Ryn: Tucson beggars need to get creative

The next time you hand over a buck to a beggar, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Good intentions, guilt or the need to be a saint aside, I’ll bet the beggar somehow hooked you.

The good ones always will, as they have perfected the act of begging to an art form.

Begging is not an easy sport. It once took me more than an hour to amass a dollar on the trash-strewn streets of New York.

A few Tucson panhandlers have got the art down pat, while others have a lot to learn.

Like the lady with the plastic gas can.

Begging rule number one is to not get too complicated. This woman was stopping customers outside the Tucson Place strip mall at Wetmore Road and First Avenue with a big long story about how she needed some money for gas.

Right away her story became circumspect and raised more questions than it answered.

Where was her car? Did she break down and just need gas or was something wrong with the transmission? Why was she scrounging for gas money anywhere but near a gas station? Where did she get the plastic gas can? If she indeed got gas money, could she safely transfer the gas from the gas can to the car without some type of explosive tragedy? My mind was reeling too heavy from all those inquiries to even think about digging in my purse. Thus, she didn’t get the buck.

The second rule is not to lie. Most folks honestly don’t care what the beggars do with the money. That’s on the panhandler’s head the moment the cash is passed.

But we won’t give it up if we think they’re lying. Folks who say they need food money as they beg in front of a liquor store, claim to need dog food but have no dog in sight or those who scour a strip mall with a gas can are prime suspects.

The brutally honest, on the other hand, will be prone to get the dollar, like the guy with the sign that screams: “Need a few bucks so I can go get drunk.”

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Signs that make you laugh make for very effective begging:
• Will take verbal abuse for $1
• Homeless man needs rich woman
• Will code HTML for change
• Wife was kidnapped, short 98 cents for ransom
• Family killed by ninjas, need money for karate lessons
Or the dude simply slumped by the building with a sign that pretty much makes money jump from your hand: “Betcha can’t hit me with a quarter.”

Other creative tactics are those that make you think, like the man hanging out on Prince Road near the Interstate overpass.

He was bedraggled, weary and melting in the heat, yet had a cardboard sign that hit a nerve. It read: “Smile, it’s not so bad.”

He got my dollar. Well, actually he got a dollar from the person in my car’s passenger seat since I didn’t have any small bills. But the guy got his money.

Those that exchange some type of services are also likely to get the buck. Fourth Avenue musicians, even when they are playing a trumpet, will often get some cash out of me since they are filling the air with song. If it’s a really crummy song, they’ll get my buck if they promise to stop playing.

Some services offered, however, will never get me to hand over cash. These include shoe shines with a grimy rag, sex with a grimy stranger or carrying my groceries to the car. I’m too worried they’ll run off with my bags. And please don’t even think of pulling out a bucket of dirty water to squigee my windshield, a panhandler practice that’s mired countless cars in New York but thankfully hasn’t hit the streets of Tucson.

Water is perhaps too dear a commodity. Either that, or the beggars are too busy with their gas cans.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and performer who has no luck with begging for money but once traded some artwork for a sandwich. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com



About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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19 Responses to Ryn: Tucson beggars need to get creative

  1. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! LOL funny! Yes, the guy outside the liquor store asking for money so he can buy a cheeseburger is always suspect. Very witty!

  2. Rynski says:

    Mornin Rad Max!
    Thanks for sharing the LOL. I remember once a guy saying he wanted money for “food” and I happened to have the rest of my take out, which I said he could have. He refused.
    In another scenario, a guy woke up on a NYC subway while I was eating egg salad on a  bagel and just STARED at me eating it. He got the other half.

  3. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    Yeah, the guy on the subway would have gotten my sandwich too. Just to get him to STOP staring! I hate that.

  4. leftfield says:

    When I was young, my friends and I used to panhandle occasionally.  I think we thought it was a very bohemian, “On-The-Road” thing to do, aside from being a way to generate some small change.  The most effective ruse was for the girls in the group to panhandle individually and approach men, claiming to need the money for “sanitary supplies”.   This almost always worked.  I think it is a variation on the theme of “pay me and I will go somewhere else and stop making you uncomfortable”.

    Myself, I often give money to panhandlers.  Because, there but for the grace of accident and opportunity go I. 

  5. azmouse says:

    I have to honestly say I generally don’t hook them up with money when they ask. Most around here are gonna use it to buy meth anyway, so I would feel guilty helping to supply them with that.

