General Question

LDRSHIP's avatar

How do you feel when you see a homeless person?

Asked by LDRSHIP (1784points) May 12th, 2014

First, second and third thought that enters your mind.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

95 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

‘Helm, evasive manoeuvres’

JLeslie's avatar

Mostly worried and sad.

whitenoise's avatar

Checking for small bills.

Pachy's avatar

Sad, usually moved to give a few bucks while thinking “There but for the grace of…”

This is what my friend does.

anniereborn's avatar

“poor guy/woman” followed by “I wish I could help” followed by “Please let that never be me”

seekingwolf's avatar

“Oh no. He/She is probably going to ask for money and I never carry bills or change on me. I am going to walk over here instead.”

I don’t give $$ to panhandlers anyway. To soup kitchens/shelters, yes. But directly to the people, no. I don’t want to risk funding someone’s drug issue.

Mimishu1995's avatar

1. Poor soul. Wish I could help.
2. Maybe… I can spare some money?
3. Nononono, that may be some kind of scam.

longgone's avatar

I feel sad, guilty and uneasy.

ucme's avatar

Clean, safe, lucky

elbanditoroso's avatar

Immediate feeling is – I don’t give to individuals, I give to organizations, and I do give to organizations.

Second feeling is: this guy (it’s almost always a man) would be much more successful if he washed his face and maybe went to the shelter and showered.

Third feeling is: If this guy really wanted a job, he could find one.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso You do realize that a portion of homeless people are mentally ill and truly might have trouble holding a job. They are still human beings.

Blackberry's avatar

Sadness, then shame because I didn’t give them any money.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Guilt that I can’t give them any spare change (I rarely have cash on me and, even when I do, I am struggling so much, financially, at the moment, that every penny is allocated to food, bills or fuel etc). I then worry that if they ask for spare change and I say “sorry I don’t have any”, they will think that I am lying and that my financially difficulties are nothing compared to their’s (which they aren’t, obviously) so I then find myself trying not to make eye contact which makes me feel like a shitty human being. If I do have a bit of money on me and things aren’t as tight that month, then I try and give what I can.

seekingwolf's avatar


I’m with you on the organizations bit (don’t give to people, give to organizations) but most homeless people have drug issues and/or mental illness. For many, it’s a combination of both, because untreated mental illness and drug abuse tends to go hand-in-hand. It’s not as simple as washing your face and getting a job. If you’re a junkie, maybe, just maybe, you could GET a job, but I highly doubt you could keep it because of the drug abuse and the need to get a fix. It just makes a dysfunctional person.

Many of these homeless people need some serious detox to get off the drugs (preferably inpatient services), and then serious therapy/support services to stay off of them and help them transition into a normal life. Think halfway houses. Programs to get them working in a trade and then some of that money will go toward the house and they need a curfew to adhere to. Many of these people don’t even know how to fill out applications, get a bank account, how to write properly, etiquette, etc. We are talking basic, basic life skills here.

This is why I am very happy to donate my $$ to shelters and other programs, but not to individuals. These people are sick and need serious professional help, not your spare change. It may feel “good” to give them spare money but when you think of the likelihood that the money will just go into their veins, it doesn’t feel so good. Let’s not kid ourselves anymore.

They need you to be compassionate but not enabling.

zenvelo's avatar

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

majorrich's avatar

I am fortunate to live In a small enough town that it is rare to see homeless people and my lifestyle is reclusive enough that I’ve not seen any here. In my travels, while taking my son on college visitations. I was mostly curious of what their story is/was. What I would feel like if I were in their situation, then thankful for what I’ve been blessed with.

GloPro's avatar

I make eye contact. I say hello. I apologize that I cannot help them today.

Sometimes I give them food if I’m carrying it. I’ll just hand it over. Sometimes, if I’m headed for food I’ll buy them some, too.

I never pull out cash. Their money doesn’t get them into the same places it gets me given their appearance. The only open doors they find are liquor stores. So I bring nutrition and good wishes to them.

That’s my town, where I identify the same 3 bums. In a bigger city with more indigent, I would stick to the eye contact, acknowledgement, and apology.

Cruiser's avatar

I do feel bad for them as life has to be so hard being homeless and I donate regularly to our local shelter. My mom lives in Florida and says there are about 20 families living in the swamp/woods near where she lives. My eyes were really opened up a few years back when my old boss had a nephew roll into town with his girlfiend and they had been homeless over 2 years and were on their way to Washington state. They started in Massachusetts and were halfway there here in Chicago. They stunk to high heaven were wearing clothes stitched together with dental floss. He took them home they showered and he washed their clothes. He offered to buy them a new wardrobe and they refused as they said one…wearing good clothes will drastically impact their ability to pan handle and get money and food and it will attract thieves who would more than likely mug them and take their clothes.

