Every day I try to find a detour around the intersection of 9th Street South and 22nd Avenue. No, I’m not trying to avoid a red light (although I drive a stick, so if I can swing it, that’s a nice bonus, too); I’m trying to avoid the guy who comes to my car and begs.
It didn’t start out as begging. At first he would come to my car and offer a flyer for local happenings. But then he started asking for a donation for his offerings. Since I never took the stuff AND it’s free at the counter of any local convenience store, I’m pretty sure he’s just asking for a handout.
Before anyone starts quoting cheesy eighties songs I’d like to stress that I am doing my best to keep my head above water here… you know, just keep swimming and all that happy crap (actually, it is). I’m not refusing money while I drive by in a Beamer; if I give this guy money it means I don’t have money for food or pit bull attack vet bills. Seriously.
So here’s my question… is this legal? I know St. Pete has an ordinance against what they call “aggressive” panhandling. Is this what they consider aggressive?
Should this guy be allowed to beg at my car window while I’m stopped at a red light? I’m really curious; sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten so jaded that I make big deals out of little deals.
I’d like to add that this guy seems like a reasonably sentient being and it seems that anyone who has the stamina to stand on a street corner and converse with passersby and drivers could easily hold some sort of job. He’s not ill groomed- better than me on many a day- and I don’t understand why he needs to beg when the St. Pete Times has basically legalized begging with their street corner salespeople. Yes, I know there are dozens of reasons people beg for money, but this guy doesn’t seem to fit the bill of someone who cannot hold a job; rather, he seems like someone who is choosing not to.