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Are panhandlers the ultimate salesmen?


[John Pendygraft, Times | View more photos]

Maybe you feel sorry for them: Times are tough. It could be me.

Maybe they make you angry because they want handouts.

Homeless or not, desperate or not, they all have their strategies, each one forged in the blast oven of the streets.

Ask Cliff Stewart, 49, who has been pounding the pavement at the 22nd Ave. N exit in St. Petersburg since he got out of prison two years ago, and he'll say, "Panhandling isn't just a job. It's an art."

You have to know what moves people most: Beer and God.

Today's St. Petersburg Times story is moving readers to respond, many with angry responses, others sympathetic.

"Panhandlers are the ultimate salesmen - they get people to give them money for nothing. Hate on them all you want, but what it boils down to is that a fool and his money are soon parted," commented JH from St. Pete.

"This just proves what I've known all along: The vast majority just don't want a real job & continue to milk the system," wrote Jimbo from St. Petersburg. "I stopped giving 5 years ago when I saw one get out of his newer Buick with the kids & beg on the corner."

JR from Seminole
wrote that Times reporter Lane DeGregory "just killed the income for these peeps. I'm cool with it, some are very annoying. Most, well, if they are getting money from people, then so be it."

"If there were any honest to goodness homeless people out there, their peers have totally ruined it for them with this story," wrote Janene from Port Richey. "You can't trust anyone these days. Sad." 

Ken from Tallahassee reminded readers: "Just remember you don't have to give them any money if you don't want to."

Read the story, share your opinion.

[Last modified: Monday, May 24, 2010 3:54pm]


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