Monday, March 1, 2010

The Panhandler Chronicles

The Panhandler Chronicles, Cont. & Finis

A funny series of posts over at NRO's Corner. Some crazy but true panhandler stories, at least one of which comes from Detroit, to which I must add:

I did my grad work in the mid 90s at Wayne State University in 'the D'. Great school, and great philosophy department, smack dab in the middle of Detroit. Around the campus, going peripatetic can get interesting. The philosophy department, at the time on the outskirts of campus, was located within walking distance of a couple of parking lots, and one parking structure. When I first arrived at Wayne, it didn't take me long to notice that the same group of four or five panhandlers were always around the area of 51 W. Warren and that all of them were always in the same spots up and down the road. They were never absentee. One in particular was invariably close to the Subway sandwich place, just next door. He had crutches and looked pathetic, and disheveled.

The department secretary was insistent that we not give money to any of these guys. She was adamantine. I wondered why, but only for a short time. One morning, after driving in about an hour earlier than usual, for a reason I cannot recall, I was lucky enough to find a space at the parking structure. It was just a bit after dawn, the dark not having quite fully lifted. As I walked down Warren, toward 51 West, I at first noticed that the five guys were not there. I remember thinking "Yeah. I don't need to run the gauntlet."

Just about that time, I saw a commotion, down the steet, beyond 51 West, in front of the Marwil bookstore, at the intersection of Cass and Warren. My eyesight back then being better than it is now, I was able to make out that it was the 4 or five panhandlers, and that they were running toward 51 West. The disheveled crutch guy had his two crutches one in each hand, raised in the air, and was racing, yes racing, to his spot near the Subway. Let me tell you, the man displayed some Barry Sanders moves. He made it to the spot between Subway and the office first. The others, after having lost, emitted some expletives and peeled off in various directions, each ending up at his normal spot. The secretary later told me that this happened frequently, and that there was in fact competition for prime spots amongst the beggars. The spot near the philosophy department was prime real estate. Philosophy and English major types are apparently soft touches, but so too are college students going out for lunch at Subway. The rough and tumble of competition I suppose.

Monday Madness: Victoria Gardens