For most of you, I don’t need to explain that. But sometimes when I say it to people, they nod and agree and dismiss the statement. These are folks who have never been broke.
To them, being broke means not being able to buy name brand products or not buying new clothes. What I am talking about is broke like you might eat dirt just to fill the hole in your stomach. I mean jumping people’s fences to eat not ripe vegetables out of their gardens. I mean broke to where you lift a garbage lid in hopes of finding something that doesn’t stink so you don’t gag while forcing yourself to choke it down. I have been this broke.
I have also been $1.00 a day on food broke. I have stolen for food. I have cheated for food. I have dated 6 girls at the same time to get free food from them. They didn’t have to be cute, just generous.
I am not proud of the things I have done to fill the hole in my belly and to keep a warm place to sleep. I wasn’t proud while I was doing it and I am not proud while I type this out. Yeah, at the time I was talking shit to my guy friends about being a pimp or being a player. One girl was paying for my pager, another put gas in my car. Each girl knew I was playing around but each thought that they were my “Bottom Bitch”.
And that’s why it was cold. I still talk to some of those girls. They went on to have jobs and families. None of them really knew what I was doing to them – at least there is that. But I lost part of my soul back then. I work daily to get it back. It is a burden that I have to carry.
But for all the things I have done, I have never begged.
I don’t know why I could steal, but I couldn’t beg. Maybe I couldn’t look people in the face and take from them. I had to do it at night, with no one around.
I used to give money to beggars from time to time. I have noticed that I give less and less to beggars when they ask. Last week I saw a young, well, strong black man sitting next to the door of my local grocery store. He hit me up for money. I bit my tongue, squared up and kept walking. Then I sat in my car and watched him. He was able to work, but he wasn’t. He was begging. Maybe this was his hustle.
My time running the street, I have met a lot of homeless people and a lot of professional beggars. These are folks who just don’t want to work. Begging is their job. Sometimes I think that they are doing a service. The people who give them money feel good about themselves and it only cost a buck or so in spare change. There is an exchange of cash for services.
But this kid made me mad. He had potential. He could be doing anything. Why was he begging? Did he think that was the strongest hustle he had? Then I started to think about his strategy. He picked the store in town where a majority of the patrons are wealthy. The ones who aren’t white are immigrants. Now the wealthy Indians and Asians in my neighborhood do not give to beggars. Most of them work very hard. Hell, most of the people in my neighborhood work hard, and they aren’t the types to give up their money to someone because he asks for it or looks sad.
So, this was the best he could do. He put on his sad puppy face and tries to pull in some spare change on a side hustle. It was weak and sad. He had a better chance of pulling off a security con at the local mall. You know the one. “Hey, for $5 I’ll make sure no one messes with your car.”
People are more likely to give you something if you are willing to do something. You show people some motivation or good will; they will meet you half way. Begging is the lowest hustle I can think of. If that is the best you have got, then you might as well punch a time clock. It is the same thing, but at least you have your self-respect.
People may find this a bit harsh from me. This kid affected me emotionally. I see young people in my town begging all the time. Most of them are stoners, burnouts, lazy or generally pieces of human waste. There was something about this kid that made me notice him. There was something that ate away at my gut. Something that made me question who he was and what he was doing.
The point is this. You aren’t as cute as you think you are. No one is going to give you enough money to live on because you look sad. If you are going to try and pull off a con, you better set up shop where you can actually get over on your mark. Otherwise you are wasting time, wasting effort and wasting potential.