I will tell you this…they were the 2 happiest people I had ever met. They said they don’t have a worry in the world, no bills and eat everyday.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, the “There but for the grace of…” go I.
I also give money when I can and have zero attachment to how it’s spent.
Just because someone is homeless, mentally ill or an addict of some sort, does not mean we should infantalize them and strip what dignity they have by controlling how they spend out little pittance of a “gift.”
If you’re going to give, actually GIVE without control strings attached.

There is a homeless guy in my community that has 3 golden retrievers and pulls around a little wagon. I have bought him QUALITY groceries and dog food on several occasions and saw him once getting dog food at our local animal services where they give out pet food to people with pets in need.
I have talked about my feelings on this subject fairly recently here in another question and I am a firm believer in “giving” in a manner that preserves human dignity.

If I “give” money I don’t care a whit how it is spent, the person can buy food, a bottle of wine or a joint for all I care. Whatever gets them through their day.
I agree with supporting shelters and food banks but strongly disagree with trying to control what someone spends your couple of bucks on. Pfft!

seekingwolf's avatar


So, it’s wrong of me to not want the money that I work hard for to be spent on drugs and promoting a drug culture that hurts people that I don’t agree with?

Oh how narrow-minded I have been!

Coloma's avatar

@seekingwolf I wasn’t directing my sentiments at you on a personal level, what I am saying is that if one attaches strings to an act of “giving” it is not giving, it is control.
We should “give”, for no other reason than as an act of kindness, period. Once a gift exchanges hands how it is spent or used is no longer our business.
An adult, regardless of their circumstance should not be treated as a child.

I stand by my sentiments, if I choose to give, I don’t care what the person does with the money after it leaves my hands. I am giving it with zero attachment as to how it is used, and yep, while I don;t promote alcoholism or drug abuse, if some poor soul chooses to buy a quart of beer and a candy bar, well, so be it.

Pachy's avatar

@Coloma, I completely agree with you. None of my business to know what the money will be used for.

seekingwolf's avatar


I don’t see giving to shelters/whatnot as merely “giving” but helping. I don’t see the point in giving these people anything if it’s not going to help them. Homelessness is a real problem that affects us all negatively (homeless and not-homeless) so why give them something that will likely not help the problem? Band-Aids and feel-good actions mean nothing if they are not helpful in the long run.

Choosing to only want to help them in constructive ways (versus just giving them money so they can feed their addictions if they have them) is not infantilizing them. It’s being aware that these people have issues and need help or else they may use that money to further hurt themselves. That’s because they are ill and need help, not because of a character flaw. I’m sorry, that’s just….so crazy to me to think that you’re somehow hurting someone by NOT giving them cash to help them slowly commit suicide with drugs. That’s just…wow. I’ve never heard that argument and I can’t even wrap my head around it. I almost see it as immoral to give someone money when you know that they likely have a drug problem and will just put it in their veins. How would you feel if a homeless person took your $$, bought crack, had a cardiac event, and died? I’d feel terrible knowing that I helped enable a sick homeless person to kill himself.

I used to have an alcoholic/opiate addicted friend (no longer a friend, he betrayed me) and he would ask for booze and money that was going to go to drugs. I only gave him food gifts as a result. If that makes me a bad friend who wasn’t “respecting” him, then call me a jack*ss, but I’d rather be that then enable a slow suicide.

I mean, hey, it’s your money. I just couldn’t rest easy knowing that I enabled someone’s addiction further. I would rather help, not give without any thought.

I’ve never given to beggars and never will. Hell, I’ve been to a 3rd world country and worked in the slums for a few weeks. Saw a lot of beggars there. Many “rented” children to use to try and get money which was then given back to local scam artists, not to the actual children. I don’t want to support deceit. I have given help to beggars by donating to services and working in a soup kitchen. There lies the difference.

seekingwolf's avatar

I am going to go a step further and say that if you are actively aware of someone with a drug issue (or strongly suspect it) and give them cold hard cash knowing that they are just going to harm themselves with it, then you are giving because you want to feel good inside for yourself. You are not giving because you care about that person and their well-being. If you cared about that person at all, you would not give them the means to hurt themselves. It’s like giving a depressed,mentally-ill person a gun with a bullet in it and saying “Well, since it’s a gift, I don’t have a say in how you use this, it’s up to you! I’m not going to stomp on your dignity by NOT giving you a gun!”. I just don’t know how you can stand by it.

I’m sorry I sound so appalled, I just..sorry.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I don’t feel a whole lot of anything, really. I suppose I don’t have much of a heart, and I have even less compassion for people (just ask my mother).

I rarely see homeless people here in South Carolina. I live in a more uppity part of town, so I usually only see them when we go to the park where they all seem to congregate. Sometimes they’ll ask if they can pet our dog, and of course we say yes, but there have been one or two that she didn’t like for some reason and ended up mean-growling at them. There was one guy that I’m pretty sure she fell in love with, though. He seemed like a decent guy. Still didn’t feel sad or concerned for him.

