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Location: British Columbia, Canada

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Headlines: The World Is Round

No, not really. My local paper would be above and beyond posting a headline like that, no? After all, here in suburbia, we've got all the smut and glory of any old metropolis. We've got The Trial. We've got that fucker that ruined what may or may not have been one of the best House episodes ever (I wouldn't know, I missed the best parts), running around in bullet proof armour while threatening to blow away random strangers across the street from me. Yes, in the middle of House. Fuck that shit.

But no, that's not the headlines. Don't want people to think that our little piece of suburban heaven may be, well, unpretty, do we? So what's the front page news? The full page news? The entire cover of the local paper, in all it's technicoloured glory?

Seniors Scared of Panhandlers

I shit you not.

Now, there are two things I find rather terrifying about this. Number one being the fact that anyone would give a damn about what seniors find scary. Because we all know what seniors find scary, and adding to the list is pretty fucking redundant. Hell, let's do it anyway:
  • Dogs
  • Stairs
  • Sidewalks
  • Ice
  • Driving
  • Not driving
  • Driving over thirty
  • Admitting that if you're fucking blind you should not be driving
  • Commies
  • Hippies
  • Pinkos
  • Vietnamese
  • Homosexuals
  • Girls who aren't married by the age of twenty
  • Girls who don't wear makeup
  • Boys who flirt with their grand daughters
  • Grand daughters who don't have boys flirting with them
  • Koreans
  • Cats
  • Bats
  • Food made by anyone but them
  • The after affects of food, made by anyone, including them
  • Students
  • Computers
  • Voicemail
  • Cell phones
  • Cordless phones
  • Non-rotary phones
  • Protestants or Catholics, depending
  • Mennonites, non-depending
  • Beer, wine, rye, vodka (but not scotch or brandy)
  • And yet; cognac
  • How the fuck can you be scared of cognac, but drink brandy?
  • People
  • Being alone
  • The indoors
  • The outdoors
  • Dying
  • Life

Did I miss anything? Oh, probably. Yeah, my bad, I forgot to add darkies, spinsters, bastards, cuckolds, children born out of wedlock, and the mothers of said children.

Oh, and the homeless, of course.

Which gets us to the second point of what scares the shit out of me: The city has taken this phobia as its golden child in an attempt to milk the seniors approval for all its worth.

Before I go on, I gotta give a hat tip to the chief of police, who seems rather stuck between a rock and a hard place at this point, and seems to be doing well at paying lip service to whatever fucking moron up in city hall decided that penalizing homelessness was a cheap way to garner votes, at the same time as managing not to go out Nazi style on any box dwellers.

See here, we have bylaws against "aggressive" panhandling. Yes, this is the country where business is seen as the only viable option for students, advertising aimed at children is banned only in that province full of fucking frogs that no one cares about anyway, and all you have to do to score with ten vapid teenagers is drink enough bud (but not light, we're not quite American). So what does "aggressive" panhandling entail? Cause I could work with that shit. I've been spat on, it sucks. Any bylaw against spitting on me is a good bylaw in my books.

But no, these bylaws, they're to make sure that panhandlers don't be operating anywhere that there might actually be money. No stopped vehicles. They're stuck. They can't escape you. They don't know how to say no. Obviously, in New West, only men drive.

And add panhandling within ten meters of a bus stop, bank, or credit union. That's ten meters, kids, not ten feet. And ten meters is like, eight city blocks, or some shit like that.

The thing about New West is that the commercial areas are pretty freakin' compact. This is a small suburb schmucked between other suburbs. We're surrounded on all sides, ain't no where to grow. So the two commercial areas each take up about six city blocks, and that's all folks. Nowhere else to go, but to the next city over. So our bus stops/credit unions/ banks? All looped up in the same area. If you count out ten meters between that shit, you're left with some serious overlap.

Which means when they say, "We're not trying to criminalize homelessness," what they mean is, "It's only criminal if we have to witness your homelessness. Out of sight, out of mind, after all."

It's a panhandler. Deal. They say, "Hey, spare some change?" You say, "No, sorry." Done. If you have a problem with that, it's not because you can't deal with a sales pitch. You've been in a car dealership. You took that shit for a test drive, even though you had no intentions of buying. You window shop for clothes, and if you happen to try them on, so be it. You watch tv, and sit through the ads. Hell, you did an eat and run when you were sixteen, I know it. I saw you. I've got it on videotape.

