A Harmonic Convergence

via Daily Prompt: Theory

Word count: 452 / Reading time: 2 minutes or less

Thank you, Daily Post, for today’s serendipitous prompt.  I observed something yesterday that made me very angry.  Last night, I was already thinking of what I might write about that event today, and one of the words tumbling through those thoughts was “theory“.

Sadly, like many American cities, mine has a lot of homeless people.  During the day, any given street corner throughout Nashville and its several suburbs may feature one or more people holding up signs asking for money or selling “street papers” like The Contributor.  These papers are sold to homeless or formerly homeless individuals at cost; then, the individuals sell them for a set price, usually one or two dollars.

I am sympathetic toward people much less fortunate than I am, so when able, I contribute money or buy a paper and give a little extra.  I also try to make sure that I always have a care envelope on hand containing a $5 gift card to Wal-Mart, a $5 gift card to McDonald’s, and a current list of local care agencies with address & phone number because I prefer to donate that rather than cash.  I try to help, but I take steps to ensure the recipient can’t go out and spend my donation on drugs or alcohol.

So what I saw on my way to enjoy my daughter’s school strings symphony concert last night really got me riled up.  As I approached her school, there were two men I hadn’t seen there before standing at one of those street corners frequently occupied by people holding up signs asking for help.  But these guys weren’t standing, they were leaning and stumbling and appeared to be drunk.  When I got close enough to read their signs, this is how they read: “Need $ 4 Pizza N Beer” and “Too ugly to be ah prostitute”.  Reading those words, I became so outraged that I got lightheaded.  I thought to myself “What on earth are those men thinking?  Are they operating under a theory of radical honesty, or what? Do they not realize they’re damaging the cause of every other person in need standing at a corner holding up a sign?”

Poverty, homelessness, hunger, and addiction are bad.  Admitting addiction is good, a necessary step in the recovery process.  But telling people you’re going to spend the money they give you on alcohol?  That’s beyond bad.  That’s stupid and harmful.  Unfortunately, the general public already tends to view most panhandlers as lazy alcoholics or drug addicts.  People like the aforementioned men do their fellow sufferers a great disservice.

Am I wrong to think so harshly of those two men?  What do y’all think?  Please let me know in the comments below!

18 thoughts on “A Harmonic Convergence

  1. If I saw two men, with the signs you’ve described, I wouldn’t want to donate to their cause. Giving a gift card to McDonalds, however….. sounds like a good idea. They may have thought….that they were being creative and funny, maybe even honest. If it brings in some cash, guess …. it works for them! Anyway you look at it……it can’t be fun, having to stand on a street corner and ask people for money. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand your concerns, Denny, and I commend you for being proactive and carrying your “care cards” – what a great idea!
    I have volunteered at a shelter since 2015 helping the clients write resumes and other business documents. Over these 2 + years, I have seen such a variety of people. I am saddened that often a third of our population of 35 is children. In this particular shelter, people have to agree to routine tests for alcohol. They know that the cost of three meals a day, a warm place to sleep, and volunteer drivers that can take them to work or interviews is to be alcohol free.
    A large number of people I have run into are there due to poor health – sometimes mental health issues, but more likely physical health issues. Our health care system is not very kind to those with limited financial resources.
    I am inspired by your ‘care cards’ and plan to implement such a practice here. I also think that panhandling near a school building is inappropriate – especially with a beer message.
    Thanks for sharing your concerns. I am so happy you dropped by my site. BTW, I grew up in Nashville and still have lots of family there. 🙂 I live in the metro Detroit area now. Namaste.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the response, LuAnne. Before I became a father twice over, I used to volunteer through Hands On Nashville, an agency that connects volunteers with numerous charitable organizations. I served at the Nashville Rescue Mission once or twice a month, helped bag groceries for Nashville CARES, and did various other service projects. For the past several years, though, between work, husbanding, and parenting, I don’t have the time. However, now that my daughter is 12, I plan to start easing back into it with her at my side.

