Learn Empathy For The Homeless: Give Them Cigarettes

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.

cigaretteIt’s time for some out of the box thinking.

I performed a very informal study to discover a way the average person could engage homeless persons in the hope of fostering empathy for these citizens, their lifestyles and outlook.

Most of us are removed from direct interaction with the homeless. The closest approach is perhaps to give them money and to then walk away, with little more than a greeting and a thank-you being the entire discourse. Our time among them is momentary and relegated to simply a transaction initiated and dismissed by each side with expediency.

I discovered cigarettes can change it all. Now, we can have a dialogue.


A fallacy most fall into is advocating for the homeless by “slacktivist” measures, that is, devoting perhaps 100 keystrokes to sound off demands that more be done for the homeless. This is of course while they slack off using their smartphone while watching a football game. Or too often they subscribe to the belief that making a ten dollar donation to the local soup kitchen via Pay-Pal provides the street-cred that one knows and sympathizes with the plight of homeless persons. While the kitchen can always use the money, No, neither that nor a pathetic politician serving food at a Salvation Army kitchen for a photo-op on the campaign trail is going to absolve a person of having ignored the homeless, pretending to know their situation and difficulties.

It is interaction that is lacking. Most people never talk to homeless persons on an interpersonal level, and most homeless people believe there is little chance of being heard as they are accustomed to being dismissed so readily.

A less mentioned aspect of giving alms to the unfortunate, especially the homeless, is that most of the emphasis for aiding these people is limited to items such as food, shelter, and warm clothing–basic survival needs. Programs to provide these, alcohol rehabs, shelters, etc. serve a need but a fundamental benefit is absent. Has anyone really considered that the need for Happiness and Friendship should be offered in the mix?

Our society, as a matter of policy, only attempts to meet the physiological needs and half-heartedly the Safety needs of the homeless. It greatly lacks Love and Belonging and especially fails in fostering a sense of Esteem in the hearts of those on the streets. A reason for this is because the average person, as I mentioned, is removed from the homeless and collectively this results in a schism between the two. Each is a faceless abstraction of the other.

And this is where the cigarettes come in.

Cigarettes for the homeless? No, I am not upsetting a nebulous claim that we are poisoning the lungs of people who are down and out. Here is a little secret most homeless people smoke.

Homeless people have little money (obviously). In states having high cigarette taxation the nicotine habit is disproportionately costly: demanding such a large proportion of the homeless person’s wallet, forcing them to somehow mitigate these demands. It is either smokes or other needs, since money is usually low. Sadly, mitigating these costs reduces many to beg for cigarettes or worse to sift through ash cans or find on the ground recently discarded cigarettes. Now which is a worse health situation for the homeless, giving out new cigarettes knowing that the homeless are going to smoke anyway, or consigning them to second hand cigarettes having untold pathogens from being on the ground? This is not a heartless characterization of the homeless, it is instead the reality on the street.

I first started my experiment by purchasing a few packs of cigarettes and ambling about one night downtown. I have noticed from past experience that giving spare change to a homeless person is always met with a thank you, but that is often the extent of it. When I came upon homeless persons who appeared to be looking for a cigarette I gave them one of mine along with a light. Most of the time, there was the Thank You yet there tended to be more interaction offered by the homeless person than was the case with small change.

I suspected that the reason for the greater affording of interaction stemmed from the fact that a cigarette is more of a token of happiness while the spare change was simply just providing for a need. It is important to recognize that these folks often have little material joys in their lives so items such as new cigarettes are prizes in many cases.

An adjunct to my observations was where I would stand on the sidewalk, holding a cigarette, and see what would come of this. I observed where some homeless individuals would just simply ask for one, but many would reach into their pocket and offer to buy a cigarette for whatever change they had in their pocket. Two offered as much as a dollar. I declined their offer of money, but instead gave them a cigarette without payment. This resulted in most being very pleased and offered conversation.

After seeing only a bit more interaction offered in just one cigarette I decided to increase the cigarette alms to three or four at a time. That proved to be a game changer.

Without one exception, when a homeless person either requested or was offered a cigarette and instead three or four were provided, it shattered the invisible wall between the homeless person and me. The act of giving several cigarettes at a time was very surprising to them and it was always met with a smile and greater thanks. But most importantly, the homeless person became very engaged with me and rather than taking the single cigarette and leaving, they instead wanted to strike up a conversation and seemed genuinely pleased that someone cared enough to offer them more.

In the multiple cigarette scenario the homeless person truly opened up for conversation. Surely someone could otherwise approach a homeless person and try to engage them in conversation out of the blue, but my experience with this is that sometimes they become defensive when strangers start unexpectedly talking to them, which in many cases is the same with all peoples. But in my experiment I would often have conversations lasting ten or more minutes talking about whatever topic we wanted. I recommend avoiding conversations about homelessness, for it will bring the wall back up. Just be a listener, tell jokes, and enjoy each other’s company: like you would any other friend.

Again these people have so little in their lives, being given three cigarettes by a stranger might be the best thing to happen that day–not to mention a showing that someone cares for them.

But whatever amount the cigarette alms are bestowed, you learn empathy through dialogue. Talk with them. Learn what each of them are about. It doesn’t need to be a profound conversation about life or homelessness or political topics, in fact I would stay away form that. Let the homeless person take the initiative and simply listen to what they have to say. Too often they are ignored and seldom do they have a chance, at least in their belief, for their words to matter to someone else and that they are respected.

I guarantee you the conversation will be different in many aspects of the white picket fence lifestyle we know, but you will also find just how similar we are and differ only in situation. Do not be condescending or talk down to them. Many will be mentally ill or intoxicated. If you converse in the same intonation and manner as you talk to your neighbor or friend you will show respect for the other person, placing each other on equal footing. Also, I would not use this approach when there are many others around, since it would interrupt the one-on-one conversation the two of you need.

By having ordinary conversation with individual homeless persons on several occasions your empathy for them and their plight will become greater and genuine. Homeless persons will no longer be abstractions, faceless political causes, or someone to be dismissed. Understand these conversations you can expect shall involve topics that are not always going to be rosy. There are myriads of personalities you will encounter, but you will benefit by enlarging your understanding of others.

By Darren Smith

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

73 thoughts on “Learn Empathy For The Homeless: Give Them Cigarettes”

  1. C-niz,

    The oligarchy is full of people who have had every advantage this society gives and look what they have done with that advantage. We’re on the verge of war w/Russia. We have a police state. Many people can’t get a living wage, health care etc. The planet is being polluted to bits. And so on.

    This isn’t a record to be proud of. It should make any person ashamed. Yet the oligarchy thinks they are both fabulous and deserving of power. If it were me, I wouldn’t be working for people like that. I’d be working for me fellow citizens and this earth.

    1. The blog should heed this advice. It’s like a smoker… and like the US empire it adores… slow but sure decay.

  2. The contempt for people who don’t have money or don’t have a ton of it is absolute in the oligarchy. We should not support these people as “leaders” in any part of our society. We need people to have real intellect, real compassion with real courage. Those people are not found in this worthless group of people who feel entitled to run our society. The run it into the ground. Time to reject them, turn away from their “guidance” and stand up for what will make our society a good one-caring about others, caring about the earth, return of the rule of law and wanting a good world for everyone.

    1. If you want that type of society, aren’t you repulsed by this blog?

      This blog invariably looks down at classes of people with less money and or status than them (look at the top picture or almost any post). The paternilism in posts about “reform” or the sad state of affairs is nauseating.

      Haha I don’t need d smith to tell me to have empathy for homeless people – it’s called living (and d smith was a cop, he’s full of it here for sure).

