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Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Became a Panhandler Last Night

"Hey, guys." (to three men entering the gas station where I was standing, wanting to cry but remaining upbeat)

"I just went to the service station across the street, wrote a check and their machine to read it was not working. And, this station won't take any checks." (after 10 pm and 50 mi from home at a seedy gas station in a hollow and not well-lit. My car is running on fumes and the next station is a good 15 miles away.)

"Can any of you help me? I don't have enough gas to get to another station that will take a check."

First guy,"I only have enough for cigarettes." 

Me in a soft voice, "You don't have a dollar you can give me?" (he peels off a dollar) "Thank you."

"Can you help?" (to the guy who is trying to get past me into the store and shakes his head no)

Me, "Okay, thanks." (he dips his hand in his pocket and says that maybe this will help)

"Ooooh, thanks, I am not too proud to take change, THANK YOU soooo much." He had a really large hand and a really full pocket.

"Do you think he will help?" (pointing to friend of first guy who is checking out. The friend hears me and just sticks a dollar behind his back.) I grab it.

Me, squealing in delight, "Thanks guys, I have enough to get to another station to write a check...thanks soooo much." Oh, Happy Day. I now have a little over $3 and put gas in the car.

I don't need any stupid lectures about not being prepared. In over forty years of driving, I have never been in this situation.

But, I was panhandling at a rate of $180/hr. since it took me less than a minute to panhandle the $3 I needed.

Now, I have to give money or something to someone, not that I don't already give to others.

This occurred in July of 2009. There was no one to bail me out, so I sucked it up and started begging. I would hate to have to beg for money on a full-time basis or even occassionally.

Some of the panhandlers I see are scoring twenties right and left. How much do they make? Let's see, if a guy gets a $20 every ten minutes on the average, that is 60 min. divided 10= 6 x $20=$120/hr. x 6 hrs/day= $720/day. That is astounding. Okay, let's say the guy has slow times during the day and does not get a $20 each ten minutes. He is still making some serious money!

Let's keep going with this. $720 x 5 days=$3600/wk x 50 weeks=$180,000.00/ free?

I think I have found my calling! Did I do that math right?

Let's just cut that in half because he cannot stand in the rain and some days it may just be too hot or too cold or maybe his feet hurt. Maybe his luck holds up only part of the time. Let's just do some drastic revisions and say he may "only" get $90,000.00 for the year at $60/hr.

Yeah, I will still listen to my inner voice and panhandle, my calling. I won't be greedy; I can live with only $50/hr. Can you?

Update: I was kidding! No, I have never done that before or since.


  1. Very interesting. But you know those things really do happen to people and we should be able help them out without feeling we are being scammed.

  2. Carol, I realized I could get more money easily, but all those guys saw me leave when I had about $3, just what I wanted to get to the next station to get gas. It would not have felt right to stay and panhandle until I could fill the tank, even though I easily could have. Believe me, I did not look like the ordinary panhandler!


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