I don’t have bad feelings toward homeless people and my first thought isn’t, “why don’t you get off your lazy butt and get a job” or anything like that, but I don’t have good feelings about them either. They’re just people. I don’t know their story, so I feel pretty neutral about them. The woman in front of me at the grocery store might have a sadder life than these people, and I’m certainly not going to automatically feel bad for every stranger I see. Hell, some people are homeless by choice and they certainly don’t want my sympathy.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I give money straight to the homeless, and food sometimes if I happen to be carrying leftovers or a snack. I don’t care if they buy alcohol or drugs. I worked in a psych hospital and many of the people who were homeless we’re not drug addicts in any way shape or form. Our system fails the mentally ill, some do self medicate, but others don’t. I personally am not going to worry about whether my money goes to buy drugs or alcohol. A mini small percentage of our patients were out of control criminals, but most of the people were mild mannered, afraid, and just trying to make it through and they were not addicts. The old stats were around 35% of homeless people are addicts, I don’t know the updated figures. Not to mention some homeless people just hit a bad time and life just falls apart and they are just like you and me. It can happen to people one would never expect, and I think we should always think in terms of it can happen to us. As others have said, there but for the grace of God go I.

Addiction is extremely hard to get over, I don’t think holding money from a homeless addict helps them get the help they need to quit. I don’t think it is necessarily like enabling a brother or spouse. I think it is much more complicated than that. Shelters just help give shelter and feed a person, I don’t know how much they help people get off of drugs.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

When I see a homeless person nowadays, I am reminded how badly America deals with this growing problem. Studies conducted by homeless assistance groups show that almost 80% of these people either have mental problems that prevent them from holding jobs and contributing to society, or have substance abuse problems with underlying mental health problems with the same result. These people require medical assistance, medication, even time in an institution, if we can reasonably expect them to become taxpayers again. What they mostly get is jail time, or at best a 28-day rehab program—which is only a way to get clean and learn of the tools of sobriety, not enough time to realize the rewards of sobriety— then they are thrown back into the same environment they were pulled from, and often as not as felons. 28-day rehabs don’t address individual underlying causes of substance abuse thoroughly enough because 28 days is not long enough to do so. Most of 28 rehab therapy is in group therapy with very little individual care, other than the weekly status checks of the various therapists with each patient. I think most of these people want to come back, but the pull of the substances they have become slaves to is stronger than their desire to return. Therefore, they must be treated for their substance abuse before any realistic accomplishment on their part can be expected.

Of the rest, these are people who either haven’t the skills that would enable them to earn a living wage, or are physically unable—due to age or physical disability—to do the work they had done previously. They need training in vocational schools or even state college in order to solve their problem realistically. Instead, they sleep on the street or are given a meal or three a day, a cot, and possibly a shower at a homeless shelter, then told to get a job and kicked back into the street until nightfall. At best they usually work fast food jobs, Walmart, or day labor jobs, then many just give up because this is not rewarded behaviour, and accept the life of the homeless denizen because, even if they work those jobs, all they can expect is a cot and a meal at the end, not enough to have a place of their own. They are usually too young to be so hopeless and hope can be re-instilled in them through counseling and training—if they were given more that three meals a day and a communal roof over their heads whether they work these jobs or not. I believe these people want to be part of it all, they really want to have rich lives, but they need to be actively connected because they evidently aren‘t able to get into school by themselves.

Then there is the skilled or educated person who is just in-between. He or she is in between jobs, in between catastrophic divorces, in between beatings, in between arrests, in between hospitalizations. These are people that, if given a place to stay with meals and a shower, they can find a job, save up a couple of paychecks, and get back into productive society. These are the easiest cases to assist. They are a counselor’s dream.

Then there is the small minority who have just up and quit society and have told the world to go to hell. Every society has these, we used to call them hobos. They will always be with us. It is their choice and so be it.

What we have in the US is a hodge-podge of homeless shelters, some local government sponsored, some faith-based, some are run by private charities. Providing a night’s sleep, even with meals, will not put a dent in solving most of these people’s problems in order to get them back to being productive individuals. To ignore this fact shows the low level of seriousness one places on the problem of homelessness.

To do what I propose—to provide comprehensive medical treatment to those who need it, to provide both life skills and vocational skills to those who simply need to become self-respecting members of the work force, and to feed, clothe, and shelter this growing mass of individuals while these services are being provided would start with assessment centers where the homeless can go, or be brought to by police officers in lieu of jail, where the appropriate services would be determined by a multi-disciplinary staff of nurses, a doctor or two, and social workers. From there they would be referred to, or even transported to the appropriate site for the services they required.

But this approach is very expensive and America is unwilling to do it. However, if you add up all the homeless costs in shelter and jail recidivism, the man hours and services costs in our ERs and hospitals, our police and jails, in the crimes: theft and property damage committed by some of these people, and even the cost of homeless shelters themselves, it is becomes way more expensive the way we are handling it now. At least, with this more rational approach, assistance to the homeless becomes an investment, rather than charity.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

A long time I had to audit an nonprofit that had gotten a grant to assist the homeless and disadvantaged in this area. The homeless submitted a request for help and why they were asking and then had to provide receipts and so forth on their expenditures. That broke my heart and really shook me. This is the northeast and we have people living in tents in the winter.

seekingwolf's avatar


I guess it depends where you are but in my city, we have a HUGE drug problem and most homeless people here are either mentally ill and/or addicted to some form of drugs. I don’t know where you got the statistic from but it’s definitely not true for her and I would wager for most cities, it’s not. Even if they are just mentally ill, they need help.

