Re: Village Services

1

This doesn't make up for the caterpillar thing, ogged.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:15 PM
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I don't know what to say. Are you familiar with the homeless services and soup kitchens in your area? Are there programs for re-homing people? Some metropolitan areas have programs to provide homeless people with housing. Possibly employment programs. Should you volunteer at the local soup kitchen?

Obviously the man needs to eat. Maybe you should make a thermos of hot soup for him, to bring next time you go to the market.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:27 PM
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Oh god this topic is depressing. The other weekend I passed a very pregnant panhandling homeless woman about three times. I never had a red light in front of her, and was too paralyzed by the size of her problems to stop and actively do something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:34 PM
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they wouldn't even let him shop there. I suppose that's legal, though it seems distinctly dickish

Maybe. He might not be allowed in because he was caught pocketing stuff. It's commonly SOP for stores to ban shoplifters from returning to the premises.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:35 PM
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On a slightly different dimension, there's a wonderful lady who works at a local small grocery I visit who has a tendency to remember the customers. Not long ago I was in line to check out, and heard her discussing the dietary choices of the 70-something man in front of me.

"Oh, these soups are very expensive!" She said. "But you like soup, yes?"

"Oh, I do, I do," he allowed somewhat sheepishly, "But since my wife is gone, you know ...."

The wonderful lady declared that she would make him a big pot of soup, and put it in tupperware containers, and have it for him next time he came in. No charge. And what kind of soup did he like best?

I was amazed. What a wonderful woman. The man had a hard time accepting, but was so grateful. I assume it all worked out well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:35 PM
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neighborhood growshry diagonally kitten from the cater to us

I know kitty-corner, and I know cater-corner, and I know diagonal, but exactly how slantendicular does this place have to be to require that much specification of the angle it's at?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:37 PM
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"Assume" makes an ass of u and me.


Posted by: Opinionated Ghost of old man poisoned with free soup | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:38 PM
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Peh. The wonderful lady is wonderful. She's my friend, also too, because she remembers that I'm a big fan of the two-day-old bread (half price), and she puts some aside for me. So there.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:42 PM
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I'm a big fan of the two-day-old bread

Is this because of the price or a preference, however based, for the older bread?

Fresh bread was shunned in many places, and that was a notion I grew up with. My wife claimed never to have heard of it, but her brother reminded her that their grandfather, a refugee from Germany in the late 30s, had made a killing selling day-old bread, which he picked up cheap from returning delivery trucks, to fellow refugees who preferred it.


Posted by: Idp | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:49 PM
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I'll stick to "boo" if it makes you feel better.


Posted by: Opinionated Ghost of old man poisoned with free soup | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:49 PM
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9: Price. I have a preference for bread that tends to be expensive, but it's pretty expensive, so I'll get it at half price, in quantity if possible, and freeze some of it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 1:54 PM
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None of this is helpful to the man described in the OP, however.

What are the vagrancy laws like in Chicago? I know this is a big issue in ... San Francisco? Someplace California, maybe LA.

Ah. There was an excellent piece in Harper's magazine back in 2011 by William Vollmann on the Homeless in Sacramento. It's paywalled for non-subscribers, so I don't bother to link to it. Among its points is that there's a lot that public action or activism can do in this realm.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:06 PM
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I feel incredibly heartless saying this, but my reaction to the story in the OP is that the guy wasn't particularly hungry -- a polite demurral followed by "vanilla wafers, if they have them," sounds like someone who's not feeling pressured in terms of getting fed.

I'm sure the guy is in rough circumstances generally, but not in a way that makes me confident that the management of the store was behaving badly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:13 PM
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You're just heartless because you live in a city where you see more than one homeless person each day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:16 PM
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Ah. There was an excellent piece in Harper's magazine back in 2011 by William Vollmann on the Homeless in Sacramento.

I'm faintly surprised he wasn't advocate hunting them for sport (or, alternately, the homeless in Sacramento banding together to hunt the petit bourgeoise for sport; I could see him going either way).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:19 PM
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There's always the same guy who sits on the corner by the drug store here. He gets breakfast at McDonald's most days and then goes to his spot where he stays until about noon. He has a pile of blankets and stuff for when it is cold. He only rarely asked for money (by discretely placing a cup out) and won't usually take food or coffee. Apparently, there's a law against eating on the sidewalk.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:20 PM
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I think he manages to take care of himself. I'm certainly not the only one who buys papers from him, and he listed several places that he can spend the night when it's cold. As a solidly built black guy who is probably around 6'4", a lot of the anxiety of shelter living probably isn't an issue for him. Still, I'd be surprised (though I don't really know the man, obviously) if he shoplifted and they decided to let him stay outside, but not come in. More likely, they're worried about reaction from the other customers, but that seems...dickish.

Mostly, these rich/poor juxtapositions just piss me off.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:20 PM
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Would it help if the nearby houses were subdivided into four half-million dollar condos?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:22 PM
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There was an excellent piece in Harper's magazine back in 2011 by William Vollmann on the Homeless in Sacramento.

I will second that it was a great article -- one of the best things I've read in Harper's (which, admittedly, has been going steadily downhill over the last couple of years).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:25 PM
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13: LB, don't be an asshole. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch to understand that a person might not want to actually beg. It certainly shouldn't be the case that actually begging is the required marker for making your need felt.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:25 PM
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Day-old bread is preferred by some recipes, like french toast, but I'd never choose it for a sandwich. Also, I think the phrase "day-old bread" is misleading. I could never tell the difference between a standard loaf of American-style white or wheat bread after just one day. Thank preservatives, I guess. An authentic French baguette, goes stale quickly, true, but making French toast with a baguette is a pain too. Another misleading name. We really need to start a campaign.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:27 PM
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There is an older homeless black man who sits on a ledge that I walk by to work. He is always reading something. Very often he is reading a math textbook. I am always so curious. WHICH MATH? I try to sneak glances, but haven't managed to find out.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:28 PM
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18 -- "let them eat Chipotle."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:30 PM
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21: there already is an alternate name - pain perdu.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:33 PM
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Booooo! I can't read the Homeless in Sacramento article, which is a shame because I see the same people around town a lot and might have learned more about them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:33 PM
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21: Your problem is less the definition of "day-old bread" than it is the definition of "bread".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:38 PM
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Booooo! I can't read the Homeless in Sacramento article

A google search turns up this. I just scanned it, but it looks like the complete article (I should save a copy).

Sorry Halford.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:38 PM
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Type the words of the title and the letters "pdf" into google to find readers who have reposted.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:39 PM
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15: I'm faintly surprised he wasn't advocate hunting them for sport (or, alternately, the homeless in Sacramento banding together to hunt the petit bourgeoise for sport; I could see him going either way).

I don't know much about Vollmann otherwise, but the piece involves his providing space on his property for homeless people to camp, but it developed that he wasn't legally allowed to do this -- they were kicked off and I believe he was fined. Later he stays in and migrates around to a variety of homeless camps himself for quite a while. Don't know what you mean, then.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:39 PM
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22: Are you sure he isn't a math professor? Present company excluded, I'm sure, but you can't always tell by appearance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:39 PM
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two-day-old bread (half price)

You asshole!

Did I do that right?

No, seriously, if you like bread but are price conscious (and have the time) making your own bread gets you better bread for much less money. Baking bread turned out to be about fifteen times easier than I expected, which is weird, because I already knew that M/tch M/lls could do it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:41 PM
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31 gets it right. I made bread for a while but realized that it takes between 1 and 2 weeks to go through a loaf of bread, so making fresh bread was pointless. But buying fresh bread was double pointless because I could make it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:43 PM
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24: Or "pain doré," in French, but neither of them are commonly understood in English, are they?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:43 PM
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Did I do that right?

Huh?

I know, I know I should make my own.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:44 PM
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And the best pain perdu is made by soaking overnight slices of brioche in a beaten egg thinned with cream and then cooking in butter on the stovetop in the morning but slowly slowly serve with the syrup leftover from the jarred Blenheim apricots, sheep milk yogurt and some fruit.

This only works out well from a waistline perspective if you are a teenage boy who grew a cool 7 inches in the last year and you dance a minimum of 10 hours per week.

But it tastes good!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:44 PM
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slowly slowly serve with the syrup leftover . . .

It has to have time to cool while you bring the plate to the table . . .

(That does sound both tasty and rich)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:47 PM
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I'm generalizing from myself, but I think poignant or unexpected interactions that throw homelessness into a different focus are often striking. I've probably said this before, but we drive past a soup kitchen on the way home from school every day and there's always a big line out the door, but I'll never forget the day one of my kids said, "How come you never take us to that restaurant? When I was with [birth relative] we got to eat there all the time, but you NEVER take us to that restaurant!" So now I can't drive past it without thinking of that, though it hasn't changed me at a policy or activism level. And I still don't know the best wording for talking to the kids about their homeless relatives. (Or, hell, the probably almost 10% of their classmates who are homeless, though not the kind that means living on the street. Ugh ugh ugh.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:49 PM
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All the old bread soaked in custard & gridled is lost, not golden, chez nous. I think doré is a Canadian-ism. Live in a wierd bilingual bubble so I am sure you are right all this stale bread lingo opaque.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:51 PM
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Cook it slowly slowly dear nick. You can bring it swiftly to the table so long as nothing flies off the plate.

very tactless to discuss this on this thread will stop now.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:54 PM
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30: He might be, but I see him there regularly enough that I don't know when he'd be meeting his classes.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:55 PM
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Maybe he's emeritus.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:57 PM
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42

Maybe he has tenure.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:57 PM
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43

LB, don't be an asshole. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch to understand that a person might not want to actually beg.

Sure. But once the person is accepting offered help from a stranger, and what comes to mind as what they need is vanilla wafers, I think it's a reasonable deduction that they're not particularly worried about meeting their caloric needs generally.

Still, I'd be surprised (though I don't really know the man, obviously) if he shoplifted and they decided to let him stay outside, but not come in. More likely, they're worried about reaction from the other customers, but that seems...dickish.

Well, as you say, you don't know the guy. You're a big guy yourself, and so probably somewhat less subject to physical intimidation than the median grocery store customer. Worrying about reaction from the other customers doesn't seem all that unreasonable. There should be social services available such that he has a warm place to go that is safe and pleasant enough that sleeping rough doesn't seem like a preferable alternative, but expecting that a grocery store should be that place for someone with the sort of personal difficulties that lead to homelessness seems as if it might be unreasonable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:59 PM
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Stupid pwning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 2:59 PM
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Are you sure he isn't a math professor? Present company excluded, I'm sure, but you can't always tell by appearance.

IIRC, this is a website. "Hobo or Prof?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:02 PM
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43: But once the person is accepting offered help from a stranger, and what comes to mind as what they need is vanilla wafers, I think it's a reasonable deduction that they're not particularly worried about meeting their caloric needs generally.

I think you're being dense here. The man was exercising his pride.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:02 PM
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If you exercise your pride outside of a store, the cops get called right away.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:03 PM
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48

expecting that a grocery store should be that place

I certainly don't expect this, and say as much in the OP. But unless, as gswift says, he's stolen from them, not allowing him to shop there is surely dickish. Otherwise, the argument is something like, "you can see why they wouldn't want a large black man shopping there," which is surely not what you mean.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:05 PM
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I admit that the distinction, pride-wise, between accepting an offer of food by specifying cookies and specifying something more substantial is opaque to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:06 PM
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My wife joked that I should have said, no, I'll only get you something healthy. My mom's reaction was "sugar warms you up." I figured that he wanted something that doesn't spoil or weigh very much. I don't think "he wasn't very hungry" is the most likely reading, and I did take the phrasing the way Parsimon takes it, as a way of maintaining dignity.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:08 PM
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Overlapping comments. So

--Why cookies? Who the fuck knows.

--"If they have them." I go with maintaining dignity by attempting not to appear desperate, rather than genuine nonchalance.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:10 PM
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49: Oh, I'd buy the distinction: His thought process is "I'm going to toss out something minor in case this doesn't work out - either he turns me down, or the whole thing turns into a hassle, or I don't know it's just an odd situation." It's sort of self-protective not to say "God, I really dearly need something dire that makes me look hopeless."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:10 PM
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My mom's reaction was "sugar warms you up."

I think of fat as more desirable in cold weather, is that wrong?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:11 PM
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48: I'm being more sympathetic to the store here than you are. But unless they're flaming racists who are actually prohibiting large black men generally from the store, they banned him after some actual interaction. Given that he said that they wouldn't let him stand in the entryway to distribute his papers, which means that he either asked if he could, or just started doing it until they asked him to leave, my guess is that he was spending extended periods of time in the store to stay warm, and saying that he was shopping when asked to leave, which ultimately resulted in being told that he wasn't allowed to 'shop' there anymore. If what he had been doing was genuinely shopping, it's hard to see what would have have made the management ban him.

If I'm guessing reasonably accurately, not wanting a homeless man loitering in the store for long periods of time seems kind of reasonable, in terms of the effect it might have on other customers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:12 PM
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54: I think you underestimate just how much some people really don't want to be reminded that there are homeless people in the world. Much less their neighborhood.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:15 PM
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Why cookies: because sugar, quick energy. Ogged's mom is right. Also seeming less of an imposition than asking for, I don't know, a roast chicken.

48: the argument is something like, "you can see why they wouldn't want a large black man with difficulties that lead to homelessness shopping there," apparently.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:16 PM
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Certainly, if his behavior within the store has been uniformly appropriate, it is absolutely improper of the store management to have banned him. It's just not my first guess.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:19 PM
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The store is probably angry that the homeless guy is standing outside their store, turning away customers, but they've asked the cops and the cops won't force him to move. So they are being petty dicks to the guy by not letting him come inside, plus they're probably scared of him because he's homeless and smells bad, etc. Or maybe he threatened to bite the legs of some store employees and chew on them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:22 PM
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58 is probably right. Which is why we need more and better programs to help people so that they don't have to stand outside grocery stores asking for food or money.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:25 PM
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As noted in 43, I couldn't agree more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:26 PM
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And of course why we should help them when they do stand outside grocery stores asking.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:28 PM
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It sounds like LB thinks this guy is a big faker. LB, don't you think that's a rather premature judgment?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:29 PM
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Doesn't seem like he's asking. Seems like he is politely responding when politely pressed.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:30 PM
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Generally, sure. I just hate to impose a moral responsibility on a particular grocery store to provide the services this guy needs, because it's where he's decided to stand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:30 PM
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On the juxtaposition of rich and poor, is this really a "poverty" situation? My understanding, which could be wrong, is that almost certainly what we're looking at here is someone suffering from a debilitating combination of mental illness and addiction. Homelessness covers a lot of very different scenarios (mental health, poverty, abuse) with little in common with each other.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:32 PM
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Well, he's probably also poor.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:34 PM
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I can't believe this asshole hedge fund manager is standing outside the grocery store he tried to shut down in a leveraged buyout pretending to be homeless so he can sell newspapers he stole from a blind orphan child and trick people into buying him sweets.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:34 PM
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I feel incredibly heartless saying this, but my reaction to the story in the OP is that the guy wasn't particularly hungry -- a polite demurral followed by "vanilla wafers, if they have them," sounds like someone who's not feeling pressured in terms of getting fed.

