation, but I do try to help.

I rarely give cash but have no problem buying a meal for someone.

However, sometimes it’s not about cash or food.

Years ago, I was out for dinner and a movie with my late husband and his brother. An old guy was sitting on the ground, leaning back against a storefront. He said something as we passed that I couldn’t hear and Den and Larry ignored. They kept walking but I turned around.

It was a cold night, but except for a dirty trench coat, all he was wearing was a beat up pair of house slippers and pajama pants that were too short for his lanky, thin frame.

Den tried to pull me away, but I wouldn’t budge. Then he and Larry got on either side of me and tried to pull me away together, and I began the Mother of all Meltdowns!

Did I mention I was seven months pregnant with our first child?

Yeah. Every emotion went on full blast as I bawled and wailed about how he could be someone’s father and grandfather and shouldn’t be sitting on the cold ground on a dark San Bernardino side street.

They knew they wouldn’t win this one and just as they began forming a plan… a cop drove through the intersection. Den flagged him over. He questioned the guy and found out he was a veteran who was SUPPOSED to have been moved from the local hospital to the VA, but instead some guy he didn’t know put him in a van and dropped him off downtown.

I was furious! No way some random guy took him from the hospital without them arranging it… but that’s a rant for another day.

The officer called someone who was also a vet, and he came and picked the guy up—found out his name was Glen—and said he’d give him dinner and a warm bed for the night and promised to get him to the VA in the morning.

I was satisfied. Den and Larry kept apologizing for being shallow and flippant, but I wasn’t upset with them. Panhandlers and street people are invisible to society for a variety of reasons. People will go out of their way to not engage with them.

While it may be rare, sometimes they’re not looking for a handout or even a meal, but for a few minutes of your time.


Image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay