Perfectly Healthy Woman Panhandles As Car Accident Victim

NY bumWatched by news reporters, a perfectly healthy, woman, perhaps in her early 20s was caught panhandling.

How Did She Do It?

As her workday began, she would dress up as an old woman and hobble on a pair of crutches.  In fact, she was so bent over that her back was nearly parallel with the ground.  As she walked, she carried a paper cup in her hand for collecting cash donations.  By her appearance, pedestrians were quite convinced she was really handicapped.

This woman hung out on streets such as 5th Avenue in downtown New York.  She would only walk down avenues that contained eccentric stores as Gucci, Prada, Nieman Marcus, and Tiffany’s-locations where she knew that the more affluent and generous people shopped.

On busy days she would collect as many as 50 donations in one hour.  As she approached passer-bys she used lines as “Please help me” and those who gave, she thanked and said “God bless you.”

Confronted By News Reporters

She was secretly watched by a female news reporter for at least three days.  When she was finished begging for the day, she would commute on a bus out to Queens.  It was there where she parked her minivan and change into her normal clothes and then exited without the crutches.  She dressed in nice clothes and wore Ugg boots.

The reporter stated, “It’s a totally different looking woman that emerges when the van pulls over.  Why it’s a miracle, she is walking perfectly fine and the crutches are gone.”

Another reporter was told that she was paralyzed in a car accident.  He asked her “What happened?”  She responded, “Accident.”

The news team’s cameras recorded her crossing streets, meeting with friends, walking up stairs, and stopping as stores to shop as she carried a cell phone.  Finally the reporter confronted her and told her “We had been watching you for a few days and you don’t really need those crutches do you?  We saw you this morning walking perfectly fine.”

How did she respond to that?  She simply ignored the reporter and continued walking down the street.

My Advice

Remember this story.  Some bums are well-to-do people dressed up in costumes.

When approached by such a person, don’t be so eager to give them money.  If you see repeatedly see the same beggar hanging out in a specific location, this should raise a red flag.  If this individual approaches you, tell them you observed them numerous times and you are suspicious of them.  Suggest a place they can go for help.  Find out these locations.  If you’re able to snap a picture of with your cell phone, do so and submit it to local authorities.

For those who commute to work and back using public transportation, you should not have to be approached by panhandlers every day.  Downtown shoppers should also be able to shop without having to run into them.  Not only do they annoy people, but they hurt businesses in areas they hang out in.  By giving to a beggar, you’re only promoting such behavior.


Mysophobia – About the Germ Fanatic

Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

The Myths of A Compulsive Shopper

I Hate Overly Long CDs

Ten Ways to Become a Better Conversationalist


Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

English: Gossiping Taken from the churchyard. ...

English: Gossiping Taken from the churchyard. This group of riders chatted for a good ten minutes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever we find out that something has gone wrong in someone’s life or someone made a big mistake, we all would like to know all the details about this.  Also, some of us strive to find out everything we can about coworkers, family members, or friends by becoming extremely observant, or nosy, should I say.  I like to refer to these people as “fault sniffers”, commonly coined as gossipers.

My Foster Mother Was a Gossiper

I was raised in a foster home of 8 children.  Our mother was very critical about every one of us and our flaws.  It was like, if one of us developed a problem, even at 4 years of age, we would more likely have that problem for the rest of our lives.  If there was something we were not so good at or if we made some kind of silly mistake, she would blab about it to the rest of the family and to even her relatives.  Even if you were just a young kid, say under 10 years old, every little stupid thing you’ve done was treated as if it were a traffic violation or crime that went down on your record.  Mom was evil, critical, and would deliberately do things to cause friction and humiliation within the family.

Even as we reached adulthood, our mother would never stop gossiping.  She felt that since she raised us, she indefinitely owned us.  After we had all left home, she would come and visit us frequently.  Whenever she was over, she would ask us lots of questions and poke around through every room in our homes just to see what she could find.

Surely enough, each one of us has made some kind of decision that she disagreed with.  For me, I had purchased my first home in 1988 and decided to have a young couple move in with me as tenants.  Because they were not so wealthy I allowed them to live there for $150 per month, especially since they agreed to do most of the work around the house.  Mother felt that I was being taken advantage of and told me I should charge them $300 per month, which was more than they could afford.   She told me how I should handle all my affairs including groceries and utilities.  I stood firm on doing what I thought was right.  So what did she do?  She circulated this news among the entire family.

She was the ultimate news source.  I would hear all kinds of interesting news from her as she criticized decisions others had made.  For example, if someone purchased a large ticket item she thought was lucrative (like a TV, etc), she would tell everyone about it.  One of my sisters sold every piece of furniture they had so her husband could fly down to Texas.  She had to tell everybody about that.

Finally, with everyone my mother had met including our spouses and friends, she had to find out as much about them as possible.  As for my biological sister’s boyfriend, she would ask me numerous questions about him, where he was from, his lifestyle, etc.  It’s like she had to know everything about everyone who crossed her path.  She was hoping to discover something extremely unusual or wrong with them.  I saw this as a sign of insecurity or inadequacy on her part. By finding fault in others, this may have made her feel better about herself.

Why People Gossip

Why do people gossip?  It surely doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to answer this question.  Not only must we satisfy our yearning to find about others’ mishaps, but to also justify for our inner feelings of inadequacy.  The more we can find out about our everyday atmosphere and the people in it, the greater the sense of power we feel we have.  Once we gather a great wealth of information, we can’t wait to share it with everyone in our social circles.

Through gossiping, some people acquire a false sense of self-esteem.  By finding out as much as they can about what others are doing and what’s happening in their neighborhoods, communities, and workplaces, some feel they have an edge on everyone else.  Once they pass on the pertinent info they discovered, they get a great feeling inside as they believe they won the approval of others.  To them, it is an assurance they’ll strengthen their casual relationships and be recognized as a knowledgeable person.

Our Natural Curiosities

We like to find out as much as we can about our neighbors.  So we do things like listen for noises going on outside our homes, observe how people keep up their yards, gaze in the windows of homes after dark, or scope out other peoples’ possessions as cars, boats, etc.  Once we gather some info, we chat about it with others to see how they feel and hopefully, find out even more.

Like we observe our neighbors, we love to find out what goes on in our community.  It all begins with watching other drivers on the road.  Some of us love to gaze in the windows of moving vehicles to see what other drivers are doing (like talking on a cell phone) or who is driving.  If we see a motorist whom was pulled over by the police, we would like to know the details of what exactly happened.  Traffic accidents raise our level of curiosity even more.  We have the tendency to slow down and inspect the scene to see what vehicles were involved and what damage has been done.  Oh how we wish we could have seen the accident when it happened.

Not only do we observe drivers, but we look for enviromental changes too.  Construction sparks our curiosity as well.  For example, if we see a building going up, we’d like to know what it will be.  As for road construction, we’d like to know why they’re tearing up the road.

No matter where we are or who we’re with, we have a strong desire to find out unusual things about somebody.  Now, I mean some extremely weird things!  The more unusual these things are, the greater it sparks our curiosity.  It may begin with witnessing a street fight, seeing someone knock over a shelf of things in a grocery store, or sighting someone who just got pulled over the by police.

This natural curiosity dates back to our grade school days.  If someone has an usual mental of physical disability, we would like to know as much about it as we can.  If one or more of our peers failed miserably in school or even flunked a grade, this sparks a great amount of curiosity as well.

It continues on throughout high school and into our working years.  Most everyone has a natural curiosity towards their coworkers, the amount they earn, and their lifestyles.  Most of all, workers poke their noses towards their managers and everyone else above them.  They’re curious to know as much about the upper management levels of their employer and how their company is doing.  These workers will poke their noses everywhere they can and find out as much as they can through observation.

We would like to know how well others’ perform their jobs, their work habits, and their lifestyles.  So what do we do?  We observe the behavior of others and listen hard to the things they say.  Also, there are some people that attract our attention more than others.  Maybe it’s because we really like (or dislike) their appearance, we hear things from or about them that excite us, or maybe it’s just a sense of personal chemistry.  If there’s someone that you’re extremely curious about, chances are you’ll find out things about them without poking your nose at them.

Although they would like to be on one of the top rungs of the ladder, getting there often requires a lot more skill and expertise than they believe they have.  Since this is true, instead of envying those above them, these coworkers look for ways to cut their superiors down, just to make themselves feel better.  This is why employees group together and go out to lunch or congregate after work, someplace off the employer’s premises.  Many will hit a bar after work just to have a few drinks as they are more inclined to share what is on their minds.

It all boils down to one thing: coworkers wish they could have as much authority and earn as much money as their superiors.  For those coworkers who feel they’re stuck in a hopeless rut, they’ll find any way possible to demean those above them.  Through gossiping, workers seek social approval from their friends.

Covering Up for Our Inadequacies

Everyone has an inadequacy of some kind.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there have been some things we have done or some things that happened to us that we are not too proud of.

Such examples are having a troubled childhood, getting a DWI, being fired, becoming a victim or rape or robbery, finding out our significant other is cheating on us, losing money on a scam, and the list goes on and on.  Maybe it was a big mistake we made resulting in a large loss or great damage, such as making a bad investment.  Negligent acts that were our fault or embarrassing mishaps betray us as well.

Likewise, it may be a personal weakness, a fault or flaw, or physical defect we have that causes us to feel insecurity.  It may be an attention deficit, behavioral disorder, depression, unmanageable anger, recklessness, or habitual negligence.  Possibly, one is unhappy about their appearance making them insecure.  One may feel inadequate become she doesn’t have many friends or has nothing to say during a social gathering.  Maybe, there was a situation where one was treated unfavorably because of a flaw he has.

How do we cope with our imperfections or misfortunes?  We like to find out about others who have experienced the same things or possess the same flaws we have.  Hearing about mistakes others have made makes us feel better.  This is because we realize we’re not the only one who has had this happen to.

A great number of people are humble.  Whatever happened to them, whether it was their fault or not, they are willing to share their stories.  Even if it is a quirk they have or something stupid they did, or an incorrect conclusion about something, they’ll openly talk about it.  For them, it is a great way to get what is bothering them off their chest.  Expressing these things also arouses the interest of those they speak to.

However, there are times when we never find out what others have experienced.  This is where gossiping comes in.  Gossipers have the natural tendency to phish for information by asking people questions or eavesdropping in on them.  In some instances, people discover flaws of others without even trying.  For instance, one may witness a celebrity or an authority figure doing something really stupid.  Once they capture some sensitive facts, they can’t wait to share them with their friends.  Not only is this a feeling of gainfulness, it is a search for approval from them.  Hence, gossiping serves as a way to gain a social boost.

Spreading Rumors

What is a rumor?  As defined in the Webster dictionary, rumor has more than one meaning:

  1. Talk or opinion that is disseminated to others with no discernible source.
  2. A statement or report made without a known authority to verify its truth.

Why do people start rumors?  I have read many stories about classmates or coworkers spreading rumors throughout the school or workplace about someone, especially untrue stories.  All these stories boil down to one thing: jealousy.

