Enterprising Panhandler Signs

Some of the most creative signs used by beggars.

Every now and then you encounter a panhandler begging for money. This is starting to become commonplace here in Pinellas County, Florida along US-19 where beggars hold up signs at traffic intersections asking for money. The signs they hold typically convey the message, “Homeless and hungry. Please help. Thank you and God bless.”

Motorists have mixed emotions about offering donations. Some happily offer their spare change, others roll up their windows and lock their doors in fear for their safety.

The beggars of Pinellas Country are neophytes when compared to New York panhandlers who have turned it from an art to a science. It was in New York where the idea of cleaning windshields first started. Most people gave the beggars money, not out of kindness, but to keep them away from their cars. In New York, the beggars realize a simple sign like, “Please Help,” no longer works. Instead, they have to have a gimmick, such as holding a door open at a public store, or perhaps they dress in flamboyant costumes to entertain the public. Most though, have developed some very creative signs which makes pedestrians either laugh or think. The beggars know very well, a clever sign means big bucks. Here are some of the most interesting signs I have encountered:

“Family kidnapped by Ninjas. Need $ for Karate lessons.” – This is the standard sign used to amuse pedestrians. There are slightly different variations of it out there, but this is the bread and butter of signs.

However, there are many other signs reflecting some real ingenuity:

“I slept with Lindsay Lohan last week – Please help.” – (Yes, please.)

“Blah, blah, blah…Money.
Blah, blah, blah…Food.
Blah, blah, blah…
Who Reads Signs Anyway?
Anything helps. Thank you.”

– (I like guys who are honest and cut to the chase.)

“Too ugly to prostitute. Too stoopid to steal.” – (I saw this woman. She’s right.)

Here’s a few that I found rather clever and I suspect worked well for the panhandlers:

“Let’s do lunch. U-Buy.”

“I’ll bet you $1 you’ll read this sign.”

“I’m like Obama. I want change.”

“Bills larger than $50 will NOT be accepted after 9pm.”

“I’ll bet you can hit me with a quarter.”

“Desperate need for hair weave. Please help.”

“Will take verbal abuse for $1.00.”

“Need cash for alcohol research.”

I found these next two signs rather disturbing. Although they were trying to be humorous, I looked upon these people as deadbeats:

“16 Wives.
7 hungry dogs
3 thin cats.
25 kids and still horny.
Please help with loose change.”

“Too lazy to work. Too scared to steal. Please assist.”

You can see the influence of technology in these signs:

“Homeless + Hungry. God bless!!!!!
PayPal – 40dude@gmail.com”

“Will code HTML for food. Please help.”

“Will work for text messaging.”

“Replaced by CGI – please help” – (man dressed as a robot.)

“Time Traveler – Help! Need $ for New Flux Capacitor” – (I presume this is intended to appeal to fans of science fiction.)

In New York I found the panhandlers to be somewhat territorial in nature. They hustled for their preferred location and kept an eye open for anyone infringing on their territory. This final sign sums it up:

“If you don’t wanna spare me some change, at least don’t give any to the other Bums!”

It’s fascinating, even beggars appear to possess the American spirit of entrepreneurship.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant who writes commentaries about the times we live in be it in the corporate world, the Masonic world, or our personal lives. His writings are well known on the Internet and are humorous, educational, and at times controversial. You won’t always agree with him, but Tim will definitely get you thinking.

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  1. I saw one many years ago that made me laugh, and give a buck.

    “Who am I trying to kid? I need a drink.”

    I later felt bad because despite the honesty, the guy had a problem and I made it a little worse. It put me on a meditation on this and I realized that 1) these folks are unwittingly asking people to contribute to hurting them and 2) people are unwittingly complying in the name of kindness.

    My meditations since lead me to take the stance of simply leaving them alone. They get lectured all the time, so that won’t help. People give them AA pamphlets all the time so that won’t help. Frankly, I am uncertain what can help.

    We live in a country free enough to allow someone to choose to spend their days like that. They, and by extension we, are also free from being told how they must live their lives. Lord knows I have my flaws and I would be deeply offended by someone presuming to mandate my daily activities. So I respect the activities they choose to do (so long as they are legal, that is).

    It is just the sadness of poor choices. I really have no idea what the solution is, but I wish I could find one. Alcoholism is endemic among my fellow Alaskan Natives.

    Steven Warner, Anchorage Lodge 17, Grand Lodge of Alaska

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