The happy (and generous) panhandler

Stop me if you’ve already had this experience.

You’re leaving the Break Time at Providence and Ash, and you’re approached by someone asking for money.

Don’t stop me yet.

“I’m not homeless and I’m not a bum,” he says, meeting me in the middle of the parking lot after I waved off his offer to join him at the corner of the building, just out of the light.

I think he wanted to hug me. He called me “brotha.” We did a bro-love sort of handshake, a quasi hug.

“You got a couple dollars? Really, a dollar-twenty is all I need.”

“No cash,” I answered. “Sorry.”

“You got a credit card then,” he persisted. “And I won’t lie to ya. I need some papers so I can roll one.”

I stared and blinked, like someone who would stare and blink at a panhandler who admitted he was getting ready to consume cannabas.

“C’mon, brotha. I’ll hook ya up.”

“Excuse me?” I go from staring to asking. I tried to convey an incredulous tone (can a tone be ‘incredulous?’), but my new BFF mistook my curiousity for keen interest.

“That’s right,” he said. “I’ll give you one. I just need a dollar-twenty for papers.” He caught my eye and let me know he wasn’t a bad person. “I ain’t gonna lie to ya. I need me a smoke. I got good stuff.” He repeated the offer to give me a joint just for the trouble of my $1.20 donation to his joint-rolling fund.

I waved him off and walked away, thinking for a moment that it would have been cool to walk around with a joint in my pocket. You know, I would have felt more like a CoMo-ite, all progressive and toting a toke. I could have induced heart attacks in many of my conservative friends. That would have been kinda fun.

Then I snapped back to reality with the picture of me calling Kelly to tell her I’d been arrested for possession. My mug shot in the Tribune, probably right next to a story that carried my byline. (Probably my last Tribune byline).

I’m not sure if the happy, generous panhandler found any takers for his offer. My money is on “yes.” I’d bet $1.20.

1 Comment

Filed under A reporter's life

One response to “The happy (and generous) panhandler

  1. Sharon Assel

    Good thing you didn’t take one of his joints to tote around–it’s probably not a far jump from toting to toking!

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