      1. Chip –

        I want a type of society that helps the poor/disabled/less-fortunate. But, I am NOT repulsed by this blog. This blog and most of its readers/respondents (except you ?) represent me.

        I worked/slaved/saved and denied myself all my life. I have more because I did not smoke, drink, snort, piss, or gamble what little I made away. I gave what I could to charities, churches, and others. And, I will NOT be somehow shamed into believing that just because I have something to show for my life, I am somehow lacking in empathy for those who c/would not exercise as much self-restraint as I did.

        Jesus is quoted in the Bible: “The poor you will always have with you”; “You will always have the poor among you”; The poor you will always have with you” – Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8, et. al.

        I say: Don’t give the homeless one cigarette Give them a whole case!

        1. SkaterDude – if you give them a case of cigarettes the tobacco will go stale before they smoke them all. 😉

  3. Here’s some empathy via Clinton:

    Hillary Calls Her Own Supporters A “Bucket Of Losers”
    Before Hillary Clinton derided one-quarter of Americans as a “basket of deplorables,” she smeared other Americans as a “bucket of losers.”
    No wonder she didn’t want her Wall Street speeches released.
    Transcripts of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers were dumped by Wikileaks on Friday and in at least one, she showed more contempt for average Americans.

    Goldman Sachs Transcripts: Hillary Calls Left “Bucket of Losers” – http://impiousdigest.com/goldman-sachs-transcripts-hillary-calls-left-bucket-of-losers/ … – Thank you Wikileaks!
    6:52 PM – 7 Oct 2016
    99 99 Retweets 62 62 likes
    Analyzing the political climate in the run up to the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton theorized there was room for a potential third-party candidate of the Republicans nominated a weak one.
    “What we see on the left is way more disconcerting,” Clinton supposedly told Goldman Sachs bankers in 2014.
    “The early data suggests that while the minority base is probably still dominated by the Democratic messaging, a coalition of sub altern interests is forming that could, with an extremely weak Republican nominee, create and aperture for either a 3rd party victory or, in essence an election inflection point where an insurgent candidate could actually co-opt — take over — a major party,” Clinton said.
    “This coalition, a collection of generally under-represented, low social capital individuals has become increasingly networked and increasingly motivated.
    “This group that our analysts are calling the ((Makes air quotes)) bucket of losers could not only be a significant force in the next election but could, on an outside percentile, even win.”

    O.K. so her special class of wonderful, delightful a-wholes screws up the entire world economy, bails itself out with the losers (our) money and then they call us losers? Really? I don’t remember supporting their policies of war, impoverishment of the masses through austerity and theft of public funds, torture, murder and ruining the earth. I think it was those oligarchy losers who have been doing all those things. They are without honor, compassion and even an ounce of altruism, In my book, that makes them losers as human beings. The rest of us and this planet are the losses that result from their cruelty.

    Also, look at the contempt for the “minority base”! Disgusting!

  4. I would instruct said homeless people not to trust mr. Smith, he’s clearly an enemy of the poor. Just look at the top of this blog, those men did not want poor folk to have a say in our “republic”

    Don’t trust a cop… it’s not that hard to understand.

    Mr. smith, drop the act, you worked and served the wealthy for how long??

  5. Nick, excellent observations. I too have such a friend, in my case from childhood, who developed severe problems in his 20’s. Also very generous and kind to others. As Autumn says, every person has a different story.

  6. So I am sitting here glued to my laptop as Hurricane Matthew brings us rain, flooding and strong winds. I am grateful that the electricity is still on. The roof has a tiny leak – fortunately I discovered it before my art was ruined. My heart goes out to Haiti – definitely going to donate to Doctors without Borders. So much in life is chance – I am lucky to have good parents who emphasized compassion and relationships , the opportunity to attend excellent Department of Defense schools and go on to college. Saw a show the other day about the Congo. Similar to Haiti they suffer so greatly. Geography makes a big difference.