You might not be especially hungry, but you might like a change. It just so happens that I am actually pretty good friends - like, hang out at my house friends, sleep at my house when the weather is really bad friends - with a guy who has been in and out of serious, sleeping-rough homelessness. He's a sharp guy with a rough personal history - abuse, poverty - but also some work experience as an organizer, was active with Idle No More, etc. He's a smart fellow, so literally keeping himself fed isn't that difficult, but what he always says is that he gets so sick of the kinds of food he has access to. (Currently he's got a job and a place to stay, but he has been completely homeless for extended periods of his life.)

There's a lot of weird stuff, I have learned, about being homeless. For instance, if you're clever and high-functioning, it's not that difficult to get even quite good clothes - my friend is always dressed pretty nicely and artily because he's really good at spotting the best stuff in the free box. You may even have a laptop or a fancy phone, because you might luck into one - someone gives you an old one or there's a grant and cheap ones are being given away.

It's the stress and the boredom and the never-getting-to-relax and the limited-ability-to-plan-ahead that get you down. And the fact that you're always either carrying everything you own or trying to cache it, and you're having to move all around the city all the time - maybe you sleep at one end of the city, but the food is at the other. Anything can be a crisis - a heavy rain, an unexpected coldsnap, a problem with a bus pass. Even a smart and skilled person like the guy I know can get kind of shell-shocky after a while, because you just never get really deeply asleep and you're always on the lookout. Now that he's got a place to stay, he's much more focused because he's getting enough sleep. If you're homeless and you have depression or anxiety anyway, it can throw you into a much worse state that is harder to get out of.

I think that people are way, way more sketched out by most homeless folks than they should be.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:35 PM
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The best practice, given homelessness, would be for every grocery store to have a side program whereby they set aside the food they toss every night -- and you know they do toss a lot, daily -- to give to the homeless. Some do pass stuff along to food kitchens, but food safety regulations can get in the way. I know there are some stores with an unofficial, under the table, or outside the back door, practice of putting things out back as of 11 p.m. or such.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:37 PM
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That's sort of what I was ineptly trying to get at here. "Homelessness" has a lot of meanings -- people holding down jobs while being shuffled around the shelter system, kids in school without fixed addresses, all kinds of stories. And there aren't enough services generally for people in any kind of economic or other difficulty.

But someone who's obviously 'homeless', a visible street person like this guy, is very likely, as far as I know, to have a complex cocktail of problems that go well beyond simple poverty, and that are likely to make appropriate behavior difficult. Someone in that position needs help, but it's not necessarily going to be the kind of help that can be usefully provided by non-professionals without imposing a lot of costs on them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:38 PM
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70 to 65.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:40 PM
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I guess this is vaguely on topic and it's been making my head explode for a couple days now, so: some neighbors came by this weekend to try to get us on board with this campaign to stop what they are super obnoxiously calling a "violent group home"--but which is in fact a halfway house for up to six juvenile drug offenders--from going in on the next block. So much tendentious bullshit. Of course their only concerns are that (1) we know this place will house scary violent criminals [we know no such thing, though admittedly many of them are likely to be black so why split hairs I guess?] and there's an elementary school on the next block! and (2) it's a known fact that there are drug dealers in this neighborhood [which makes it so distinctive in DC!] so it's for these violent criminals' struggling kids' own good to keep them away from temptation! I'm sure they're not at all worried about about their gentrification-stoked property value aspirations. Disgusting.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:41 PM
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The homeless folks I've interacted with have tended to resemble Frowner's description fairly well. I've run into the occasional belligerent lunatic who really needs institutionalization, but for the most part it's just people who are down on their luck and dealing with issues heavier than I can really grapple with.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:41 PM
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Ick. If there's one thing I hate more than another, it's NIMBYism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:42 PM
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People I talk to somewhat often who are in the know complain about how the visible homeless actually take a disproportionate share of scarce anti-poverty resources; people who are able to keep their family basically housed but are still desperately, painfully, unable-to-buy-food-and-essentials poor but not actually homeless aren't as visible, and so don't get the same level of attention.