The main reason rumors are started is to raise some kind of excitement.  Maybe it’s because they can’t find something else better to do.  Most of them would like to see something in particular happen, usually something bad or negatively arousing (such as a business going under or somebody getting fired, etc) and they’ll try to get others stirred up at the same time.  They will in turn make up some type of story stating that it’s really happening.  At the same time, they love to observe peoples’ reactions to their story.

Let’s pick two fictitious characters: Jill and Sue.   Jill, who is struggling in algebra, realizes that Sue is a math whiz.  Jill then becomes envious of Sue and seeks out a way to cut Sue down.  As a result, Jill might make up a story about how Sue cheats on a math test in order to get a passing grade.  By spreading a rumor about Sue, Jill hopes she will boost herself image and raise herself into the social spotlight.

Rumors might be used to sabotage the goals of others.  Once someone finds out that another is attempting to make a positive change, like seeking a promotion or marrying a certain person, this person may pass a rumor against the goal seeker(s).  More likely, the one who starts the rumor wishes he could do the same thing, but has no prospects.  Out of jealousy, he may attempt to derail the other person’s goals.


The Myths of a Compulsive Shopper

English: DC USA, Best Buy, Black Friday

English: DC USA, Best Buy, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I absolutely love shopping.  In fact, I once was a compulsive shopper until I was swept over the dam with credit card debt.  Shopping, especially for non-food items can become habitual and even addicting.  As for some, it can go way too far, even posing as a severe financial endangerment to those who can’t control themselves.

Although, not every compulsive shopper is exactly the same, there are common modes of thinking that bring on this habit.  Having been one myself, I have written this post to bring its readers deep into the ecstatic world of the compulsive shopper, the way I see it anyway.  As the expression goes: “It takes one to know one” and I was one (and deep down still am)….so I should know.

Just a head’s up, this post is rather long but well sectioned off.  Therefore, you are free to read the whole thing or just the parts that interest you.

Why We Shop

Shopping serves as a vehicle not only to obtaining more possessions, but also as an enjoyable pastime.  It is believed to be a means of filling many of the voids that make our lives seem unpleasant or unfulfilling.  By having all the nice things we long for, some of us tend to think we will attain an eternal happier standard of living.  Some of us may be convinced that having more will make us quite powerful or more socially acceptable.  To some, by having more, we can overcome the blues and maybe even eliminate the harsh blows life deals us in the future.  Still, others are deeply set into changing trends or styles and feel the need to keep up.  Shopping can be an attempt to “keep up with the Jones.”

The real truth is….shopping doesn’t really change our lives at all.  In fact, it may make our lives worse, especially if we go deeply into debt.  Those with the strong urge to shop compulsively refuse to see the financial damage it can do to us, especially if we must use credit cards to support this evil habit.

My Compulsive Shopping Experience

I loved shopping in the 1980s.  I would mostly shop for CDs or clothes.  Whenever a good album would come out, I just had to get it as if I don’t get it now, I never will.  Having superb audio and video equipment was nice.  I would go into Best Buy and other electronic shops, even when I didn’t need anything urgently.  When shopping for clothes I would look through any store that I could get to conveniently by bus such as Woolworths, Target, K-mart, Sears, JC Penney’s, etc.  I would go through racks of shirts, pants, or jackets imagining that having these clothes would make me a much happier person.  None of these things really changed me whatsoever.

Finally, with my urge to shop came the denial of potential financial trouble.  I figured since I had a steady job and have always made my payments in the past, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to pay my bills on time in the future.  Wrong!  Now I say that going into debt is like consuming too much alcohol.  You never see it coming, but eventually builds up whether you feel it or not.  The next thing you know, you’re totally out of control.

Following are some myths compulsive shoppers might create:

Myth 1:  I must shop to be happy.

Just think of your previous shopping experiences.  Most likely, most, if not all of them were enjoyable:

  • Maybe you were just happy to get out of the house.
  • Driving around your community and investigating any changes was interested you.
  • Walking down the halls of the mall just to see what stores were currently there.
  • Observing the holiday decorations and being a part of the atmosphere.
  • Finding great deals on things you want.
  • Comparing different brands of the type of item you’re looking for.
  • Expecting good deals on days like Black Friday or the day after Christmas.
  • Sorting through racks of clothes and finding some you really like.
  • Discovering products that you didn’t know existed.
  • Watching other shoppers to see what they’ll do.
  • Coming home late in the day with the great feeling that you really accomplished something.
  • Opening your newfound treasures and using them right away.

Past joyful experiences encourage shoppers to shop even more in the future.

However, if you hate traffic and shuffling your way through crowded malls, shopping online may be the thing for you.  Although shopping online lacks the tangible experience of traditional shopping, it is still fun in its own ways because:

  • You never have to leave your home.
  • You need not have to bring your children along or find a sitter for them.
  • You can find the best deal by browsing several retailers sites-all in a matter of minutes.
  • You can read reviews on various products before making a purchase.
  • The feeling of satisfaction you get once you’ve placed your order.
  • You can anticipate the arrival of your new product soon.

If you spend a great deal of time on the internet, most likely, you have certain sites that you love to buy from.  From sites as Amazon and eBay, you anticipate great deals and can find almost anything under the sun without going from store to store.  At the same time, you can shop for items you cannot afford now, but expect to in the future.

Even if you only shop online, you still can be a compulsive shopper, especially if past online shopping results were fantastic ones.  It can be habit forming all the same and some do it continuously because they always have.  Online shoppers are no different when it comes to their wants and needs and the feeling of accomplishment they get from shopping.

Myth 2:  Shopping will make my life more pleasurable.