Shelters are the best place for these people to go. They have people there who can give them information on getting into a halfway house or even being able to sign up for Medicaid, which can pay for a drug treatment/detox/whatnot. At the shelters in my city, you can’t have alcohol or drugs on you to stay there. They are much, much more than just “3 hots and a cot”.

I know how addicts are. Cold hard cash will always go toward the drugs or enabling them somehow to get drugs. That’s not a character flaw, that’s the truth of their disease, of their mental illness.

Even if they WANTED to get clean, your money wouldn’t help them into into a treatment facility anyway. They couldn’t afford it. They would need to contact local support groups and get information on how to obtain insurance, which could pay for those programs. They couldn’t afford psych treatment either with the $5 or so that you give them. They couldn’t afford an apartment, nice clothing for a job interview. The most that they could afford would be maybe a bus ticket and/or a little bite to eat.

It’s peanuts, really.

seekingwolf's avatar


I agree with what you have said. Yes, something needs to be done, something very comprehensive.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I found this but I don’t know what the percentages really mean. I guess it means the numbers are higher than I thought, but I don’t think you can just add the numbers together because some alcoholics probably use drugs also.

No matter what, I do think drug abuse is a huge problem among the homeless and in our country in general. That I don’t dispute. But, I don’t assume someone who is homeless is an addict or doesn’t want to work. It’s frustrating to me too that some people in society don’t work when they can, but the whole thing is very complicated and people are homeless for many different reasons.

I think it is great to donate time and money to shelters and places who try to help the homeless.

I look at @Cruiser story and it seems like the people he described are destined to be homeless, they are happy that way. What do we do with people like that? I have no idea. Maybe they can’t handle the stress of a typical life of working, paying bills, and interacting with society at large? I don’t know.

Coloma's avatar

@seekingwolf You are more than welcome to give/help in whatever way resonates with you the most, as I am.
If you can’t bring yourself to give a few bucks to a homeless person without feeling you are somehow enabling them, then just don’t.

seekingwolf's avatar


Alcohol is a drug too, so that should factor into the drug abuse statistics.
Even prescription opiate abuse…that should factor in too, even if they are getting it legally through a pain clinic. If they are abusing them because of addiction, that’s drug abuse.

Very, very, very few people are homeless because of choice or because they just “can’t find work”. It usually boils down to mental health or drug issues as to why these people are out there on the streets.. When I see a homeless person, I pretty much assume that they have some a) mental health issues and/or b) drug issues (including alcohol). And that statistics do support that.

I know I’m definitely not being “judge-y” assuming that, I’m just going by statistics.

If someone wants to be homeless and is happier than a pig in sh*t being out on the streets and can-collecting to get $$, then I say leave them be. It’s not a problem because that person would be sane but would be happy, so where’s the problem. But that would be like 1 out of 5,000,000 (or more!) out of all homeless people who feel that way.

josie's avatar

Grateful that I am not them. Assuming they do not like the situation.

jca's avatar

I would think to myself that there’s a large chance that this person is either mentally ill or a substance abuser. There’s some reason why they’re homeless. In the County I work in, services for the mentally ill, homeless and substance abusers are so plentiful that it would be hard to remain homeless if the person accessed services. Perhaps that opinion is not popular here but those are my feelings.

zenvelo's avatar

As a recovering alcoholic, I do not judge those who are not yet recovered. I do not put conditions on the handout I give, I give if I can.

I pray that if I give someone money that is spent on booze or drugs, that the resultant drink or dose is the one that causes them to bottom out.

kritiper's avatar

That they would omit the “God bless” part from their little cardboard signs!

Berserker's avatar

Sad and angry that we live in a society that is able to feed every person in it ten times over, yet this happens.

wildpotato's avatar

Like most other groups of people, it depends on the individual homeless person. Hippie drifter with a dog, a guitar, and a silly sign in the middle of a Las Vegas road-bridge? I think, “right on, brother” and keep walking. The mentally ill elderly man outside my subway stop every evening? I greet, give some change and walk off glad that he seems to be doing ok. If I didn’t see him I got worried. The guy who walks through the subway cars every day yelling really loudly about his rough time and sometimes pretending to be blind? I think “Shut up, shut up, fuck you, shut up, why are any of you suckers giving him money, shut up, shut up, shut up!,” keep my earbuds in and don’t make eye contact.

@Pachy That’s an interesting project your friend is doing. I’m sure it raises awareness in the area.