  7. Nick, I did not know you are a PI – must be an interesting profession. I imagine you have lots of stories =)

  8. Nick re: “The people who try and lump the homeless all together are by definition, biased.” Good point. It’s like a perverse form of identity politics =) Every person has their own story.

    1. Autumn, Being a PI is a fascinating job. There are drawbacks. You are often the conveyor of bad news, and people tend to get angry @ the messenger. I learn from my experiences. When I was just 12 years old I umpired men’s softball games. I was a diamond rat as a kid, always hanging out at the fields. This retired Marine Sgt. groomed me to work the bases w/ him. He called balls and strikes, I had 1st and 2nd. Most players saw a 12 year old kid who knew the game and was pretty good. But, there were always a-holes who would give me crap. The Sgt. let me handle myself until a player got too nasty, then he ended the conflict SWIFTLY. I would become a baseball coach later in life[for 30 years]. I would never get on an ump unless he was not hustling and trying to get into position to make a call. But, if an ump made a bad call, all I would say is, “You missed that one, sir.”

      Another drawback is seeing things in people you wish you didn’t. For the most part, people stand naked in front of me. I wish I could turn it off, but it is simply ingrained in me after decades. My ability to read people has literally saved my life. But, I need those skills little now. However, in reading the many homeless people I engage in Madison and San Diego, it comes in handy. A commenter who said homeless don’t want food is simply wrong. My bride and I always get utensils when I have leftovers to go. And, we seek out homeless people to give the leftovers. The response is virtually always thankful. Sometimes a perfunctory “Thanks” but more often a genuine thanks.

      If I were to attach one characteristic to homeless, many have mental health issues. The Mike I spoke about earlier has the aforementioned addiction problems that he works hard controlling. But he is horribly OCD and almost certainly bipolar. Mike gets stuck in loops during conversations. You simply have to prompt him to move to something else and he responds appropriately.

  9. The people who try and lump the homeless all together are by definition, biased. I’m a PI, I can pick out the hustlers quickly. They do not define the homeless. They are certainly part of the group, but not even a majority.

  10. Great post. I have a homeless friend in Madison, his name is Mike. He grew up in Chicago and has a good family structure. Mike is a smoker. But, I’ve seen whenever he has cigs he will give some to fellow homeless. Mike is the same way w/ food. I will buy him breakfast or lunch and he’ll always save some and give it to a homeless friend. Mike has a good heart. He has battled addiction issues and has been clean and sober for some time. Along w/ substance abuse, Mike battled a gambling addiction. He is a HUGE Cub and Bear fan. We talk sports and Mike is always well aware of the point spreads. Mike talks openly about his addictions and credits the bible for his success battling them. He never preaches, just gives the bible a shout out once in awhile.

    While I still buy Mike meals, a year or so ago I started buying Mike a pack of cigs every time I see him. Mike is so grateful. And, as I stand on the sidewalk talking w/ him, he’ll always hand out cigs to fellow homeless. I love Mike.

  11. In Nassau Bahamas, a guy came up and wanted money for his dinner that night. Well, there was a restaurant nearby and my friend and I insisted on providing him with the meal of his choice. Something about his digestive system and restaurant food came up, we were to give him the money to buy what he needed, we said sure, let us take you to the grocery store. Nope, nobody nearby had what he could tolerate. Finally, he flipped us off.

    In a bunch of other locales, we had people knock on doors until the churches gathered a database. Turns out we had been subsidizing a homeless tourist industry. The real needy readily accepted public/church shelter. Then there are those who need motel money for several nights as they were waiting for money from a friend, an uncle, a sibling or parent. Never did have luck contacting more than one.

    In giving out over $10,000 of several yrs, only ever received one, just one, call of thanks.

    Nope, don’t provide any assistance except through the organized charities who are diligent.

    If hit up by a “vet” I always ask for their VA CARD, then I ask why they aren’t in the system as nationally there is a drive to get all vets off the streets.