      I don’t know how long it’s been since you were in Nashville, but if it’s been 3 – 5 years, you would not believe the way this place has changed and grown!


      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean. I raised 4 kids and worked full time for years, but I am retired now and able to something I have wanted to do for a long time.
        I actually was in Nashville for the eclipse this summer. It has changed! I’ve been gone for 30 years now but go back often to see extended family. The part of town that has changed so much since I grew up there is East Nashville. What a happening place now!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved reading this as homelessness is an issue close to my heart. I don’t blame you for being aggitated by the two men and in all honesty I would have been too. Even if their signs where meant to be a joke like you said it will still deter people from helping the other less fortunate people out there who would highly benefit from your help and wouldn’t waste it.

    Take care and keep writing. I will be looking out for you on my feed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That would make me angry, as well. There are people in that same predicament that are just trying to survive. They are making a mockery of them by holding up that sign. This is why people are afraid to stop and help when they see someone on the street. This is what they are envisioning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That is very interesting. I saw several people holding signs like that the last time I visited Las Vegas. I was walking on the main boulevard among crowds of people. The sign-holders were as steadfastly ignored as were the many other people hawking their wares. There were also street evangelists preaching and handing out religious tracks. I thought it was strange that the preachers weren’t attending to the people who were holding up signs asking for help.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Okay, first of all, the care cards: what a genius idea! Seriously, more people should know about this.
    As an individual, I wouldn’t want my money to be going to alcohol. However, I remember I was doing youth engagement with Salvation Army and I remember being told that yes, they may spend it on alcohol, and why not? Why not enjoy themselves? However, if I’m giving any financial aid, I want to make sure it’s going on things that will help them as otherwise alcohol, in that sense, is self-medicating in the short-term and preventing reliance on self in the long-term. But it’s always been difficult to know where your money is going to, so giving care cards is an excellent idea because they can only use it for food. However, what if they decided to do a swap with their care card for alcohol? That’s a possibility. The contact card is a great idea so they can receive immediate help. Perhaps, we should all set aside a certain amount that could help a homeless person depending on the individuals capability and earning potential. Cards for volunteering places which could provide experience and employment may be useful as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The difficulty with swapping a care card for alcohol is this: The person receiving the card has little reason to expect that the card they’re being handed actually has any monetary value. When I give a care card to a needy person, even if they wonder whether or not it is worth anything, they will take it to the agency from which it was purchased to see if it is indeed worth something. But think about it: if you were a homeless person with nothing but a bottle of alcohol, and another homeless person approached you with nothing but a $5 gift card for McDonald’s or Wal-Mart, would you trust them enough to give up your booze?

      It’s an interminable and probably unsolvable problem, sadly enough. Where in this wonderful wide world are you? I assumed you were on the other side of the world from me.

      Take care, be well, and happy New Year!


      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s true, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It would be too risky to take a gamble on. Hats off to your logic! Where can I get these cards from or did you make it yourself? I want to try and set aside some money every month so I can do it too.

        I’m from the UK 🇬🇧 . I’m guessing you’re from the US since you’ve mentioned Wal-Mart.

        Thank you and happy New Year to you too! 😀


        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in Tennessee, the American South. Here, almost every retail store sells gift cards. They’re basically just burner credit cards. They look just like credit/debit cards. A consumer can walk in to McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, etc., and purchase a gift card in whatever amount they want. That way, if they shop at a particular store frequently, they don’t have to worry about carrying cash. Consequently, it has become commonplace here for people to give their loved ones gift cards at Christmastime or birthdays instead of giving thoughtful gifts. Which allows the recipient to go to their favorite stores and buy what they want. It just occurred to me a couple of years ago that gift cards are a much more loving way of helping the needy, who are very often not the best decision-makers, than giving cash they can them go spend on drugs or alcohol which, unfortunately, happens all too often among the impoverished and homeless here.




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