This is a project a friend of mine does.

gailcalled's avatar

There are no homeless people (or not for very long) in this sparsely populated area so it is an issue I don’t run into. I personally would give someone food only, no cash. The services in my county are similar to those @jca references…very plentiful.

I have a friend who works with the mentally ill and the addicted in NYC, and I give as much as I can to his organization because I heer about the very concrete results from him and read about them in the monthly newsletters and publications.

@JLeslie : The source you cite, which looks familiar, uses research done in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and was published in 2009….too long ago to have any validity today.

JLeslie's avatar

@seekingwolf I agree alcohol is a drug too, in fact I don’t like that we separate alcohol out as a society. The link I gave said, “38% of homeless people were dependent on alcohol and 26% abused other drugs.” So, does that mean we combine the two numbers? Some people use drugs and alcohol, so there is crossover and adding the two numbers is incorrect. I think the sentence is confusing.

@gailcalled I really don’t think 5 years ago is too long ago. My guess is @seekingwolf would have said the same about where she lives 5 years ago.

seekingwolf's avatar


To be honest, I don’t know if you can combine the 2 numbers or not. Not much to go on from what you said. My feeling is that if you looked at all homeless people in the US and took into account alcohol, drug, and Rx pill abuse, I really think the statistic would be 40–50+% are abusers of one or more of those things.

From what I’ve read, my city still has major issues with homelessness, but in the past 5 years, we’ve seen a MAJOR, MAJOR uptick in heroin abuse. Leading to many OD cases and addicts in our community. It’s very sad. I don’t know if it has made homelessness go up but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. It’s a nasty drug.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Most homeless shelters offer no real help, only a meal a day and a dry place to stay the night in before kicking them back out into the street the next day. I’ve seen many that only stay open during the winter months. Also many, if not most, are ran by church groups who then proselytize to those that come to them for help. If the modicum of help offered is conditioned upon being sermonized to then it is not help. I’ve actually had a homeless veteran flat-out refuse my offer of a ride to a shelter because of this and the fact that shelters infantilize those under their roof. He told me “I’d rather die in the cold and keep whatever dignity I have”.

When I see someone who is homeless I’ll give them whatever I have to give. No conditions. If they choose to spend that money on drugs or alcohol, if that’s what helps them though their day then so be it. I certainly know what it’s like to be dependent on a chemical substance and will not judge someone else for it.

antimatter's avatar

By the grace of God I am not like them…I feel always sorry for them but some of them is living like that out of choice. For them I don’t feel sorry at all. But there are a few who did not choose that life and it’s for them I feel pity. I have done some work in soup kitchens and to be honest that’s where you can see who have chosen to live like that and those who have not.

jca's avatar

The reason I don’t give them money is that I feel like supporting someone else’s habit can be a bottomless pit. The money just flows to the dealer or to the liquor store, and I have my own responsibilities as a single parent.

GloPro's avatar

Those of you saying you give cash without condition… Well, that seems kind of obvious unless you are sticking with them until they spend it. You do realize and acknowledge that bums are not welcome in grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores, etc? Even Wal-Mart will turn them back towards the door. Of course cash is king, but maybe other things would be just as helpful, if not more… My local bums are offered jackets in winter, belts, new pants, gloves, food and water. I would say there are several people that have formed friendships with the homeless, including myself.

I have bought a bum a bottle of liquor or beer, no problem. I understand that it helps them get by in their circumstances. I just don’t give money because it could be dangerous to pull out my cash in those circumstances and I find there are many ways to help that are equally appreciated and more easily utilized immediately than cash.

I don’t pretend to be interested in making a permanent change in their lives, so if they abuse drugs I consider that none of my concern. I’m not trying to save anyone, I’m just trying to make that one day a little easier.

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro I agree 100%. It’s not my job to try and change anyone, and if what I give makes their day a little brighter, that is all I am concerned about.

talljasperman's avatar

Afraid of being aggressively panhandled. When I was in a homeless shelter I left everyone alone and just went to sleep with my coat on. At 5:30am I took a cab to the hospital and tried to have myself committed. Instead my social worker found me an apartment for homeless people and I now have a one bedroom apartment and my own bathroom and kitchen.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

O Canada!
His home and native land!

I’m not sure you would have been so well looked after only a few miles south, Tj.

trailsillustrated's avatar

1st thought: I moved home to australia so I don’t see them anymore. 2nd thought: I was homeless in America and it’s not easy. Homeless shelters are full to the rafters and not at all easy to access. I have written of my experience here, previously.
3rd thought: There but for the grace of god go I. I always gave money to homeless (when it wasn’t me) and if they need a fix, whatever. It’s a sad situation. So glad go not be in it anymore. I never begged and was never on the streets, it took real wizardry to not be, but the experience will always be with me.

Paradox25's avatar

First thought: Wow, another person who didn’t ask to be born into this world who’s being punished for failing at the game of life in a very negative,competitive, dog eats dog world.

Second thought: Most of these people either have some type of mental illness, or really have hit hard times, and most of these people are men (the disposable sex).