None of which speaks to what kind of sick game the hedge fund manager ogged encountered is playing. I bet he's trying to get a reality show going.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:42 PM
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Yeah, I mean 70 is sort of true as far as it goes, but probably letting homeboy come into the store to buy something now and then with the money he's earned from selling papers is not going to be too much of a burden, unless he's way more aggressive or crazy than Ogged is describing, and which seems pretty unlikely given that he's been active enough to get it together to sell stuff.

Also I think that the best solution even for homeless people who are seriously fucking crazy is to get them a place to stay and treat them as functional human beings.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:43 PM
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74: If there's one thing I can't stand in my back yard it's NIMBYism.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:44 PM
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I'm generalizing from myself, but I think poignant or unexpected interactions that throw homelessness into a different focus are often striking.

And the fact that you're always either carrying everything you own or trying to cache it . . . Anything can be a crisis . . .

A month or two ago I overheard a conversation between two women in front of the library. One was upset complaining about somebody having stolen a bunch of her stuff, concluding, on the verge of angry tears, "and you know the police aren't going to care because I'm homeless."

It just made me think about difficult it must be to change your life at that point. If you have stability even if things are rough it's possible to keep making incremental improvements. But if you can't trust that you can hold onto anything . . .

Depressing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:46 PM
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Everyone listen to Frowner. Really, the food thing is often the least of their worries. Hunger and such gets results on a panhandling placard but that money you give them is going straight to booze and drugs. Donate to organizations that do things like get them into subsidized housing and provide services like assisting them in getting their picture ID so they can apply for jobs and other benefits.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:46 PM
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There's a really interesting case of NIMBYism in our new neighborhood: we're provisionally slated to get a new MBTA train extension pretty nearby, and people are fighting it on the grounds that it would... raise rents. Which, yeah, actually, that's hard to argue with. But only because the neighborhood is really ill-served by public transit right now, which sucks for everybody! It's a funny circle to square.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:47 PM
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I bought someone who claimed to be homeless a sandwich recently but I don't know if she came back to the shop to pick it up. She walked out after ordering.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:49 PM
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I overheard a conversation between two women in front of the library. One was upset complaining about somebody having stolen a bunch of her stuff, concluding, on the verge of angry tears, "and you know the police aren't going to care because I'm homeless. it was bitcoin."

Hooray! I took something terrible and made it hilarious!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:49 PM
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75.1: yeah, I was just considering that. There's a great thing started up here in Balto, I'm forgetting its name at the moment, where a guy and his mates gather up the unsold overflow from the weekly Farmer's Market -- the farmers just donate it -- and they bring it all to one location, and distribute it in the afternoon to everyone who comes by for it. Usually working poor families. Fresh veggies. It's become quite a big to-do every weekend for those who aren't actually homeless (so have food prep capabilities) but quite strapped.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:49 PM
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68, 73: It's the homeless/street-person distinction I'm thinking of here. Someone like Frowner's friend, as described, probably isn't getting banned from grocery stores, because you'd need to know him to know he was homeless.

I guess what I'm pushing back against here is the sense from the original post that the presence of this guy in a rich neighborhood is particularly obscene, because a small fraction of the wealth in any of the surrounding households would solve his problems, and someone should just pony up and do it. And I'm just really doubting that non-professional generosity would do much for him, in the absence of a system of social services that gets him whatever mental health/addiction/housing support he needs.

That's not a reason not to buy him cookies -- if someone wants cookies, they should have them. But he's not standing on a streetcorner for days at a time because the people in the grocery store are dicks about letting him in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:50 PM
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"and you know the police aren't going to care because I'm homeless."

Buck up, we don't care about petty theft even from rich people!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:50 PM
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Everyone listen to Frowner.

Watch for sleeping homeless people and you may get a free laptop?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:52 PM
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Heh. The one time I've been burgled, I called the cops, and found it incredibly dispiriting talking to them about it. I hadn't quite realized until they were there that yes, there was absolutely nothing realistic I expected them to do for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:53 PM
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Happily the definition of "petty theft" has a sliding scale based on total net worth. So if you're rich you better have gotten a boat stolen but if you're poor then definitely that coat that you need to keep from freezing is going to catch the police's attention.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:54 PM
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The cops actually came out for you? They refused to come out for the home break-in that took lots of our stuff. Then we said "But we're out of town and our front door is left open." and they said "Do you have a friend who could stop by? File your report on our website and don't bother us anymore."


