New York City law describes what you're doing as panhandling. Do you call it panhandling, or do you use some other word?
I don't even call it panhandling. Sometimes I just sit there, Honey, and I don't even ask. And people give. I'm not the type of person that says, "Oh, give me, give me, give me."
Sometimes I'll just sit down with [Richard] and we'll just start talking. We'll just start talking. 'Cause him and me are more or less in the same age bracket, and we start talking about things that older people could relate to. Like the music, the way the things used to be. How now, the city is too lax with a lot things.

I don't describe it as panhandling or nothing! I describe it as help. That's society's word for it. I go back to the Bible ... when Jesus Christ was living, people were ASKING for help. And it's going to go on and go on until society decides to do something about the situation.

Now that's an example, right there, of a customer who won't give.
Nice leather jacket, he's in a hurry.
Didn't I say, "Good evening sir, how you doing today?" I got his back.
Did he make eye contact with you?
Yeah, I make eye contact with everybody who come here! But he ain't no regular customer. He still won't give a man—trying to help himself, trying to do something—spare a dime or a quarter. But I didn't ask him, I didn't ASK for nothing, and he still didn't give it. He don't respect me. He ain't got the courtesy like that.

New York City law describes what I just saw you do as panhandling. When you are talking about what you do, do you describe it as panhandling, or do you use some other word?
Panhandling is the name that society names it. But I don't think it's called panhandling, I think it's helping your brother out. You know? I don't even think it's charity, neither.
Because my style is, I want to make ... like "How you doing! Hey." I want to cheer you up, or whatever. Whatever little ... just to say "Hi." Some people don't say "Hi" in New York. You can come to [Greenwich] Village and do that without somebody saying "Ah, what's so good about this morning?" In the Bronx, you can't say good morning.

Who's the best panhandler you've met?



I'm the Best Panhandler

How You Present Yourself

If you were richer, would you give more to panhandlers?
Yes, I'd give more money.No, my giving wouldn't change.

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All content copyright 1999, Cathy Davies.
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