General Question

deaddolly's avatar

What, in your experience/opinion is the best way to deter street people from approaching you to ask for money?

Asked by deaddolly (3406points) September 18th, 2008

Do you think just walking away helps, telling them no etc? What works? Body Language? My daughter’s in college in Chicago and the street people are everywhere intimidating the kids on their way to class. Thanks for your input!

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23 Answers

robmandu's avatar

Dress like you have less money than they do.

Talk to yourself. Loudly. With profanity. Gesticulate wildly.

Hire bodyguards. Or enlist an entourage.

Wear a sandwich board with deaddolly‘s avatar. ;-)

kevbo's avatar

Not saying this is the best route, but it’s different. I heard once about a guy who had a similar problem on a walking commute in Manhattan (I think). His solution was to always carry cheap cigarettes. After awhile, he got a reputation for being the cigarette guy and sort of got a pass.

robmandu's avatar

@kevbo, how’d that work? They’d ask for a fag and he’d give ‘em something cheap. So then they’d stay away from him?

Divalicious's avatar

You’re on the right track with body language and saying NO. Your daughter needs to mimic the mannerisms of native Chicagoans. Same purposeful stride, same facial expressions, etc.

I understand her dilemma perfectly. My daughter went to school in Chicago for a year. She isn’t the friendly sort and wasn’t bothered too much by beggars. She has the evil glare down pat, plus she threatened to kick some ass if they bothered her again.

deaddolly's avatar

Thanks, Divalicious! My daughter is not the friendly type either and does just stare at them and walk on…it’s me that worries. A kid just got robbed yesterday at mid-morning by a street person who had asked for a cig and then pulled out a gun.

Does everyone think a college located in the South Loop of Chicago has the a responsibilty to provide more security in and around the campus?

Snoopy's avatar

I lived in Chicago for 4 years. They can be intimidating. She will learn. I would tell her to first ignore the person, if practical…..and then to be firm, but polite in her “NO”. She will also learn to square her shoulders, not carry a purse and, in general, look like someone who is not to be f-ed w/. I did it and she can too…..

robmandu's avatar

@deaddolly, maybe not the college (unless they’re a legitimate police force with jurisdiction, not simple security)... but certainly the city cops in any case.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Growing up in SF, I learned early on the secret to avoiding unwanted confrontations with street folks. This is going to sound really heartless and awful, so please don’t judge me too much.. but the secret is to avoid eye contact, do NOT engage them in conversation, and to ignore them if they speak to you when you pass by.

I know that sounds super cold.. hopefully you guys know me well enough by now to know I’m not a heartless person. The truth is, it works. I haven’t lived in a big city in like 10 years, having spent most of that time in the South, where I picked up that friendliness to random strangers. So, some examples..

I was a teenager in SF, a homeless guy asked me for change, I felt bad and decided to treat him as a human being, and said, “Sorry, no.” He then got up and chased me down the block, no joke. It was a bit terrifying.

I visited SF a few years ago, and I’ve been trained out of avoiding eye contact and such.. Hooboy.. I offered to buy a homeless lady a piece of pizza because she was hungry, she seriously stood there and kept telling me she wanted Chinese food instead, which was like 3 times as expensive. I also got approached by a crazy lady at the bus station that I stupidly made eye contact with, and then had to listen to a super-crazy tale of paranoid woe.

Lastly, growing up in the city, I learned to cultivate an attitude of “don’t f*ck with me”, which is amazingly effective. I kind of wear it like a coat, I exude it… I’m not someone to mess with. I hear all these horror stories of people getting messed with on the streets, and somehow 99% of the time, I managed to avoid it.

PupnTaco's avatar

Steve Martin had three techniques:
1. Pee in your pants to get a big stain going and push a baby stroller full of garbage
2. Throw up on your money
3. Act like you’re so stupid you don’t understand when they ask, have them keep explaining it to you

augustlan's avatar

Aquire a very big boyfriend. Walk with him everywhere.

kevbo's avatar

@rob, I guess he basically got better treatment as a result, but I’m sure he bled cigarettes for a good while before getting to that point. I’m sure it was his path of least resistance.

bodyhead's avatar

This is an easy one. Whenever you see a street person, ask them if you can borrow a dollar because you’re a little short on money for smokes.

This isn’t what they expect and it’ll usually catch them off guard. Make sure it’s the first thing you say when you make eye contact even if they are saying something. Just blurt right over them that you need a dollar. If you’re in your car, you need a dollar to get a part for your car. If you’re walking you need a dollar for gas. Have a crazy story like they do if you’d like. The sky is the limit.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@bodyhead, that works, but not if you see the same people everyday on your way to school. I just tell them I don’t have any change, dont make eye contact, or pretend to be really preoccupied with something, like the cars next to you, the plane overhead, the squirrel in the road, or a phone conversation. or just look disturbed.

bodyhead's avatar

It actually works so well on the guys who hang around the Mapco that they don’t even ask me for money anymore. They just say hi.

These two guys in particular use to ask me for money every day then I use to ask them for money every day. Now neither of us ask each other for money on any day.

tWrex's avatar

I walk around with a black marker and when they ask for money I ask them where they got the cardboard, because I’m halfway to where you are.

basp's avatar

Don’t make eye contact and ignore them if they talk to you.
A lesson my sister learned downtown Chicago….don’t follow anyone into an alley even if they did steal your purse.

srtlhill's avatar

just my opinion I think the best way to deter the act of being surronded and people asking for your money is doing like that guy on the subway in the 80s start shooting. Now that was a deterent to the ole money shakedown. The gangs left that guy alone for awhile. Yea he was treated like a hero for standing up to those extortionist, I mean juviniles

tWrex's avatar

Oooooo… Pepper spray! I bet everyone around you will never ask for money again. Try it on friends and family that ask first, and see how they react. If it’s favorable, I’d continue down that road.

JackAdams's avatar

Whenever I am approached by panhandlers who ask for anything, I just turn to them with a puzzled expression on my face and say, “Je suis très désolé, mais je ne parle pas anglais.”

augustlan's avatar

@Jack: When I was 15 years old, some friends and I got stranded in New York City. We had to take a subway train to a very dangerous area at 3:00 AM to meet up with the brother of one of our group. When we left the station, we were surprised by the number of (very scary) people out on the streets at that time of night.We were 3 girls, and one guy…scared to death. As people on the streets took notice of us, began sauntering towards us, and talking in an intimidating way I began to speak French (the little bit I knew) in a loud excited voice to my friends. They quickly caught on, and began babbling nonsense back to me. Everyone backed off. We kept it up until we were safely at our destination.

JackAdams's avatar

Good for you! I’m glad you survived that episode.

A similar situation happened to some friends of mine, who were also visiting in a rough, New York City neighborhood.

Instead of speaking French, one of the girls shoved her hand inside her purse.

Another girl saw her do that, and said to her, “NO! You are NOT gonna shoot anybody! You promised!!!!!”

The dudes approaching them quickly backed off, the girls hailed a passing cab, got in, and sped away.

tWrex's avatar

Ah yes… The opportunistic criminal. A coward at best.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Wear an NRA hat. Works like a charm!

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