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:04 PM
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there was absolutely nothing realistic I expected them to do for me.

Yeah, it'd be nice to be able to do more but loads of stolen stuff is totally untrackable and even if it is people often haven't written down serial numbers and such. Technology has made it way easier to track the pawn shop activity but the flip side is Craigslist and other sites where you can sell totally under the radar.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:05 PM
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the presence of this guy in a rich neighborhood is particularly obscene

My neighborhood gets lots of the desperately homeless because it is affluent. I suspect it's better than lots of neighborhoods in DC proper in terms of both services and safety (and quiet). I don't run into many obviously homeless people who appear even marginally functional. I'm pretty sure I walk past a halfway house/group home of some kind on my way to work, but it's the nicest one I've ever seen.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:06 PM
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89: That might have been literally because you weren't there? I was in the apartment, within hours after the break-in had happened.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:12 PM
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someone should just pony up and do it

Not what I'm saying. Just that there's clearly enough money floating around that there could be services for this guy and people like him, but getting those funded isn't a priority.

As for not letting him in, I'm not really seeing the disagreement. I don't think they need to let him stay inside. But unless they have a good reason, they should let him shop. I'll ask a manager the next time I get a chance.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:13 PM
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Yeah, the only disagreement is that my strong first guess is that they do have a good reason, if you're willing to count "not letting him stay inside" as opposed to simply shopping, as a good reason.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:15 PM
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don't bother us anymore

I swear I'm going to put "don't call me, I'll call you" on my work voicemail. "If you're asking about your car, of course it's still missing. You think I found it and just didn't bother letting you know? I will not be calling you back and will instead be outside actually looking for stolen cars."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:20 PM
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I bought someone who claimed to be homeless

Not cool. Not in my backyard, not anywhere. Slavery is just wrong, bro.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:45 PM
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Someone rich enough could pony up by paying the rent on an apartment for the guy. I mean, that's a big commitment, but it would solve at least one of his big problems, which is not having a home. It's not like there's literally nothing people could do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:58 PM
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Anyhow, this organization which is super awesome says that the way to end homelessness, even for severely screwed up people, is pretty simple: get them homes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:00 PM
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Also, to tie a whole lot of threads and Unfogged related interests together and also shamelessly fundraise, if you're still interested in Veronica Mars/seeing Kristen Bell stuff, you can spend $500 in donations that will actually significantly help the homeless and go to another Veronica Mars themed thing with Kristen Bell by clicking here, the first 100 people to donate $500 get to go to a screening with her on March 16. And if you donate through my page and we raise a lot of money such that I'm one of the top fundraisers then there's an invite to some after party with the Veronica Mars cast. If you are a VM fan and want to donate and I get the tickets I won't even try and go to the afterparty, which I don't care about. Do it!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:08 PM
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Meanwhile, here in knifecrime isle, we had the police dedicate themselves quite admirably to the theft of a £5 knife. We weren't particularly bothered by the theft itself, but not knowing the thief, were concerned that it might come into play in a bad way and we should let someone know. It turned out that he was homeless and had recently lost his possessions when his hidey-hole had been boarded up. He's not being prosecuted, which is the right choice - I was really impressed with how the police handled the whole thing, really. And they've given the same level of care to all our thefts, even though none of them have been particularly important.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:10 PM
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83: One of my regular charities is a local outfit that does food-redistribution like that: Food For Free. A very tangible cause.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:14 PM
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99 is very tempting (although it would almost certainly require a bunch of donations for you to win, in which case how would the afterparty tickets be allocated?), and I might even do it as a birthday present for IB if it weren't for the whole LA thing. But you are aware that the link reveals your identity, right?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:51 PM
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Yes, maybe Nosflow can take it down in a day or so. If I get the afterparty tickets, I'll give the tickets to the two people who (besides me) donate the most money. But I think if you donate $500 now you still get two automatic tickets to the screening -- which might not be that great but still for a good cause.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:54 PM
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Or, I guess I should clarify, if you donate I'll give my tickets to the screening to the two people who donate the most. If I get the after-party tickets, those will also go to the people who donate the most. I don't much care about going myself.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:55 PM
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Alas for being unemployed and broke.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 5:57 PM
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Damn it now I feel that my scheme is unfair to the unemployed and broke.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 6:02 PM
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99: That link doesn't seem to have anything about teaching the homeless CrossFit.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 6:03 PM
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Somebody get trapnel some Nilla Wafers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 6:05 PM
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The homeless-helping organization in 99 is one of the better ones in town. I worked on opening a permanent supportive housing complex with them and we got beat up quite a bit by the local neighborhood harpy (who actually lived 2 miles away).