Third thought: Most of these homeless people probably don’t have people in their lives who care about them either, but yet seem to be judged by those who were fortunate enough to have people in their own lives who care about them.

I will add a fourth thought too here. I don’t see too many homeless people in my neck of the woods because I live in a rural area, but yet I was homeless myself briefly. I have seen homeless people occasionally during brief trips to some larger areas though.

Adagio's avatar


GloPro's avatar

I stopped into a McDonalds for the first time in months on my way home from an open mic night tonight. There was a very smelly, very tattered woman reading a book/dozing in the corner, with bags around her feet. I asked the manager if she comes in often. He said she had come in for the past two nights around midnight and stayed for a couple of hours. This manager is a great guy that I see probably 6 times a year, as the only time I visit McDonalds is in the middle of the night after drinking…
Anyway, I paid for a $10 gift card and asked that he give it to her after I left. I have this thread to thank for being a little more aware today. Hopefully she gets another couple nights out of the cold for a minute out of it.

Cruiser's avatar

@GloPro Such a great move there young lady! I am going to make sure I always going to have a Mc D gift card in my pocket from now on!

Coloma's avatar

Another thing is, the homeless make people uncomfortable, brings up our own subconscious fears. Yesterday I was leaving a shopping zone in my area and while waiting to make a left turn I was right next to a guy pan handling on the island 3 feet from my window. It was a warm day and my window was down. Instead of avoiding eye contact and fidgeting around I smiled and said ” Having any luck?” He smiled back and said not much, and I flat out told him, “I’d be happy to help but I have no cash on me at this time.”

This was true, I literally had about 3 pennies in my wallet, using my ATM card all day.
I then just made small talk with him, told him I was on my way to take my car in for an AC servicing and to have a nice day. He was very nice back to me.
We have to treat people like equals bot some roadkill to avert our eyes from.

seekingwolf's avatar

I think the fear is very real. I get very uncomfortable when I am approached by any stranger in the city, even tall, good-looking ones in nice clothes who probably aren’t homeless. Most panhandlers barely get past the “Do you have-” part because my immediate reflex is “I’m-sorry-I-don’t-have-any-cash-on-me-sorry-gotta-go”.

My fear of getting mugged/assaulted/burglarized is a very, very real fear. I am not OCD but I do have traits and I get it from my mom, who has very bad OCD and is on medication for it. I take depression meds which curb my traits but I still have them. Her “obsession” is germs (funny, she works in healthcare too) while my “obsession” is crime.

I know I seem like an A-hole. I don’t think these people are scum or anything. I think they are likely very sick and need professional help. But I am very scared.

Coloma's avatar

@seekingwolf Well, personalty type and any personal anxiety issues would certainly lend itself to a particular outlook.
I am cautious but not paranoid and tend to take a friendly and direct approach with strangers.
Being discriminating is good, being extremely paranoid all the time is not.

GloPro's avatar

Looking potential attackers in the eye and making first contact has been proven to be a deterrent in being chosen as a victim. The likelihood of being attacked when they are aware you are able to identify them is much lower. Avoiding eye contact and pretending you don’t see someone is sometimes asking for trouble.

seekingwolf's avatar


See, I’ve heard opposite too though. That looking someone in the eye/in the face can be seen as a sign of aggression/opposition and may anger someone and may trigger an attack. Like an aggressive dog. Same thing with some humans.

The only time I’ve looked in the face of someone was a panhandler who I said “no-I-don’t-have-cash” to and I kept my eye on him as I walked away and I could see him hide behind a tree, watching me as I went to my car. I felt he was going to try something. So I stared at his face from 20 feet away so he knew that I saw him. He looked like he got so uncomfortable that he left and walked across the street and that’s when I got in my car and left.

My mom said that was a risky move but it felt right at the time. I didn’t trust him. I don’t trust anyone like that. They have many reasons to want to screw me over and I cant trust that they won’t.

GloPro's avatar

Well, it seems looking at him and initiating contact, even from 20 feet, proved to be a deterrent.

Staring is different than eye contact and a nod or a slight smile. Saying ‘Hi’ or ‘How’s it going?’ leaves the recipient with no doubt that you have seen and acknowledged them. If it feels aggressive instead of confident, it probably is. Pull back a bit. Avoidance, however, can only project negative… You’re either uncomfortable, distracted, not confident, or rude. All potential reasons for a perp to choose you for an attack.

seekingwolf's avatar

I don’t know. I don’t want to give them that wrong impression that I actually want to talk to them. I worry that it will make them think that I am vulnerable and they will attack.

Just more reasons why I don’t go anywhere in the city without someone with me and why I never go out at night at all anymore (even with someone with me).

Coloma's avatar

@seekingwolf I can certainly understand a healthy cautiousness, I’m not advocating inviting a homeless person home for lunch and a shower, but, when we let fear rule our lives we cease to live.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you don’t have some reality based fear, but, OTOH we DO tend to get back what we give. Acknowledging a homeless person and not treating them like they are invisible, or worse yet, disgusting and to be feared is also a valid point of reasoning.
I have always taken a bold approach to life and am the type that chats up strangers all the time.

