Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette
My wife and I visited New York for a couple of days last week. We were walking through Times Square and masses of people on Saturday night after seeing a show when someone called out to us for money, pleading: “Will you please give me a couple of dollars? I am hungry.”
I barely heard his cry out of my right ear, as we were moving forward with the crowds.
I hadn’t really noticed this guy as I was trying to watch where we were going, not trip on someone or the sidewalk while trying to enjoy the lights and sounds of Times Square.
People begging for money have become a common sight in America. I see it in Cincinnati, Nashville, Washington, Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland and … well, you get the picture; begging is everywhere in America to some extent.
There is no American who can hand money to every beggar they pass on the street. My wife and I try on occasions to help people. We’ve seen mothers with their babies, families, and armed-forces veterans on the streets begging. We have passed people and then gone back with a few dollars if we had it to give.
Last Saturday night, I was more attuned to walking with my wife and trying to enjoy a brief NYC visit. For some reason, this beggar in Times Square tuned in on me when I did not turn my head and look at him or respond. He moved toward me, got in my face and yelled at me: “You are a son of a b***h and I hope that you choke on your food tonight”.
I looked at him for just a moment. He was a very angry man obviously from the Middle East. I don’t know if he was from Syria, Yemen or who knows where but he was definitely Middle Eastern.
My wife and I moved forward. I wasn’t scared but it’s irritating to be accosted for money when someone is calling my mother the B word. I was happy that I had not given that man a penny.
I understand that people become desperate and hungry, that poverty is rampant in this nation, that people are victims of unfortunate circumstances. I do believe we should help people and I’ve tried throughout my life always to be involved in charitable projects.
But I don’t feel sorry for people who feel they are entitled to harass, accost and literally try to rob people.
I am seeing more and more in America’s cities of what I’ve seen in Africa, Turkey and other countries, which is harassment, begging and pleading. In 2005, our tour guide warned about leaving the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey, telling us people would beg vehemently for anything we had. Do not even make eye contact with them we were told. Sure enough, a mob did everything but try to take our wallets and purses, begging for anything we might give them.
More and more such people are coming to America and more of them will end up on our streets and prowling our neighborhoods. Taking a carefree stroll along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, through Times Square or in almost any major American city has changed.
We’ve always had the poor and needy but now we are facing a different, frightening mentality that does not mind getting in your face to acquire some of your money or possessions.
If a guy in Times Square calls you a SOB and wishes you would choke on your food, please do what I did not have the presence of mind to do – hindsight is always 20-20. Tell him about all the immigrants working all over America. Tell him he can work a real job too or do us all a favor and go back to where he came from.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose syndicated column is read in all 50 states.