Shopping brings on a temporary state of bliss.  By having many of the newest and niftiest gadgets around, your home life is likely to be a happier one. For example, you have a stereo where you can plug an iPod into, a Karaoke machine, an Xbox 360, and perhaps some dazzling new lamps to brighten up the living room.  Now your household is a much more pleasant atmosphere and it will be from now on.

It’s now a dream-come-true or a story that ends with the line “and they lived happily ever after.”  The truth is, that one day the thrill of these new household additions will be gone, perhaps long before the bills are paid.

Myth 3:  Shopping might improve my social life.

So maybe you want to make your home more cheerful and charming so when people come over, they’ll truly enjoy themselves too.  Maybe by updating your wardrobe, you’ll give your coworkers and friends a better impression of you.  And if you’re into the latest movies, books, or music, you’ll have something to talk about at work.

For example, a woman can browse through a rack of “cocktail dresses” and be amazed at how nice some of them are.  She will then get the strong urge to buy a few as she envisions herself going to parties or on cruises while wearing them.  The truth is, if she rarely if ever goes out, her fantasies will never come true.  These dresses won’t magically make that happen.

Deep inside, you may have this urge to “keep up with the Jones” to convince family members or friends that you are just like them and once they see that, you’ll win their approval.  The real truth lies not in what you have but who you are.  If you feel you don’t fit in with society as well as you’d like to, having a lot of the latest things won’t make any difference.

Myth 4:  Shopping can make me a better person.


Most, if not all of us, would like to take on a new hobby, learn a new skill, or become more educated about a particular subject.  These days, there are lots of books, videos, and kits that encourage learning or developing skills.  All of these products come in shiny, new boxes with fancy, eye-catching artwork on the covers as a means of convincing shoppers that using their product is easy, fun, and will promise them instant success.  All you need to do is follow their simple instructions and “presto”, you are now an expert at whatever it is the manufacturers or publishers aim to teach.

For example, a woman sees a new food processor and believes she could cook like a chef with this new utensil.  If she always wanted a food processor, such a purchase would most likely benefit her.  On the other hand, if she never used one before nor ever needed one, this appliance will collect dust in her cupboard.

Another example may be a man who stumbles upon an iPad while shopping at an electronic store.  Though he never had the use for one, he can’t pass up this irresistible deal.  Maybe it could help him keep up to date with the newest gadgets on the market or make browsing online handy when he’s not at his computer.

Yet another example may be a mother who wants to teach her children more about animals, so she buys them educational videos on these subjects.  If her kids lose interest, these videos will add to the closet clutter.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great do-it-yourself tools and media packages out there, but they won’t change your life.  Only you can do that.  Doing so means dedicating long, hard hours with a great amount of perspiration, but even then, there’s no guarantee that this product will be a total success.  Not too many people realize this and therefore lose interest in them fast.  Sooner or later, these once glittering, shiny products end up sitting on closet shelves losing their luster and collecting dust.  Exercise equipment is another great example, especially if these contraptions can be handily stored under beds.

Myth 5:  I only want a few more things and I’ll be totally satisfied.

I’ve told myself that over and over again over the years, but something seems to keep coming up that makes me want to purchase something else.  Maybe it’s a new MP3 player, a particular shirt, a new computer printer, or what have you.  You’re thoroughly convinced that you need absolutely need this thing NOW or you won’t be totally satisfied.  Next thing you know, you’re out shopping for it and stumble upon other dazzling things on the way.

Sometimes it’s best to creatively make do with what you have rather than opt for the next best thing.  However, if you should buy this “thingy”, whatever it is, your need has been sated but soon you might realize you didn’t really need it after all.  Maybe it isn’t quite what you expected but you feel you have no legitimate reason to return it.  Next thing you realize, your budget is running low and you regret making that extra purchase.  Now what?  If only you held off a little longer, you could have gotten it when you could really afford it.  Remember, more than likely this extra thing you need will still be there a month or a year from now.  You can always get it then.

18 signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  • The main reason you get the daily paper is to see the ads.
  • You shop frequently on lunch breaks.
  • You’re never satisfied, you always want something more.
  • You turn to shopping because you’re bored or depressed and there’s nothing else to do.
  • Keeping up with the latest styles in anything is of utmost importance.
  • You love to impress others by showing them things you’ve recently purchased.
  • You arrange time to browse through stores while running errands.
  • You continuously observe what others have and become envious of them.
  • You’re not totally happy about your life and dream a lot about the type of person you’d like to be, or the lifestyle you like to live.
  • You measure your self-worth on what kind of possessions you have and judge others by things they own.
  • You’re very materialistic.
  • You continuously compare yourself to others.
  • Making the most of the holidays is extremely important to you.
  • Just to get the best deals, you’re willing to wake up as early as 5:00 am.
  • Standing in long lines for something doesn’t bother you.  If you must camp outside a store, you will.
  • Collecting complete sets of things is a big priority for you.
  • Your house is so cluttered it’s hard to walk around.
  • Clipping coupons and comparing prices in flyers seems to be a bigger priority to you than anything else.

Thank you for reading and I do appreciate your comments.  If would like to leave me a comment, tell me what you liked or disliked about this article.  If there’s something I left out or you disagree with, let me know.


I Hate Overly Long CDs

Cover of "Saturday Nights"

Cover of Saturday Nights

Growing up in the 1970s I used to listen to a countless number of records.  That’s the time when albums were short and sweet.  Almost all albums we had consisted of well-crafted songs that you would never suspect were made just to help fill up an album.

Songs on the more finely made albums seemed to have a common theme, like they all were meant to fit together.  For example, Elton John’s 1970s albums such as Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player, Honky Chateau, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Captain Fantastic, etc. each seemed to have their own unique setting, uniformity, or subject matter.   Hence, a song from Don’t Shoot Me… wouldn’t seem appropriate if it were on Honky Chateau or vice-verso.

