By Drew Villano

There are countless beggars and bums in New York City. You want to give to charity, but you can’t just give your change to everyone who brandishes pictures of their fake kids or a simple old styrofoam cup. You have limited resources, after all. Here’s how to tell which homeless people are faking it, and who is actually worthy of your extra thirty cents.

Okay, so you can’t really tell…unless they’re crust punks. Don’t give money to crust punks. Those guys are dicks. Nodding out on heroin for an entire summer with a Pit Bull borrowed from a shelter before heading back to reality at mommy and daddy’s upstate mansion in the wintertime does not qualify as being “homeless.” Typically entitled, demanding brats, crust punks can be recognized by their purposely soiled black clothing laden with patches advertising bands no one’s ever heard of because they played one crappy show in 1998 and sounded like an orchestra of dying cats, their giant backpacks, dyed hair, septum rings, and aforementioned dogs. These people are not nice, they are not appreciative and they are the last people who need your help. If you want to help them in spite of the fact that they are a blemish on the face of an already misunderstood and unfairly judged community, buy them dog food for their pets.

Homeless people don’t have the money to be so punk. Hair dye, piercings, tattoos, and cool clothing are usually not in the budget of someone who is truly in need of help. It must be noted that there are surely exceptions to the rule.

But besides avoiding the groups of “homeless” kids who are blatantly having play dates on the sidewalk until they garner enough change for more beer, it can be pretty hard to tell who’s faking it and who isn’t — and you probably shouldn’t try.

Helping people is about the act itself, not judging who is and is not worthy of receiving it. If you’re making the decision to try and make someone’s day a little better, you should consider a few things:

  • A certain mentality and resilience is required of anyone who has the humility to beg for change and face a constant flow of cold indifference, extremely small increments of pay and the cruelty of those who feel it necessary to lash out at these people for “being a bum” and “not getting a job.”
  • As someone who is helping, your role stops when you hand over your gift, whatever it may be. Your part is to assist, and nothing more. Some people need you more than others. Accept that and just feel good about trying to help someone.

If you’re opposed to giving the homeless money because “they’re just going to buy drugs and you should get a job you fucking bum!” then maybe you should consider offering to buy them coffee or a sandwich.

People who are extremely dirty, unkempt, and smell like they may have soiled themselves are probably suffering from mental illness. As a society, we have discarded them to fend for themselves in the streets of NYC because it’s not profitable to give them the proper care and attention they need. Try to remember that next time you’re getting all annoyed that Stinky McShitHimself is “invading your personal space, ugh” on the F train.


Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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