Modern Day Street Urchins

Street CollectorOn any given day on my way home, if I take city streets I pass three to eight intersections with various people collecting money from the raised concrete medians and spreading out like ants among the cars at a red light. What else would you call these people collecting money for ambiguous or unknown “charities?” This man looks quite official compared to most of the urchins in Tampa, despite his ambiguous identification.

We are not talking about firemen with boots, nuns in full regalia, or a big Ronald McDonald. We know about Salvation Army standing outside Wal-mart at Christmas and the Girl Scouts selling their cookies. Those are established charities who have earned the trust and recognition of the public and do not (most of the time) approach you or attempt to overtly solicit your funds.

Almost all of these urchins’ actions convey that they think that merely wearing a button-down shirt and tie in the hot summer heat with a box or bucket gives them the right to incite guilt for not rolling down your window. Looking the other way doesn’t work — they will enter your line of sight. I have seen them walk up to cars with open windows and convertibles with the tops down and try to persuade the drivers.

Here are a few of the examples of charities and “beggars” I have witnessed:

  • middle-aged, overweight women dressed in traditional nursing outfits and no indication of who they are or what charity they represent
  • men wearing their Sunday best with boxes and coffee cans that say “Support Homeless Children of America”
  • a man who paces up and down the median three days a week with his Bible, talking as loudly as he can, and collecting money in a gift-wrapped box the other two days with no indication of his organization

Tampa is the only city I have seen this, and I’ve also asked around at work with the same response. Who are these people and who do they think they are?

Who are these people who give in and open their wallets for strangers holding a bucket with no guarantee of the destination of their cash? Anyone can get a nun/fireman/priest costume to pass off as official, anyway.

What is the city going to do about this? Do they have/need licenses to solicit money on public streets?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go out to Ehrlich and Dale Mabry with a t-shirt saying, “Support American College Students Short on Spending Money.”

  • Jerry

    ROFLOL!! You are “everyman” with this one, Jesse. Besides the annoyance factor, what kind of fool walks around in Tampa traffic? They must have a death wish. Don’t they know that Tampa drivers drive by ear rather than sight? Same with the people selling newspapers – I’d thing the newspapers’ lawyers would never let them do that. It may be a convenient way to buy a paper, but it’s also a pretty good way for a paper salesman to be financially set for life.

    Honduras is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere, and there is far less street begging here than in Tampa.

  • Jerry

    ROFLOL!! You are “everyman” with this one, Jesse. Besides the annoyance factor, what kind of fool walks around in Tampa traffic? They must have a death wish. Don’t they know that Tampa drivers drive by ear rather than sight? Same with the people selling newspapers – I’d thing the newspapers’ lawyers would never let them do that. It may be a convenient way to buy a paper, but it’s also a pretty good way for a paper salesman to be financially set for life.

    Honduras is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere, and there is far less street begging here than in Tampa.

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

    I AM everyman’s blogger. I call it like I see it and say what everyone is thinking.

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

    I AM everyman’s blogger. I call it like I see it and say what everyone is thinking.