Many artists’ albums seem to have their own theme as well. That’s the way I saw it anyway.  Maybe that was my imagination.

The Thrill of Buying an Album Disappeared

Buying or receiving record albums as gifts was such a thrill back in my teens.    Whenever I’d see a thin, square-foot item wrapped up with my name on it, or even just in a plain, brown, shopping bag, it was obviously a record.    When shopping for an album, especially a big seller, it seemed like I just had to have that album, as if it would change my life drastically for the better. If I didn’t get it right away, it was like, I never will in my whole lifetime.  I couldn’t wait to tear it open and play it.  And it was like I didn’t want to wait to hear it any longer than I had to.

During my teens, I spent a lot of time listening to records.  I liked music so much that I drove my siblings, mother, and friends crazy.  Yes, my brothers and sisters would razz me about the excited behavior I would display when getting an album.  Not only was listening to an LP fun, but checking out the artwork. Sometimes an LP would have a pleasant unique smell of its own, as if it was the cardboard or the inks used to make the pictures.  Following along with the lyrics was great, especially when you come upon a line that made you stop and say, “Is that what they’re saying there?”

Now, it is no big deal.  Why?  I feel this was a thrill I’ve outgrown.  Today, an album is just an album and you have to have some patience and open-mindedness to get to enjoy it.  No album will ever change my life, no matter how good it is.

LP’s Once Dictated an Album’s Content

Before 1985, most albums were still predominantly available on LP.  As we all know, the typical record holds up to 45 minutes worth of music or less, but sometimes a little more.  While some albums had as little as 28 minutes, the average I would say was between 33 and 36 minutes in length.

In the days of LPs, each artist had to have enough songs to fill whole disks-either produce a single album or a double album, but not an album and a half.  On some releases, a band might have had about an hour’s worth of songs, which was too many for one album and not enough for two.  Either the artists must ditch a few these songs or create more to fill a second disk.

When mixing greatest hits albums, the limitation of the LP created difficulties for some artists. For the more popular bands, a single album was barely long enough for all the material they wanted to include, but a double album was like, so long that they would have to throw in extra songs from somewhere just to fill it up.  Buying a 2 record set often meant paying almost twice as much as a single album, and the higher cost alone may lose many fans’ interest.  Therefore, many greatest hits releases crammed in almost an hour’s worth of music onto one LP, causing them to omit tracks and/or make shorter versions of their popular hits.

I could think of a few albums where time was a limitation.  For example, when Led Zeppelin released In Through the Out Door in 1979, the group had to leave out some songs.  Those excluded songs appear on their much later Coda album.  That same year, the Eagles released The Long Run which they wanted to be a double-album, but did not have enough songs.

Still, somehow, Deep Purple managed to make their release: The Deepest Purple (a greatest hits album) that clocks in at almost 64 minutes.  This was a single LP of 12 songs that held over an hour’s worth of music.  I never thought they could fit that much music on a single LP.  Add an extra three minute track to the Deepest Purple album and it will have a total running time similar to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street album (approx 66 min on a double LP set).  Strange huh?

Since the late 1980s, albums have expanded greatly in length.  Since the LP was dismissed, artists were free from its time limitations, especially since cassettes and CDs could hold more material.  Now, an album could be any arbitrary time length and can include exactly as many songs as the band chooses without major time restraints.  Still, this is not necessarily more entertaining for music listeners.

Short Albums Vs. Long Albums

However, the shorter albums had one little downfall: once a side of an album ended, it was time to flip it over.  Although each side typically held 15 to 25 minutes of music, the music seemed to last only a few minutes.  That meant that a listener had to stop whatever he/she was doing and flip the LP or tape over and continue playing the other side.  What an inconvenience that was.  Those who had record changers could listen to six albums at once, but before the days of auto reverse cassette decks, tape listeners had to stop to reload their players.

Over the last three decades, rock music has phased out as it has been replaced by R & B, rap, alternative, heavy metal, etc.  Without the restrictions of the LP, artists have been free to make their albums as long as they desired.  Since the 1990s longer albums have become a popular trend amongst musicians.  Hence, single albums over 25 years ago usually contained 8 to 12 songs, rarely ever more.  Now a typical album rarely contains less than 15 tracks and has an average playing time of 50 to 70 minutes.

Modern-day, long albums usually suck.  Just listening to one band play for over an hour becomes monotonous.  Trying to listen to some of these albums (or CDs), all in one sitting can seem to be torturous.  It’s like, if you want me to listen to an entire album you’ll have to tie me down to a chair.  The total material on some of these newer albums seems to be watered down and extra long.  When it comes to content, more is not necessarily better.

On the other hand, when you’re playing a game, working on a project, doing chores around the house, or what have you, you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you’re less likely to pay total attention to the music.  While that may seem to be OK with old albums, that still doesn’t justify the boredom and monotony of newer releases.  Instead of well-crafted tunes, some of these post 1990 albums contain some songs that were haphazardly thrown together with mediocre melodies and excessive instrumentation.  Even though you’re really busy, this music will tend to drive you nuts sooner or later.

Examples of Over-Long Albums

I don’t like to do any finger-pointing to upset my readers, but I feel the need to provide some examples.  In 2008 I purchased the Counting Crows Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings CD which rambled on for about an hour.  Toooooooooooo long.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the Counting Crows, but this album didn’t measure up to their earlier material.  I could never listen to that whole album in one sitting.  That’s just mental torture.

What’s with all these long albums anyway?  Does one musician make them just because all the others are doing it?  Are record companies motivating their bands to make long albums?  Is there a specific ploy somewhere that an album must contain over 55 minutes of music (if that’s what you wanna call it)?

