We have a rather aggressive panhandler at the "Y", the intersection where Highways 2 and 395 split off from Division, who creates some conflicted feelings for me. On one hand, I sympathize with people who beg for food and money. I never give money, but I have handed over food on more than one occasion. The problem I have is this person walks up to the car while pointing to his "Hungry. Need help." sign with a "How 'bout it?" expression on his face. He does this for every vehicle that's waiting at the red light. When the light turns green, he walks back to the intersection and waits for the red light to stop the next batch of potential donors.
I'm guessing he does well since he's there so often. And I've seen him standing at the intersection counting the dollar bills he's collected. But I find his method and actions have helped callous me because he gives me the feeling that those who give are merely contributing to a lucrative activity and not necessarily helping someone who is in need.
But how do I know his situation? How do I know what he uses the money for? Like I said, I'm conflicted.
To put it more precisely, I feel this guy has crossed the line from relying on the sympathy of others to preying on their guilt. Does that make sense?