I also took off on solo adventures traveling in foreign countries, walked to and from my hotel, went to night markets in asia, and took many solo cab rides around large, foreign cities without even one, remotely questionable experience.
I had a man in Taipei City Taiwan, ( larger than San Francisco ) lead me to a dumpling house for lunch, order for me, get me a table, all without speaking english and my Mandarin consisting of about 7 words.
I chewed betlenut with a cab driver, laughed, surpassed the language barriers and had a blast.

One cab driver became my buddy over about a 3 week period, and we would laugh and laugh, I was staying at the Sherwood that he pronounced the ” She-Wa”. I would get in his cab and say ” To the She-Wa!” lol
I partied with ex pats at a street bar in a remote little town in the mountains out of Hualien Taiwan. All great experiences that never would have happened if I was paranoid.
Life and people tends to deliver what we expect.

seekingwolf's avatar

I’ve actually traveled a great deal but haven’t gone solo, but liked those experiences that I did have. I’m more of a sight-seer/volunteer who goes home at the end of the day and sleeps and then gets up and does it again.

I don’t go to parties, meet people in bars, etc. I try not to go out at night if I can help it.

I don’t know if I would change my life though. Your life sounds like it was fun for you but I am not sure that I would feel the same if I had done the same.

Coloma's avatar

@seekingwolf I don’t go out much at night either, and lived on property forever and my wild party days are long gone. The biggest reason I don’t go out at night much is because of dodging deer and needing my beauty rest. haha

GloPro's avatar

Homeless people aren’t usually out at night, either, in my experience.

seekingwolf's avatar


The crack addicts are out at night the most often in my city. At least, that’s when you’d see most of them. Moving about and hitting up people for $$. One of them had a gun illegally and tried to shoot someone near a Rite Aid on the street I used to live on. That’s just sort of what happens at night though. Not going out at night is sort of a big deal at my age (24) as that’s when friends want to go out and I don’t so I stay home.

To be fair though, I don’t walk in the city during the day either. I use my car to get everywhere and I go to the gym to walk on a treadmill. Sad. I miss the countryside I grew up in. I didn’t have to deal with people like panhandlers and it was very calm and largely safe.

GloPro's avatar

I’ll admit there were a couple of times I was glad to have my rottie by my side.

wildpotato's avatar

Yeah I was just going to say, sounds like you need a dog, @seekingwolf. One that looks like a pooch people would not want to tangle with. I lived in a nice part of a high-crime city, and would not go to the iffy parts without my wolfy-looking dog by my side at any time of the day or night. She’s the sweetest thing in the world to people and heels nicely, but in bad neighborhoods I would let her off heel, encourage her to pull out in front a bit, and choke up on the leash so it looked like I was barely restraining her. Worked like a charm – most everyone would cross to the other side of the street or go around the parked cars just to avoid walking by us.

Coloma's avatar

@wildpotato Haha..I had a monster hound dog years ago, he was almost 100lbs. and very protective. Howled like a banshee.
He would strut out front and bristle up when strangers approached and they always crossed the street when we were coming down the road. He though WAS very protective and that dog would have been a force to reckon with had anyone every attempted to assault me.

He would lie in the entry way of my house at the time watching the street and I never locked the house up on summer nights, went off to shower, no worries with my big guy around.
RIP Ruckus.

gailcalled's avatar

@wildpotato: A friend showed up here with 140 lb. Beowolf several days ago. His head was the size of Frodo. No one would want to mess with him on a dark night, or any other time. He does eat a lot, however (and is the sweetest dog imaginable).

Coloma's avatar

Awww..I love Nefies, but they drool bucket fulls.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We had a Saint Bernard, 180 pounds of drool when she was young. But what a great dog.

gailcalled's avatar

@Coloma and @Adirondackwannabe: My friend has three of these; Beowolf was the smallest. I can’t imagine what it is like coming home to that gang every evening (never mind the food bills).

Coloma's avatar

Newfies..Newfoundlands..not Nefie.
@Adirondackwannabe Yes, we had a female St. Bernard named “Sheba” when I was a kid. Slobber to the 10th power but the sweetest dog ever. My mom would get mad because she would sprawl on the bamboo chaise furniture in our patio room. She took up the entire couch. haha
@gailcalled Jeez….might as well have house ponies. haha

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That dog once broke it’s chain and drove a piece of the chain deep into her neck. There’s lot’s of skin there but this was in deep. I’m elected to try to get this out. I’m thinking, she could take my arm off if she get’s upset. She was an absolute baby. Never even lifted her head, although I could tell it hurt.

GloPro's avatar

House ponies, hahaha. Oda gained 11 pounds in 2 weeks. I really hope he gets up to the expected 140, although I wouldn’t mind if he slowed down!

seekingwolf's avatar

I grew up with dogs in the country, but currently have none of my own. just cats, I wouldn’t want a dog living in an apartment.