Along with long albums in the early 1990s came another silly perk: 10 minutes of silence.  That means right before the last track begins, there is a long period of nothing, no sound at all.  I’ve had two CDs with this nifty little feature: Nirvana’s Nevermind and Cracker’s Kerosene Hat.  OK, I get to what I thought was the last song and instead of stopping, the CD continues spinning on and on.  Did the CD player not know the CD was over or is something wrong with the disk itself?

So I inserted Kerosene Hat into my portable CD player.  It gave me a listing of 99 tracks at 72 minutes and 51 seconds.  What?  Ninety-nine tracks?  Its label only says 15 as songs 13 and 14 are silent.  Whew, this CD has almost 73 minutes of music on it, but what’s with the 99 tracks?  Actually, there are only 62 minutes of material here, but that is still long.

What’s with the 10-minute silence before the last track?  Apparently, this has been done on other releases from the early to mid 1990s.  It’s just one of those perks that tells the listener something like, “Hey, there’s a hidden track at the end of the CD.  If you’re patient enough to wait for it, you’ll get to hear it.”  So what do you do during these 10 minutes?   Well, you can flick the track advance buttons or play something else in the background as you wait.

It’s like saying, there’s an extra room linked to your house that you may not know about.  The only catch is, you have to walk 10 miles underground to get to it.

OK, I could have made this post 10,000 words long but I didn’t.  I could have included a lot of petty details about excessively long albums and rambled aimlessly, repeating myself.  Would that make this article more interesting?  Absolutely not!  Who wants to read a ten page insert whose subject matter could be covered in two?  Nobody!  That’s how I feel about overly long albums.

The Damaging Remark

Have I Offended Someone?

Have I Offended Someone? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As humans we love to laugh or do things to just for kicks, but sometimes we take our silly efforts just a little too far.  When we don’t mean to offend the person we aim our toy dart at, we take it for granted they realize that we’re only kidding.  Unfortunately, what I’d like to refer to as the insultee (the target of the insult) isn’t always on the same page the offender is on.

Sometimes we would like to give another person feedback, but expressing the right words can be challenging.  Though we mean no harm, the recipient of our message may take what we say the wrong way.

In either case, our innocent little chat turns into a destructive insult.  Once the “blow” has been delivered, taking back what we said becomes nearly impossible, unless the offensive comment was dealt because of a misunderstanding.


People are basically sensitive and insecure to some degree.  Most everyone is likely to take everything they hear seriously.  Everything you say to someone is taken as nothing but information.  Also, we respond to all comments we hear as if they were commands.  We naturally try to do what we should do to make people happy and avoid offending them.  Because we truly want to do right all of the time, we take everything we hear seriously.

Delivering a carelessly misfired comment can seriously damage a relationship.  I heard it said, a friendship is created by many acts but destroyed by one.

Why We Insult Others

We crave excitement –   Doing the same thing day after day and behaving properly all the time becomes mundane.  Though we’ve been conditioned to always do right and mind our manners, we know that by being good or nice all the time will not reap us a reward in the end.  By giving others a “hard time” we can create a little excitement for ourselves and them too.

We become fed up  –  There are a countless number of things we dislike in others.  Examples of such things may be: the way people dress, poor hygiene, different personality types, cultural behaviors, others’ attitudes, habits, selfishness, smoking, those with physical flaws (as obesity), and the list goes on and on.  People think and act differently than we do which sometimes is hard to accept.  When we become fed up with differences between us and them, we emit insults just to vent the way we feel.

We seek approval from others – This is especially true in the workplace.  Some feel that to prove that we are worthy to their peers, will put others down to win their approval.  This is where gossiping comes in.  By acting as an information source, we aim to boost our own self-worth and make people believe we are on top of everything that is going on.  Once we earn others’ approval, this entices us to do it more and more.

We love to laughLaughing brings us excitement.  Making others laugh makes us feel clever.  We also feel better about ourselves.  Also, we tend to laugh about annoyances  in our everyday lives such as doing poorly on tests, getting chastised by superiors, lying about our bad habits, the destruction pets or children do, cultural behavior, etc, etc, etc.  Laughing is a free form of entertainment and an assuring way to brighten our day.

Why We Get Offended

There are numerous reasons why people get offended by some comments.  Each individual has their own unique collection of past experiences that shape their current ways of thinking along with unique personality traits.  Likewise, we had to deal with certain people who have their own flaws and quirks.  We’ve all made some really bad mistakes that often resulted in crucial damage.

Considering all these factors combined, we all have developed our “trigger points” or things that set us off.  In time we accrue a big collection of misfortunate events that when added together sum up to a negative image of ourselves.  When people say or do things that remind us of our misfortunes or faults, we then become offended.  That’s because the negative traits we learned about ourselves have been reinforced.

I can state numerous examples.   Girls who were molested and raped as kids are likely to become easily offended by others who act like their predators even in minor ways.  Children who were abused by their parents may be ashamed of their childhoods and be easily insulted by comments pertaining to child abuse.

People Are More Sensitive Now Than Ever Before

Over time, we’ve become a society that is quite eloquent at being sarcastic. Now there are even more idioms or figures of speech used to express specific types of people or certain kinds of events commonly encountered than ever before.  We’ve nearly modified the English language with a big collection of slang expressions and truncated words that adversely describe people or things.

We are also living in a society of declining morals and values.  People have become ever more freely inclined to express their inner feelings and desires.  Manners and respect for others have diminished greatly.  Respect for authority figures as the government, lawyers, or the police force has turned into combativeness or defiance.

