Broke-Ass Career: Panhandling

As the American job market continues to take a downward spiral, even “normal” people have taken to panhandling these days. The stereotype goes that if you are standing on a street corner, begging for money, you must be a drunk. This doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case today. Even people who are perfectly capable of getting a job, have turned to panhandling because let’s face it – if they are good at it, they can make a hell of a lot more money than by working at McDonald’s.

Tired of looking for a job? Why not take up a new career in panhandling and fulfill your prophecy as a true broke-ass. You could even make bank!

According to Michael S. Scott, the director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, says in his online article “Panhandling”:

“Estimates vary from a couple of dollars (U.S.) a day on the low end, to $20 to $50 a day in the mid-range, to about $300 a day on the high end. Women, especially those who have children with them, and panhandlers who appear to be disabled tend to receive more money. For this reason, some panhandlers pretend to be disabled and/or war veterans. Others use pets as a means of evoking sympathy from passersby. Panhandlers’ regular donors can account for up to half their receipts.”

Here are a few tips on how to make it or break it on the street corner:

Be honest

People feel inclined to help out someone who looks like they could really use a hand. The guy above looked pretty sincere, using his Starbucks Venti cup as his coin jar, and admitting he needed some weed and a strong coffee. The whole corporate look seemed to be working for him.

This guy here, on the other hand, looks pretty miserable. He doesn’t even give a shit if you call him an low-life idiot, he takes it as it comes. He probably gets off on abuse, and by the looks of him, his girlfriend will probably kick his ass if he doesn’t bring her back a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

 

Be Political

Americans can relate to political slogans. Make sure you are in a liberal city if you want to side with the Democrats. This guy was in Houston, which I’m not so sure is so liberal, but his satiric play on words probably made him a fortune. Blaming the system for not having a job nor a home makes other people feel sorry for you. Even if they are working a shitty job and are unhappy with our government, they will most likely throw down a buck or two to make them feel better about themselves.

 

Have a Sense of Humor

Making someone smile always seems to do the trick. I mean, look at this guy’s amazing sense of humor. He claims his wife isn’t even worth a whole dollar, so that pretty much means his life is worth about $20 at most. And, with that cute, homemade sign, he probably makes more than he’s worth on any given day!

The comical, “I don’t give a fuck” look seems to be pretty funny too. The girl below demonstrates that her humor must be worth more than any talent she possesses. I mean, she looks like a college drop-out, wears two different socks and chain smokes. She is so damn lazy she can’t bother filling out a job application, so she just sits her ass down on the street in Seattle and hopes her pathetic joke about karate makes her a few bucks. Does she really look like she can karate chop? Not in a million years, but hey – wouldn’t you give are a quarter for another pack of smokes at least?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of: 1) Panhandler in D.C.- http://prospect.org/ (via Sand Castle Matt), 2) Panhandler in Oceanside, CA - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Panhandler.jpg, 3) Panhandler in Houston -  http://www.examiner.com/legal-issues-in-houston/houston-road-warrior-panhandling, 4) http://hhopper.wordpress.com/tag/panhandler/, 5) Panhandler in Seattle -http://seattlest.com/2007/12/04/the_way_seattle.php

Share This Page

About the author

Heidi Smith - The Ultimate Scavenger

Originally from San Diego, Heidi migrated north to study journalism at SFSU and interned for the SF Bay Guardian writing music stuff. She later embarked on a study-abroad program in both Denmark and Holland, and basically never came home. For six long years, she froze her ass off in Oslo, Norway, pretending to be a viking princess, trying to figure out how to survive in the most expensive city in the world. The other two years were spent frolicking on the beach in Spain - sipping on sangria in between being tossed around Europe working as a stressed-out journalist. Heidi currently works at for a non-profit cultural exchange program, helping others experience life from a different perspective. She is thrilled to be back in SF, magnetizing the obscure, and scavenging the city for fun, free things to do.