    1. “In Nassau Bahamas, a guy came up and wanted money for his dinner that night.”

      That was me. I do this all the time; the success rate is around 72%. White people are weird this way.

      Sorry I didn’t call.

    2. Some of the homeless have addiction issues — if a person smells of alcohol or appears to be on drugs they are not allowed in the shelter – not even to eat a meal. I used to never carry cash but now I do. I always give a few bucks to females – and trust me these folks are not running a scam – many have missing teeth, gnarly hair and I suspect have some kind of mental illness. If I’m around a store I will buy a sandwich and give it away – more and more people are appearing in the suburbs. A friend of mine did a backpack project this summer – buying several and filling them with water, snacks, sanitary wipes and a bible.

      I cannot imagine what it would be like to be homeless – I am grateful for family and friends and try to pay it forward. Small acts of kindness go a long way.

      1. I like the backpack idea, it gives them a way to carry what few belongings they have to keep them safe. I do wonder about the bible though; these were for starting trash barrel fires for keeping them warm when it gets cold, right? Usually the paper bibles are printed on ignites fairly well since it is thin and has little filler or coating, but don’t burn long since they have little real substance, kind of like the bible itself. I would have preferred the money spent on the bibles was used more wisely to increase the nutritional content of the supplies.

        1. ” I do wonder about the bible though; these were for starting trash barrel fires for keeping them warm when it gets cold, right? ”

          There is a homeless man at a nearby church who had been living drunk and homeless under bridges. His speech is slurred by the damage alcohol did to his brain; he has quite a few teeth mussing. He was given a Bible at some point and found hope that he could change his life despite the terrible things he had done in his life (lost family, friends, his job due to alcohol). He is off the streets, sober, and actively helps in his church and reaches out to other homeless. If it helped this man change his life and try to be a better person then that Bible is priceless.

  12. You might consider the same experiment and share a pint of cheap wine. Conversation might be better. 🙂

    1. Ignore the troll, Paul. Looks like it might be Free Computer Friday at the institution for HW. He’s excited to be typing and not having to make ashtrays and potholders.

  13. True story. I received a telephone call the other week from a woman, seeking assistance, who was desperate–yes, DESPERATE–to retain someone–anyone–to convince the judge, in a particular court, to lower her incarcerated boyfriend’s bond amount. Ya see, he had all sorts of nasty charges pending against him. Anyway, I explained that I was not licensed to practice in the adjacent state, in which he was currently incarcerated, but she was insistent. He needed to be released, and, released immediately. Why, you ask? What could possibly be so urgent and pressing? Well, get this–she, along with her now-incarcerated-boyfriend, are homeless–jumping from one inexpensive motel to another–yet, like many of the disheveled and downcast homeless, they pose, at the end of highway off-ramps, dressed in ragged, dirty and tattered clothing, meekly holding cardboard signs imploring the motorists to give what they can so that they can eat. She wanted her boyfriend out of jail, immediately, so that he could, again, be with her, on those highway off-ramps, due to the loss of income created by his absence. Any guess as to the amount that she claimed, emphatically, that EACH of these downtrodden and forlorn peasants averaged on a TYPICAL day? Go ahead. Guess. I was floored. She advised me, in no uncertain terms, that each cleared, on the AVERAGE, approximately $300 on any given day. Yep. You read that correctly. $300 each. $600 per day for the couple. The purpose of this story? Things aren’t always what they appear, Darren. If it soothes your conscience to share cigarettes with the homeless, go right ahead.

    1. “I received a telephone call the other week from a woman, seeking assistance, who was desperate–yes, DESPERATE–to retain someone–anyone–to convince the judge, in a particular court, to lower her incarcerated boyfriend’s bond amount.”

      Why did she call you? Are you known for lending to strangers at usury amounts?

      Wow, what a story! And so obviously true.