As I see it, we are becoming a tired and overworked society that is fed up with others who benefit through their own greed or laziness.  Rather than making an honest living, some have developed unscrupulous strategies to become rich.  One great example is computer hackers.  They make using cyberspace tougher every day and ruin our peace of mind.  Sometimes we are tempted to do similar things to get ahead.

Unfortunately we can’t get ahead.  So what do we do?  We develop resentment towards those at the top, or the wealthy class in general.  We look up to them in jealousy, envy, and even hatred.  As a result, we feel insignificant and seek out ways to fight back.  One great example is insulting celebrities.  So we don’t have the musical talent or looks they do so what do we do?  Insult them.

At the same time, we live in a materialistic society where we can have whatever we want if we know how to get it.  We’d all like to become rich with as little as effort as possible.  We’ve been spoiled by all the modern-day conveniences and often refuse to live without them.   We’ll do anything to improve our standard of living.  Such examples may be cheating on our taxes or hurting retailers through stealing or deceptive merchandise returning tactics.  Everyone else does it, why can’t we?

Most of all, respect for our contemporaries has diminished.  We become selfish and inconsiderate.  Some cheat on their spouses while others take advantage of their employers.  Children defy parents or school authorities and may react in violence.  Sexual desires are more openly express now than ever before.

We freely speak our minds and act how we want to.  We are more inclined to put others down and do so on impulse.  It’s like, we aren’t happy unless we are constantly bashing someone, either in our minds or out loud.  As everyday life becomes harder for us, we tend to hurt the ones we love as a means of venting.

What does this all boil down to?  A ruthless, cutthroat society!   Because of this, insults are being flung around more than ever and people are treated rudely or unfairly.  Such behavior only leads to trouble.

With our quest for revenge and our thirst for wealth, many of us turn to the legal system, especially those who feel they’re potential targets of unfair treatment.  Women, senior citizens, the handicapped, and minorities have commonly been victims of discrimination and unequal treatment.   Adding sexuality into the equation, there has been an increased level of sensitivity in our society.

More than ever before, employers must carefully adapt policies to prevent abuse. People must be more careful about what they say and do to prevent offending others.   Advertisers and retailers must be careful on how they word their ads so there are no sexual or racial implications.  Those who feel they are likely to be maliciously treated become overly sensitive to things people around them say and do.

Emails have also become an offending means of communication.  Each message conveys a certain tone.  Although the sender of the message did not mean to be sarcastic, solemn, or angry, the recipient may believe it was meant to be. The two are definitely on different wavelengths.  Relationships at work have been damaged because of this.

If you must send someone an email, put in a few positive lines like, “How are you doing?”  or add a line of good news.  Tell the person that you appreciate their effort.  Just find something positive to mix in with your message.

Mopping Up the Mess

The damage we do to others is often far greater than we realize.  Though we only meant to make a funny or sarcastic remark, we see it in our minds that what we said was simply that.  Nothing more.  We assume the recipient of the comment will see it the same way, but that is not always so.

Typically, the recipient feels flattered or hurt by the remark.  The insultee will feel guilty as if she failed to deliver on an obligation.  She will also and believe that the person who made the remark see her as inferior.  She is then convinced that the offender intentionally meant to be cruel.  Her past experiences and flaws are likely to add to her anguish.  Her self-esteem will take a great blow as well.  The damage can penetrate far deeper than the insulter will ever know.

OK, the insulted party can be a male as well.

If the remark is not incident-related but about herself in general, she will become even more insecure than before.  She will wonder what she did or said that gave the insulter the negative impression.

After the damage has been done, it’s usually too late to say “I’m sorry.”  That doesn’t always get it. “I’m sorry” often sounds like flattery.  It’s kind of like being ignorant to the laws.  The worn out phrase, “I didn’t know….” will not likely let the offender off the hook.

If the insultee is a loved-one, the insulter can often make good on the situation, but there will be a period of resentment between the two that will take time to heal.  If the insulter admits he was wrong and attempts to make good, that serves as a great gesture.  Still this may not totally fix the damage caused.

OK, the insulter can be a woman too.

If the remark was made to a friend, relative, coworker, or other acquaintance, the damage may be worse.  Even if the offender resolves the problem satisfactorily, the hurt will not be entirely gone.  The offended will get over it, but their relationship may never be as strong as before.  This is especially true if the insultee never believed the insulter would ever do or say such a thing in the first place.  From now on, the offended will only act with caution to prevent this same situation from happening again.  She will brace herself from getting hurt again.  However, the bitter memory will always be there.

Practicing Damage Control

Think before you speak.  Plan to say what you need to say in a way that it won’t be taken offensively.   If you really want to tease someone just for a laugh, make it clear that you are only kidding.  You can do this by adding a chuckle to your comment or talking in a humorous tone.  Think about how your remark would affect one if really meant it.

Other damage prevention tips:

  • Limit your humor and kidding to someone you know will tolerate it.  If you have a good friend or family member that you both kid around with each other, then it’s OK.  If the person is a BS’er and loves to give you a hard time, you both can exchange silly remarks, but even then, try not to cut too deep.  If the person you’re bullshitting recently done something hurtful or embarrassing, like got a DWI, filed for divorce, got fired, etc,  avoid kidding about this subject.
  • Don’t kid people about personal flaws or bad habits, such as obesity or alcoholism.
  • Limit your kidding to your time at home or at a casual social event.  Refrain from kidding at family gatherings, special interest events, school, or work.
  • Kid only those that you personally don’t have anything against.  Make sure they know you would never deliberately say something to them to be cruel.
  • Try to be tolerant of others and don’t look down on them just because you disagree with something they do.
  • Don’t kid casual acquaintances unless you know they can take it.  When around relatives or coworkers, act politely and keep quiet about their flaws.
  • Don’t gossip or talk behind peoples’ backs.  If this kind of talk catches up with them, it could spell trouble for you and possible ruin a good relationship.  The offended party may no longer feel they can trust you.
  • Finally, remember the person you would like to razz is not necessarily on the same wavelength as you.
  • Don’t make derogative remarks about famous people, the president, races, religion, trends, peoples’ habits or behaviors, etc, especially in front people you don’t know.

