FUNDRAISING? CROWDFUNDING? BEGGING?
Please indulge me while I quote myself. I once said, “If you’re rich it’s called fundraising, and if you’re poor it’s called begging.”
Someone invented another term: crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is asking lots of people for a small amounts of money. Isn’t that what panhandlers do?
I used to give money freely to panhandlers until The Toronto Sun exposed the Shaky Lady.
The Shaky Lady would sit on street corners, in downtown Toronto, wearing shabby clothes and shake. A lot of people, including myself, believed her to be down and out and gave her money. A Sun reporter exposed her as a fraud after seeing her get into an expensive car and discovering that she lived in an expensive home.
I discovered three fraudulent panhandlers only because I use public transit a lot:
“I lost my purse and need money for the Go Bus to get home to Hamilton.”
I first saw the young woman saying these words at the Yonge and Eglinton subway station. She seemed sincere and I gave her money. Several weeks later I saw her at the same subway station with the same story. I confronted her.
“Hey,” I said, “you had the same story several weeks ago in this same spot.”
She looked at me and gave me the guilty Oh shit! look, and quickly walked away.
I have seen her at several other subway stations with the same story. When she sees me, she walks away.
“There’s been a misunderstanding and my landlord locked me out of my apartment. I need money to pay rent.”
This was said by an older woman at the Broadview and Danforth subway station. I gave her some money. Again, several weeks later I saw her at the Ossignton and Bloor subway station saying the same story.
I confronted her and said, “Didn’t you have that same story several weeks ago at–”
But she turned and walked away. She, too, knows better than to ask me for money when she sees me on the subway.
“I just got out of the hospital and need money for food. Can you give me money for food?”
This woman wears a long black overcoat and walks with a cane. She also wears 43,000 pounds of makeup. I gave her money the first time I saw her at the North York subway station, but I felt that she was a fraud because of the makeup. She looks more like a model than a homeless person. I confronted her the second time I saw her at the North York subway station a few weeks later. Naturally she had the same story.
“You just got out of the hospital a few weeks ago,” I said. “And now you just got out again?”
“I was in the hospital a few weeks ago for something else,” she said. “I went back in and I just got out today after an operation on my knee.”
“I don’t believe you,” I said. “You are wearing too much makeup. You don’t look down-and-out. You look like a model. Why don’t you take the money you spend on makeup and buy food?”
Well she started yelling at me about how she could prove she was in the hospital if I would come with her and that she’s not a fraud and that she’s not a fraud and that she’s not a fraud. Now I’ll quote Shakespeare, “The lady doth protest too much.”
I have seen her at several subway stations throughout the city. I have also seen her on the street outside downtown grocery stores. Sometimes she has a cane, and sometimes she doesn’t. She looks away when she sees me.
Now I don’t give away my money so freely—if at all.
By the way, do you think William Shakespeare is rolling in his grave because he was quoted in the same blog as Gary Johnston?