      1. Learn to read. It’s fundamental. Yes, it is true. The person contacting me was seeking assistance, yet, if one is capable of reading my entire comment–which, in your case, appears improbable–the “assistance” being sought had nothing to do with having anyone loan her any funds. She had plenty of money. Read the comment. She was, instead, seeking “assistance” in the form of “legal” assistance. She wanted the bond lowered with regard to her boyfriend’s cases. She was more than happy to spend the money to retain someone to assist in that goal.

        Yes, reading is fundamental.

            1. You should be more explicit in your writing, bam. Though I’ve read your self-serving tirades for some time you should know your ‘story’ has few details of the ‘assistance’ you were asked to perform. It is all a setup for your ‘story’ in which you were the holder of the eternal flame of righteousness as the bulk of your words exhibit.

              The world would be lost without you and your assistance, I’m sure.

              As for PS, he’s a big boy; I’m sure he’ll come back with many citations pointing out the error of my ways.

              1. I don’t know bam bam, but knew immediately what kind of assistance the women was looking for, it’s called context. Let me explain it for you; you read a sentence and from the other words and situation described with the words one can determine the meaning of unfamiliar words, in this case your unfamiliar word is assistance.

              2. Interesting. Self-serving tirades. Coming from someone so obviously incapable of reading and comprehending the most simple of texts, that was a big one, especially from you. You appear, from the various nasty, rude and belligerent comments that you have posted in response to others on here, to be a sad, desperate individual, who thrives on criticizing just about everything and anything posted. Good luck with that. Really sad, actually. It’s a consistent pattern, which is, in and of itself, quite telling. There was nothing self-serving about my comment, as it was just an example of how some in society, so seemingly broke and destitute, aren’t always what they appear. Get a grip, lonely boy.

              3. HW – I am not sure whether to blame you or the current educational system.

                1. PS,

                  Of course you’re confused on whether my obvious lack of comprehension — which is my assumption, you never stated it, just another lazy PS quip riding on others before him — should pass blame on current educational standards or whether I’m a dullard.

                  Yet, you were a professional educator — history, if memory serves — and you think education fell apart the day you left the profession?

                  Maybe if you would cite more references for your “facts” people might take you somewhat seriously — but then again, they might not.

        1. Gad, you don’t even have compassion for fellow commenters, let alone people in desperate situations.

    2. If desperate & incarcerated actually pulled in a combined $600 tax-free a day at least 2 things in your story seem all wrong. #1–They live in cheap hotels. Unless they spend all the $ on drugs or something similar, they could very easily afford a spacious & comfortable 1-bedroom apartment even in high-cost cities. #2–They wouldn’t tell you about it. I’m pretty sure you’re being lied to.

      1. I have no doubt that most, if not all of the money is and/or was wasted on any assortment of drugs and alcohol. Did I ever mention anything to the contrary? Nothing uncommon about loads of money being wasted on that garbage. It merely explains, as opposed to contradicts, the desperation to get back out on the street to hustle in such a lucrative field. I shared the story because the average person would never dream that these panhandlers, on our roadways, so disheveled and filthy, probably take in more, on a daily basis, than anyone reading this article. Remember, the incarcerated individual had a roof over his head, along with three square meals a day, so this wasn’t about seeking shelter or food. Most of the homeless have substance abuse issues, not to mention mental health issues. I find it fascinating that the story is met with such skepticism–you’re being conned or you’re making it up–although I understand the skepticism. It is mind blowing to realize that some people, begging for change alongside the highway, could be taking in such vast amounts of cash, on a daily basis. Assuming that anyone raking in that kind of dough would necessarily want to spend it on a stable and clean environment, like an apartment, is, however, a mistake. Many of the homeless eschew living in one, specific place, as they find the responsibilities and rules, which accompany said apartments, to be stifling. Assuming that your values– which include the need for a comfortable and stable residence–are universal, is a mistake.

        1. “. . . the desperation to get back out on the street to hustle in such a lucrative field.”

