Too Cynical?

On one hand, I’m far too trusting. Unless someone gives me a reason, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Usually. But I’ve seen the subject of helping ‘panhandlers’ out come up a couple of times recently, and both times have taken a long, hard look at myself.

Granted, I don’t see too many people holding signs out, but I’ve had some that approach me with a story. They’ve driven to my area from a distance of up to a couple of hours. It’s always to help out a family member or friend in need…and now they don’t have enough gas money to get back home.

I have a problem with that. Obviously started off knowing they didn’t have enough gas, nor the money to fill the tank once they got here.

If I were that broke, I’d probably have tried to help the person in need find someone in a better position to help them. If there was actually a person in need to begin with. But I certainly wouldn’t put myself in a position where I would have only two choices…be stranded, or start begging.

So yes, I’m cynical. I’ve helped enough people out in the past, only to find out later that I was scammed, and now I’m leery of helping anyone. And so I limit what I do to organizations.

At the top of the list is Hospice. This wonderful organization helps make dying people more comfortable. They provide medical care, either at the patient’s home, or a peaceful environment in nice home-like buildings. And many of them do it at no cost to the patient or family. They exist entirely on cash donations, or clothing, furniture and other household items donated to their stores.

They have given top-notch care to several of my dying relatives, including my dad and grandparents, and they will always have a special place in my heart.

I will also donate to food drives.

But I flatly refuse to give cash to strangers. The people I’ve known, the ones who don’t think twice about stealing from friends and acquaintances, are part of the reason. But reports like this don’t help either. The thieves look so genuine that you can’t tell that they’re doing a job.

What about you? If you see someone with a sign, telling about how down on their luck they are, or someone approaches you asking for cash, what do you do?

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12 Responses to Too Cynical?

  1. These people peg my skepticism meter! I always wonder, how do I know you’re really a vet? Or like you, why’d you drive here if you didn’t have gas? And with the stories in the news, I also fear they might be planning to do worse than take my money under false pretenses. +1 for Hospice, and for giving your money to a cause where you know it will be used for good!

  2. Debra Kristi says:

    I tend to be cynical as well. I’ve seen the one’s you try to give food to and they won’t take it. I’ve also seen too many reports of them walking away to get in their very nice Ford Explorer or something. It’s sad that people like that hurt the ones really in need. 🙁

    • I know. That’s why I’m pretty choosy about the ones I donate to. Hospice you know the donations go to make dying people more comfortable. And after what happened with my dad and grandparents, and a couple of aunts and uncles, that’s important to me.

      But someone on the street? I just don’t see me ever doing that.

  3. mj monaghan says:

    Hmm, I’m cynical, but yet there are certain times when I feel I should give something. I gave up trying to figure out if there scamming or not. I know where my heart is when I give, and what they do with the money is their choice. I can’t help that part.

    All that said, I rarely give any money to someone on a street corner like the video shows. On our recent trip, MLB gave money to a young pregnant woman who said she needed money for gas. Who knows, though.

    • I try to not be this way, MJ, but as I explained to Natalie above, I’ve just seen too much I guess. I stick with the organizations. Although I do look for opportunities to help others. Unfortunately it’s usually people I know who are in need. I just don’t trust strangers all that much. 🙂

  4. gingercalem says:

    I’m in the cynical group. I’ve never handed out money to pan-handlers. I’d rather give them food if I can. But that recalls a time I tried to do just that. My family was leaving the spaghetti factory. I was late teens, I think. A guy sitting on the sidewalk asked for spare change. I said I didn’t have any but offered him our leftovers. Fresh, hot spaghetti. He told me he didn’t want food that had touched my lips but would rather have my lips instead. WTH!! Yeah, enter cynicism.

  5. How freaking sad is that?! I have to say…I saw a movie once where the guy was making 40K a year panhandling and it’s always made me wonder about people I see on the street. The other night my BFF and I were leaving the coffee shop. It was cold out. We were walking down the street and there was a teenager sitting by a building with his hat out for donations. I thought about. I considered it. Until I saw him talking on his CELLPHONE?! You can afford a cellphone…you obviously have funds my friend. I was irate. Felt like he was trying to play us all for a fool.

    There is one man I do give to periodically. Our city is small so I seen him walking around downtown and hanging out at the local shelter so I am comfortable when I hand him some change after getting my coffee, he’s the real deal. But for the most part, I am like you Kristy. I prefer to give my time and money to an organization that I KNOW is working to help people…I believe it’s a better use of my dollars because it goes to help not only the people in need but the organization itself stay afloat which employees people etc…

    I don’t think you are being cynical…just realistic to the scams that are out there….sad that there are people out there like that!

    • Yeah, the cell phone thing would have gotten to me, too. I have just seen too much to trust much. Especially when we rented the first floor apartment in town. A couple rented the one upstairs…and they bragged about all the places they took advantage of. Getting free food and gifts from churches and other organizations during the holidays, free clothes from a clothing bank…that they sold during summer-long rummage sales.

      And another couple that was worse, going on and on about how the homeless shelter houses in our town were better than the ones the bigger city twenty miles away. They also complained…COMPLAINED… because they had to pay $240 a month for a nice two-story house (and it INCLUDED utilities), and how the shelter stopped giving them gas and phone cards, and laundry vouchers. I was paying $550 for a small, 2-bedrrom apartment PLUS utilities, and no free gas, telephone or laundry. It just made me sick.

      So yeah, I guess I’ve seen too much (and these are only two of many examples). 🙂

  6. I too am very cynical in a lot of aspects of life. I prefer to look at it as being realistic, not cyncial (maybe that makes me an optimist?) since it seems like fewer and fewer people do the right thing nowadays. Sometimes I will give a dollar or two to a homeless person, sometimes I won’t. I go by feel. In addition to a hospice, local soup kitchens are good places to donate food, clothing, and cash. Given that we are approaching the holidays and that the economy is still in the tank, those organizations will need as much help as those of us can muster to give.

    • To the best of my knowledge, we don’t have places like that around here, but I’ll definitely be contributing to the food collection boxes around town. Not sure what else there is, but Hospice is, and likely will always be, my favorite place to give. Glad to know that others are there for those in need, too. 🙂

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