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LANETTE:
 
Everybody ain't lucky. They don't seem to understand that you have to do what you have to do. As long as they ain't out here, robbing nobody's pocketbook, or, you know what I'm saying— hurting nobody to get their money!
 
I feel what I'm doing, I'm doing it to stay out of jail and out of trouble. That's trouble ... I got enough problems living out here on the streets, I don't need no more headaches. That's the way I see it.
 
..........

 
RICHARD W:
 
I believe, whatever a person does, as long as he ain't robbing and stealing and mugging and snatching the purse, and ain't selling no drugs, God bless him, to act in almighty Jesus' name.
 
 
NEEDCOM:
 
What have you been saying to people when you've been asking for money?
 
 
RICHARD W:
 
Well, I just ask if they'll help me with a small donation, I need some help, and they don't mind helping you. It's—you can look at an individual and tell when they need. And they can tell by ... They can see when a person is for real, or not for real.
 
Because, in my situation, I believe in the almighty Jesus. Ask and in his name it shall be given. I believe in asking somebody for something, instead of going out and selling drugs or robbing somebody. My Bible says, "Ask, and in His name it shall be given." And that's my philosophy.
 
..........

 
NEEDCOM:
 
Some people say panhandling hurts the cause of homelessness.
 
 
DONALD:
 
No, it helps it. Like I said, it's degrading, but it helps. It's honest, it's not caving in to nobody. Person ain't got a gun in their hand, trying to take from somebody. Asking for help—there's a difference. Panhandling helps the individual that's doing it to avoid getting into crimes.
 
..........

 
EASY:
 
Now if I can't get no money, and my stomach is hungry, you making me turn into an animal, man! You taking my humor, and my drive away from me!
 
It's not easy to panhandle, first of all. It's tough to be rejected, man. You know, some days, I come out here and I say, oh GOD. You gotta really psych yourself up to do this. And some days, like when I sit by myself, like yesterday, I say damn, I have to go from my house, and back to this again! It's sad. It's sad!
 
But I don't want to go to jail, I don't want to sell drugs. So what are you pushing me to do? What are you pushing me to do? Because of living situations, welfare don't pay rent, what are you pushing me to do? You don't have no job for me, that I can make a living by, so what are you pushing me to do? Sell drugs so you can house me, or do something CRAZY— 'cause I can't think, 'cause you ain't giving me no air, man! So look, this is what I do, I create my own f***ing air, that's what I do.
 
And you know what? As I'm sitting here talking about it, I got to do it. Because if I lose my air, I lose my soul. Every day hanging on, sitting by yourself, waiting 'til the next day. You don't know if you going to make it to the next day. You don't know but your heart tells you you're gonna make it. They can't strip me of my mind! Won't let nobody—nobody can strip me of my mind. I ain't going to rob you! I will ask you, my BROTHER, can you PLEASE?
 


 
Honesty vs. need?

 
Drugs

Jobs

Ignoring



Between the two, who would get your spare change?
"Catherine", a woman"William", a man

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All content copyright 1999, Cathy Davies.
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