          Sure, bam bam, hustling on the street is extremely lucrative.

          Everyone can see this as they drive by — the easy money flowing, everyone having fun in such a lucrative field.

          “I shared the story because the average person would never dream that these panhandlers, on our roadways, so disheveled and filthy, probably take in more, on a daily basis, than anyone reading this article.”

          That doesn’t speak so well for your abilities then, does it bam bam.

        2. “Many of the homeless eschew living in one, specific place, as they find the responsibilities and rules, which accompany said apartments, to be stifling.”

          How do you know this, bam bam?

          This question is of course predicated on your claim that, “some of them,” make $600.00 a day. This is $18,000.00/month.

          And everyday they come home to a place they eschew only to leave the next morning looking much the same.

          Makes sense to me. What jerks they are to take such advantage of good-natured people such as yourself!

        3. “It is mind blowing to realize that some people, begging for change alongside the highway, could be taking in such vast amounts of cash, on a daily basis. Assuming that anyone raking in that kind of dough would necessarily want to spend it on a stable and clean environment, like an apartment, is, however, a mistake.”

          Sure, they would rather hide their, “vast amounts of cash,” under a rock for other people to steal while they’re out, “raking it in.” This is obviously why they “eschew” apartments.

          What a laughable story you’ve told, bam bam.

        4. “I find it fascinating that the story is met with such skepticism–you’re being conned or you’re making it up . . .”

          Who is “you’re,” bam bam?

          I think you’re making the story up, I think you’re being conned into thinking that such an anecdotal tale, most likely built up with no substantiation yet with much reverberation amongst your feeble friends — other than your own claimed witness — speaks for so many.

          Paltry, comes to mind.

  14. You are such an idiot. If you think a homeless guy, who really likes being homeless, wants to stand around smoking and slinging the bull with you, then you know nothing of homeless people.

    1. …and what do you know of homeless people? You are probably one of those misguided morons that says he saw a homeless guy walk from begging on the street to a new expensive car and then you followed him until he drove into the driveway of a big expensive house. People who repeat that simple-minded myth are immediately shunned by every thinking person who hears them tell it.

    2. Hefner, I can tell the homeless would want nothing to do w/ someone of your ilk. I have many homeless friends and acquaintances. Some homeless do not want to engage. But many do. The Mike I spoke of in my comment will always start a new topic when he can tell I’m about to leave. He craves personal connections.

  15. Or, Darren, you could buy them something healthy to eat…

    Your other post (about your wife being stranded in the airport) brought me back almost 30 years to a night during which I was temporarily stranded in Gare du Nord in Paris waiting for the train to Brussels. A homeless guy was begging. Instead of giving him money, I went and bought him a big sandwich with lots of veggies on it.

    1. andrea, I have tried this several times and was turned down when offering food; they only wanted money, booze, or cigarettes. I had a person get rather upset with me when I refused to buy him cigarettes in D.C. even though I was more than willing to buy him a sandwich or other food, or offer him the apples I had with me. I will continue to offer food when asked, but absolutely refuse to give money, booze, or cigarettes. I support the local food pantry by growing extra food in my garden and donating it when I can. While I empathize with the plight of the homeless, I will not contribute to the problems that may have led them to their current life situation.

  16. Whenever I see a homeless person, I’m reminded of an explosive movie, Clancy (2009), where an abused runaway changes the life of a homeless Gulf War vet. It’s by far one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Homeless people are homeless because they no longer have someone to love. And people who love, refuse homlessness. Jefferson Moore wrote, directed, and starred as the homeless vet.

  17. Not a bad idea to engage them and understand that the homeless after all are humans with a story of their own.
    I would like to drift off topic a bit, I’m thinking of the homeless veteran. So much concern is given for illegal aliens, where they are housed, what they eat, how much free money is given to them, legal help etc..

    Still our American veteran sits homeless, alone, in need of food and fighting for veterans benefits and nothing is being done.

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