Having spent several years playing grown up now (you know, apartment hunting, paying bills, figuring out life and all that good stuff), I’ve made a pretty funny observation. An observation of something which is funny. Not funny-haha…more funny-what-the-shit. Understand?
Back in my days of grocery store clerking, my company had a multitude of annual fund raisers. The general formula was the same for most of them. Donate a dollar, get some coupons. Donate five dollars, get better coupons. Donate anything really, sign a silly little cardboard sign to plaster your name on the wall and tell the world of supermarket patrons what an altruistic soul you are. More often than not, though, I was simply told to ask for the donations. So I did.
In fact, I “sold” the most of those little fucking signs a few years in a row. I got it down to a science. After a while, you learned to distinguish between those people you asked and those you delicately passed over. Asking the right, polite, and ever so slightly manipulative way earned me five dollars instead of a measly one dollar. There was skill involved…finesse. But at the end of the day, I was a professional money moocher. There were a few days in there that I raised close to $150 by the end of an eight hour shift. And that’s on top of whatever else my job entailed, mind you.
Essentially, I was being paid to panhandle.
Now I wouldn’t dare claim to be a mathematician, but I want to explain something here. I made about $9 an hour around that time. That means that at the end of a regular eight hour shift, I earned $81…before taxes. In that same amount of time, I was able to get random people to simply hand me up to (and often over) $100. All I had to do was ask for it.
“But that was for charity,” I hear you mumble at me. “Surely nobody in their right mind would give money away like that to just anyone.” I’m here to tell you with great certainty straight to those eyeballs in your face sockets…you are wrong.
I’ve become quite familiar with panhandlers as of late. They litter the city, badgering passersby for anything from spare change to “just $20, man.” With my professional background in money moochery, I can even pick out the newbies from the veterans. Some of them (whether their personal stories are real or not) are undeniably skilled at manipulating the heartstrings of a crowd. They’re the ones that do well.
Many of the more experienced in the bunch can walk onto a train car, collect anywhere from $2-$10 and walk off to the next car in less than five minutes. For the sake of being academic (and please still considering my non-mathematician nature), let’s say that they’re super persistent in their panhandling and consistent in their cash flow. That would earn them about $24-$120 in an hour! I know that’s probably a bit more than the average panhandler makes, but go with me on this.
Allow me to add some perspective for you. I currently work two part time jobs making $10 an hour at each respectively. After taxes are said and done, this money goes to my rent, utilities, transportation, food and other various living expenses. Bills people…bills. Then come along the panhandlers (most of whom actually are or choose to present themselves as dirty, smelly and otherwise in a state of mess) making on a slow day twice what I do being an ‘upstanding citizen.’ Oh…no taxes to worry about either.
How’s that for a huge April Fool’s joke, huh?
With all this said, I’m fortunate and very grateful to be in a city that I love working jobs that make me happy inside. But there are those within my friend circle even who make less than I do, far less than some panhandlers, and loathe their current situation. I guess the joke really is on us, my friends.
April Fools, indeed.