I think we all agree that abolishing panhandling outright is a bit outrageous. If not for the panhandlers themselves, consider the poor cops that have to burn calories ticketing this nonsense.
What we should do is better define what type of panhandling is acceptable, and which types are better suited for blending Into the insanity of North Station and Downtown Crossing. Thus, let us find a happy medium and observe the Panhandling Power rankings:
#1 The “disabled veteran” guy.
The white whale of panhandlers these days…almost muscled out of action by all the other panhandling acts. If they’re not collecting your coins, they’re serving as a general reminder that we treat our troops and vets like shit. They take the number one spot, and it’s not up for debate.
#2 The Busker
When you’re talking about a busker, you’re talking about range. Instruments can range from Woodwinds to kazoos. Talent can range from future Berkelee grads to grade school recorder pieces. The production level is always different. While they probably work the hardest for our coins, nobody dislikes a busker…accept for maybe this guy.
#3 The Spare Change newspaper guy.
Right up there with the “Disabled Veteran” guy. There’s a level of honesty that you’ve got to respect. There’s a little something coming back your way for your nickels. Unfortunately, most people would prefer to not walk around with that crappy rag so you end up putting the head down or checking the phone for non-existent emails as you walk by. Definitely acceptable per the panhandling power rankings.
#4 The “Have a nice day guy.”
This guy owns the sidewalks that are most traveled. If skill is what you’re looking for, the “have a nice day” is not for you. The only ingredients required here is personality, stamina, and a dash of panache. Perhaps only the busker can leave you feeling as good as the “have a nice day” guy. He’s in.
#5 The “Why lie, I need a beer guy.”
On the outside looking in is the The “Why lie, I need a beer guy.” Hands down the most overrated panhandler in the biz. If the panhandler who came up with the bit trademarked it, he wouldn’t be panhandling anymore. Unfortunately, these guys make a killing with the drunken college crowd. As a budding College town, we can do without these guys.
#6 The “Can I bum a smoke guy.”
I absolutely abhor these guys and I don’t even smoke. These guys come around within ten seconds sparking your smoke and they’ve already completed an inventory on what’s left in your pack. And it doesn’t end with simply forking over a butt. Not so fast Chief…you’re going to light that for them too. Forget the fact that a single cigarette costs more than a Pro-V1 these days.
#7. The “Need bus fare and just trying to get back home guy.”
The worst of the worst, by a mile. They’re always dressed like a dude you see on MTV’s teen mom, and easily the most aggressive of the bunch. Every one of them reminds you of the shit birds from high-school your parents didn’t want you to hang out with. Unfortunately, you’re most likely to fork over some nickels just to get them out your face.