    I remember one bad day I was having, I came out of Walgreen’s on Grant and Swan and a guy asked me for money. I kinda went into a rant about how my husband just died and I was working three jobs trying to support myself and four kids (my three, plus one of my son’s friends, who I had legal custody of), and how I’m not about to help support a man!
    I stormed off so upset. The next day, I was at work (then I worked in that shopping center) and the guy stood up on the planter in front of the salon, pulled down his pants and took a pee, while waving at me and blowing me kisses. Once again, my charm had made me a buddy.

    Now, there’s a homeless man who lives on the bus stop bench at Golf Links and Kolb. I see him every time I drive by there. The other day I was in that area, ordering food. While I was waiting, I went outside to introduce myself to him, as I felt he was pretty much like a neighbor. He was very cool, and when we were done chatting, I offered him ten dollars. He wouldn’t take it. After allot of arguing, I finally convinced him to one of those newer, gold dollars. I was so grateful he finally let me give him money!

  6. Rynski says:

    AZMouse – between the guy peeing in the planter and the escape out the trailer window in a mini skirt to free yourself from SPAM casserole, you have the wildest stories! Let me know if you ever want to write a book (haha).
    Leftfield – Love the sanitary napkins approach. Yes, guys would definitely be uncomfortable enough to give the gals money to make them go away. Never thought of that one.
    To anyone else who cares (since this is an issue that has come up): this post went to the top of the heap because I had to fix two errors in it: an ugly line break and a typo in my e-mail address.

  7. azmouse says:

    I have done all I can to live a full and interesting life, and I bet you have to, Ryn.

    You aren’t the first person to bring up a book, and maybe I will someday so my kids could check it out. I think it couldn’t be made public till after I die, cause to much stuff in it would freak my kids out! LOL!
    Ya know, Ryn, someday I’ll have to tell you the story about when I ran away from home when I was fifteen, and lived in my boyfriend’s closet for a year. His parents never even knew I was there!

  8. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    Good Lord lady! I can’t believe you have such a nice disposition after all of your experiences. I’d carry a gun in my purse! Well…not my purse…you know what I mean. PS (I think we’re neighbors)

  9. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    For azmouse, somehow I got bumped off reply.

  10. Rynski says:

    I hope it was a walk-in closet, at least!
    Did he bring you bread and water?
    Yes, I must hear that one one day…e-mail it and I’ll turn it into a “young love” dating blog post….

  11. azmouse says:

    Morning Maxxie!
    I just laugh stuff off. Besides, people don’t scare me.

    You live around here? I live near Lakeside Park, actually…Golf Links, Camino Seco area. I really love it. I lived central for so long (Grant and Swan area) and it was crazy!! THAT’S why I’ve come across so many characters. It seems so quiet and peaceful over here, compared to over there.

  12. azmouse says:

    You got a deal, I will email that to you soon. But I think instead of a ‘young love’ story, it would be a ‘rebellious teen who’s parents had the nerve to tell her NO, so she left’ story. lol

    It wasn’t a walk-in closet, but one of the long, skinny kinds, and no bread and water, but I did just happen to come over to dinner almost every night.

  13. azmouse says:

    (Tried to reply to you, Ryn, but it didn’t work)

  14. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    Yup, G.links& pantano. Howdy neighbor! Seems like the reply thingy is discombobulated.

  15. azmouse says:

    Howdy to you too, neighbor! Gosh, I go to that Circle K right there almost every other day for one thing or another.

    You guys should walk Bear at Lakeside, if  you can keep him from eating all the other dogs! lol

  16. Rynski says:

    Yes, reply option seems broken. Also, BEAR is a SHE. SHE gets really mad if you call HER a HE. SHE almost bit my head off when I called HER a HE in Tucson Pets…

  17. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    Az-when bear was a puppy we used to take her to Jesse Owens. As she got older , I’m not sure why, she got very ‘protective’ of my daughter and I. She even chased off a black bear on Mt. Lemmon!  I posted the story on the old site. All she ever wants is love and her red ball-haha! Gotta run….

  18. RADC MAXIMUS says:

    Ha- Ha Rynski! Da Bear forgives you ’cause you made her a star. 🙂

  19. azmouse says:

    Shoot, I do remember Bear was a chick-a-dee.

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