But in the future, I’d love to have a couple dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors. I like cuddly breeds like Goldens, but I’d also have something like a German sheppard or something similar. I like how they look and they are great guard dogs. I’d love a dog with a fierce, scary bark and domineering appearance but is a total sweetheart to me. hey, as long as other people are scared of the dog, that’s all that matters

Darth_Algar's avatar


Body language communicates a lot. And to be honest, from what you’ve described here it sounds like you give off the body language of someone who’s timid and afraid. In other words, you sound like an easy mark, to be frank.

seekingwolf's avatar


I’m absolutely afraid. Timid, not really, but afraid, yes. When I am approached by a panhandler/strange person I don’t know, I say “No” loudly and actually physically run away from them. Yes, I actually run.

But yeah, if anyone mugged me, they’d have fun. I carry no valuables (phone would be bricked once I activated the remote lock, they couldn’t use it/sell it if they tried). wear no jewelry, wear no watches, and I have no cash. I certainly don’t want to be mugged but I want them to feel like fools if they tried. I would want them to feel frustrated when they find that they can’t use my things to buy drugs.

But yeah, I rarely go out anymore, so I guess that helps. Once I move out of this awful city, I won’t have to worry at all anymore. I never want to live in an urban environment again. I only came here because I was fresh out of college and don’t make much.

longgone's avatar

@seekingwolf Not to add to your fear…but are you sure you want potential muggers to feel frustrated…?

Maybe you should carry one of those portable alarms?

seekingwolf's avatar

What’s a portable alarm? Never heard of it.

I have a “panic” button on my keychain for my car, but I’m almost never near my car if I have to be in the city.

I definitely want to stay safe without paying $$ to these people.

jca's avatar

@seekingwolf: The way you describe yourself sounds almost a little too paranoid and fearful.

GloPro's avatar

“My fear of getting mugged/assaulted/burglarized is a very, very real fear. I am not OCD but I do have traits and I get it from my mom, who has very bad OCD and is on medication for it.”

@seekingwolf is aware that her fear is over the top. Not all fears are rational. She may not be looking for advice or criticism.

jca's avatar

@GloPro: It wouldn’t be the first time that someone on Fluther gave unsolicited advice, and it probably won’t be the last.

seekingwolf's avatar

I know it’s not rational. Sad thing is, I could be a lot worse. I’m on antidepressants which helps with anxiety. I work in a hospital (I’m around many mentally ill patients but I am not afraid because it’s at work and there are security guards if I need help), I do have some fun, I am functional, I went to college, etc.

So I know I’m not like those agoraphobic people who can’t leave home but I know that I appear cold or antisocial because I don’t know my neighbours, don’t go into the city, don’t go out at night, etc. It limits my social activities, I’ll admit, but I make do.

I don’t know if it’s something I want to fix. I’m a lot safer than many of my friends. I hear about close calls and scary situations. And hey, I’m not in danger.

GloPro's avatar

I just felt like mentioning that she probably knows after the 5th person, myself included, chimed in to tell her things she admitted she knew. It’s no fun to be the center of unsolicited pointing out of flaws. It was not a comment directed at any particular jelly.

jca's avatar

There’s another question today (asked about a month ago but revived today) where other members (including some here) chimed in on the OP with unsolicited advice.

GloPro's avatar

I fail to see your point unless it is a justification.

jca's avatar

@GloPro: It was you that did it on the other thread. I didn’t want to say it. That’s why I mentioned it here.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Solicited or not, you can’t really post something on a public forum and not expect others to comment on it. If you don’t want to “be the center of unsolicited pointing out of flaws” then, frankly, you should probably keep it to yourself.

Coloma's avatar

@jca Heh..but you said it anyway. haha
I think that when one can clearly see anothers issues, it is human nature to, not so much advise, but share what they observe. There is a big difference between sharing observations and perhaps knowledge that might benefit someone, opposed to taking a preachy, “let me tell you” approach. I agree with @Darth_Algar . If someone is going to seek opinions, well, then you will get them, good/bad/right/wrong or indifferent.

jca's avatar

@Coloma and @Darth_Algar: Exactly! Thank you.

GloPro's avatar

@jca Here’s some unsolicited advice: don’t be so passive aggressive. If it’s the revived thread I believe it to be then the entire OP was asking for advice and I actually got a private thanks for my answers from the author.
I still fail to see your point. I have no doubt you’ll express it to me, or at least give a vague response I cannot confirm or deny.
Seeking opinions is not the same as sharing details, @Coloma. I didn’t see @seekingwolf asking people about her irrational fear, only acknowledging it.

jca's avatar

@GloPro: My point was that you chastised me and others for something you did yourself. (I think that’s a pretty non-vague clarification).

Being thanked by the OP in the other thread is great, but beside the point.

longgone's avatar

@seekingwolf I’m talking about a keychain alarm. To be clear: I’m not saying you should change any of your habits. Whatever works for you, you’re not harming anybody.

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