Panhandling? It's shit you can buy, or not, as you choose. So choose. Make up your own fucking mind. Buy into that 'free choice' theory, and make a free fucking choice. Yes, there's a cost involved: panhandler may buy drugs, or coffee, who knows? But guess what? There's always a cost involved. I don't give a shit about you're inability to reason through that cost and come up with a decision as to it's merits on your own. If you're that fucking incompetent, there oughta be a bylaw against you, asshole.

We don't need specific laws targeting aggressive panhandlers. If a panhandler is acting in a truly aggressive manner, well that's already covered under our other laws. Check it out: Following people around? Stalking. Verbally abusing people? Verbal abuse. Physically abusing people? Physical abuse. Etc, etc, etc. It's there, it's done. The truly aggressive panhandlers are covered under the exact same laws as the rest of us.

This notion of "aggressive" as applying to any panhandler who may approach you when you can't lie about having cash is fucking stupid. If you honestly believe that this is some kind of fucking meritocracy where a native girl who's missing half her teeth because, despite the fact that they have medical, she grew up on a reserve where the nearest dentist was three ferry rides away can get the same job as you hooked up your daughter with at your husbands law firm, and you really, truly believe that this kid is on the street because she deserves to be, don't give her money.

And if the idea that some people really don't have anywhere else to go, or anything else to do, makes you uncomfortable? So be it. Be uncomfortable. Toss and turn on your Sealy. Have an extra glass of red before bed. Read two more chapters of that blockbuster novel that you just had to buy in hardcover. Take a motherfucking bubble bath. Because believe it or not, you're guilty conscience does not justify criminalizing homelessness.

Guess what, asshole. You're guilt's not going away. Eat it up, because you made it, and you'll fucking like it.


Blogger Matt said...

"Seniors Scared of Panhandlers"

As you point out, you would think that seniors have more pressing issues to think about. Like...oh, I don't know, DEATH for example. I would add that one to the list. Their impending demise. Their upcoming dirt nap. What the fuck? Poverty stricken folks have it hard enough, it's not like need any extra hate being directed their way

Man, this is a great post. I love your anger. Does your anger have a sister?

2/18/2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger shadow of a doubt said...

Hi, I am angers evil sister jelousy. Now back off this blog before I sick my poverty pathogen on ya.

But really, Matt's got a point. Your rage is hot.
So, on that note, some empathy must be felt for the seniors here. Death shmeth, there ain't no more lovin' for the pelvicly challenged. And really, what is it that we all really live for. It is the same thing that forces us into proclaiming our mortal lives to another. Maybe these ol'folks are just scared to see that these homeless are letting the fruit of their loins rot. Don't they know that if they were to get a home, a room even, somewhere, that they too could take part in everyone's favorite recreation. It's the old adage: you don't know what you got till it's gone.
Hell, I've just motivated myself into getting my own room.

2/18/2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Maine said...

Yeah, me and this post are gonna have to go get a motel room together. I've got some plans for her.

Two points:
1.) "Yeah, we've got a problem with the homeless. We don't like them asking us for our harded earned cash while we're on the way to the casino. Sure, we could put some programs in place that make it so they don't have to end up panhandling in the first place, but it's easier to watch them fail so I can feel better about my own successes."

2.) Old people also fear:
a.) change
b.) crossing streets
c.) being ignored by panhandlers
d.) circling vultures
e.) evolution theory
f.) and reading this post.

2/20/2006 5:15 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Matt: I beat you to it; dying is on the list. And yeah, this'll really make it easier for them.

Shadow: Sure, I've got tons and tons of empathy for people who can't get laid. I've just got more empathy for people who can't get laid cause they sleep in a gutter than those who can't get laid because their libido was laid to rest back in the 70's.
Go get that room, though. You could use it (and Good!).

1)Where have we heard this before? How long does it take to catch on?
2)Good ones. Especially change. How could I have missed change?

Everybody: Aw, shucks. You're making me (and my post, and my rage) blush.

2/20/2006 9:39 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

"I beat you to it; dying is on the list."

Damn. I am the most ADD human alive. I have the attention span of a flea.

2/20/2006 10:59 AM  
Blogger Maine said...

I'll have you know that this post and I just spent a long afternoon together at a Super 8 Motel. And... we're thinking about making this an every two weeks sort of thing.

2/20/2006 3:14 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Matt: No worries. I considered shortening the list to a more reader friendly length, then thought, it's a list. People can skim. And skim you did.

Maine: I call your bluff. I know my post, and my post would never settle for an every two weeks sort of thing.

2/21/2006 7:34 AM  

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