As sunny weather begins to return to the Northwest, so do the problems associated with warmer temperatures, including one of our area’s most troublesome nuisances: panhandlers.
The street beggars have begun their yearly migration back to the green utopia of the greater Seattle area, and by mid-June you’ll hardly be able to drive three blocks without being accosted by dozens of their carefully crafted cardboard pleas. It used to be that they stuck to downtown street corners, but surveys in recent years have found panhandlers in over 87% of Puget Sound neighborhoods.
You’re a compassionate person, but you can’t give them money every time you drive by. Most of the time you’re forced to avoid eye contact and stare shamefully at the steering wheel of your Prius as you wait for the light to change.
Keep in mind, we’re not talking about the homeless here. We’re talking about the bums out there that turn down real help from organizations such as Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and instead choose to stand around on street corners looking scruffy and holding up a sign asking for handouts. We’re also not talking about the bums holding those condo for sale signs. While buying a condo in today’s housing market is a lot like giving your money away, the condo sign-twirlers are being paid an hourly wage for their “work.”
Some cities are taking measures to reduce panhandling, such as a plan in San Francisco to install “homeless meters” that can collect your spare change and direct it to organizations that are equipped to help those that are truly in need. A ridiculous scheme such as that is doomed to failure, which is probably why no Puget Sound city has announced similar plans.
So do we just throw up our hands and surrender our cities and towns to the swelling ranks of unshaven pity-mongers? Of course not! Thankfully, there is a solution—one that regular citizens can implement all on their own.
Here’s how you can do your part to stop panhandling in your neck of the woods:
- Organize a neighborhood meeting. Tell everyone that you have a foolproof plan to end panhandling.
- Set up a schedule where everyone takes a shift standing at nearby street corners and highway on-ramps with handwritten cardboard signs, just like real bums.
- When drivers attempt to give them money, instead of (or in addition to, if you like) receiving their money, throw a dead rat into their vehicle (partial decomposition optional).
Within a month (maximum) word will get out, and drivers will stop giving money to panhandling bums in your neighborhood for fear of having a dead rat thrown into their car, guaranteed. When people stop giving money to panhandling bums, the bums will stop panhandling. End of problem.
Some may ask: “Just where are we supposed to get all these dead rats? Should we practice animal abuse, or rob graves after they’ve passed away peacefully?” Good question. Fortunately, there is no need to abuse animals or rob graves. Simply get the rats from people whose very job is to practice animal abuse: Exterminators.
So there you have it: The perfect solution to end panhandling, no government money required. After you eliminate the panhandling bums from your neighborhood, be sure to throw a parade or something to celebrate your ingenuity. You’ve earned it.