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 6:07 PM
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Everyone listen to Frowner. Really, the food thing is often the least of their worries. Hunger and such gets results on a panhandling placard but that money you give them is going straight to booze and drugs. Donate to organizations that do things like get them into subsidized housing and provide services like assisting them in getting their picture ID so they can apply for jobs and other benefits.

The funny thing is, I always give people money. Partly because I have friends to whom I used to give the odd ten bucks when they didn't have bus fare, and those friends were really just a piece of bad luck away from spanging on the street themselves, and they weren't looking for drugs, just bus fare and a little walking around money. Partly because who am I, the fucking judge and jury? My humanity is damaged when I set myself up to mingily tell people in my best bourgeoise lady voice that I can't give them fifty cents, my humanity is damaged when I greet a fellow being who is making a modest request as if I am some kind of sin-sniffer. Partly because I think that allowing money to have that much power over human relations sucks. Partly because I don't think hipster rich people should be the only ones who can get drugs. Partly because I know from experience with friends and acquaintances that it doesn't all get spent on drugs and alcohol. Partly because I know that there's this whole complex interrelationship of drug buying, social relationships around drug use and survival sex. Buying and using drugs isn't just about buying and using drugs. Partly because I think a lot of people aren't going to be able to quit drugs without a lot of support and a secure place to stay, and no matter how much donating or lobbying I do, I can't get them a secure place to stay today.

I used to know a guy (he's probably dead now, he was old then) about whom it was difficult to say whether he was using crack in order to use crack or using crack in order to be able to stay inside the crack house rather than outside in the cold. (Shelters can be pretty bad - one reason my friend was staying on the street a lot was that the shelters were so terrible in terms of racism, violence and theft.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 6:58 PM
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Would it help if the nearby houses were subdivided into four half-million dollar condos?

Only if they're 20 stories high!


Posted by: opinionated yglesias | Link to this comment | 02-27-14 7:44 AM
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1: 111 was me
2: frowner NAILS it in 110
3: even if there are services, there are gonna be homeless - many are nuts have complicated feelings & don't want your services.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-27-14 9:54 AM
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This is a great thread. And I'm so glad to read Frowner's 110. This really gets to me: Partly because I think that allowing money to have that much power over human relations sucks.

Preach it.

101: Sounds excellent. The Baltimore version, Gather Baltimore, is relatively new, but is picking up steam, with profiles on local public radio, fundraisers at local restaurants, and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-27-14 7:10 PM
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My humanity is damaged when I set myself up to mingily tell people in my best bourgeoise lady voice that I can't give them fifty cents, my humanity is damaged when I greet a fellow being who is making a modest request as if I am some kind of sin-sniffer.

Give me a fucking break. Most people have limited funds to give. Our shelter has a seen a spike in the number of homeless families and is critically low on supplies for kids and babies. Shockingly, people often think that's a better place for their money than subsidizing some fucking oogle's tar habit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-27-14 7:47 PM
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