Practicing good damage control techniques can save relationships and lots of grief.  Also, it can save you from singing the blues later.

COMMENTS ENCOURAGED.  Hopefully that covers it.  If there is anything I said wrong or left out please let me know.   Don’t tell me this post is good or bad, but why it is.   Thank you.


Positive Thinking – Part 3: What to Know Before Purchasing a Self-Help Course

money back guarantee

money back guarantee (Photo credit: lonely radio)

This article is NOT an advertisement for a positive thinking course.  I will not post a link that will bring you to a website selling you such a program.  I am not out to sell anything: just give you good advice and save you money and dismay as well.

Forms of Self-Help Programs

As you know, there are lots of self-help systems and books out there that promise a great transformation in your life by adopting positive thinking techniques.  Such courses promise success in your career, business, wealth, marriage, and overall happiness.

You’ll see them advertised in infomercials and hear testimonies of how people improved their lives by this course.  These infomercials are typically long and created to draw and retain you attention while playing on your conscience that by not trying their program, you’re throwing away a great opportunity.  Either you purchase their course or just go on living the fruitless life you’re living now.  Such courses are advertised indirectly through luring web advertisements that promise overnight changes for little or no money.

Hence, all you need to do is complete “our” course and BAM, you’re a brand-new person.  Right?  I would not make such an assumption!

On the flip side, I’m not saying they’re full of bogus information.  Every course touches down on good points such as making affirmations and adapting positive “self talk.”  However, before you can actually benefit from one of them, you must be willing to dedicate time for listening and put forth great effort on your behalf.

Meditation, Yoga, and Religion

There are other commercially sold techniques to promote positive thinking.  Some are based on meditation, yoga, or other exercise programs.  People will push religious materials at you as they promise overnight changes in your life.  They will ask you to read the Bible on a daily basis, attend weekly church services or studies, and preach the word to everyone you know, converting them to “born again Christians.”  I am not bashing religion, but it comes with no guarantees.  In fact, most of us naturally shun religion and its practices because while growing up we were conditioned to do so.  I suggest one reads the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.  It is widely available wherever books are available to the public.

These Courses Are Financial Traps

Frankly, they’re all just a waste of time and money, even the cheap ones.  Take it from me, I tried some when I was young and naïve and my life hasn’t changed.

Most of them come in the form of audio books with numerous tapes or CDs plus workbooks and DVDs.  Seeing their complete self-help kits on TV or on the web will make you think, if that amount of media is necessary to teach positive thinking, then this program has to be highly effective.

Some advertisements will display the price of their course on the TV screen.  If they don’t, this should raise a red flag that a bull can spot from a mile away.  Others will disclose a flat rate of say $99.  Then they’ll follow up with a prompt like: “Call in the next 10 minutes (or respond online by a certain date) and we’ll slash the price by 50%.  Next, they’ll offer to add in free supplements as additional books, CDs or DVDs “Absolutely Free!”

Don’t forget the “100% satisfaction money-back guarantee.”  This leaves most gullible consumers with the conclusion: “What have I got to lose?  I can always get my money back if I don’t like it!  I’ll try it.”

The trouble with money-back guarantees is they are for a limited time only and require a seemingly great amount of effort to act on them.  Not only is there the repackaging and sending the content back, some fear that their return will be rejected.  Still, some say they’ll try the course thoroughly but don’t or forget how long the trial period is good for.  With all the potential problems, many just keep the course and rarely, if ever use it.

So you call to order the $99 course mentioned above, thinking you’ll get it for $49 (plus taxes).  Right?  Wrong!   Once they got you on the line, they’ll make you feel like you’re doing a mighty great deed by trying their program and your life from this moment on is on the up and up.

Next thing you know, they’re making additional recommendations to supplement your course as in subscriptions to magazines, newsletters, listings of seminars to attend, etc.  Without them, the course won’t be fully effective.  If you’re not hard-nose enough to say “no” a hundred times or hang up, your cost of $49 turns into say $249.  Ouch!  You hang up the phone and ask yourself resentfully, “What the hell did I just do?”

Their sales team reps pray on people who don’t realize that all this information is already available at their local library.

Others are free local seminars or perhaps, webinars.  Though they are seemingly free, just wait until you get your foot into their door.  You’ll sit through a 3-hour talk session just to find out it ended with a recommendation to buy their program.  If you don’t buy it, you’ve invested 3 hours of sitting and listening-all for nothing.  Next thing you find out, the price of the program is astronomically high.  What do you do, whip out a “piece of plastic” (credit card) or just walk out.  I recommend the latter.

Why Positive-Thinking Courses Don’t Work

I’m not saying you can’t succeed at one of these programs.  They do offer great pieces of advice that you may never think of yourself.  Still, you must devote a lot of time and effort on your behalf to make their info work for you.  If you don’t do the work, you don’t reap the results.

However few people ever succeed for the following reasons:

  • We expect instant results: If we don’t see positive changes, right away we become impatient and abandon the program.   Although the advertisements profusely promised overnight changes, for few if any individuals, such changes come about.  What we don’t realize is that these changes happen over time.
  • The time commitment:  This may mean lying in bed for a few hours a day or meditating in a quiet place at home for 15 or 30 minute sessions where you won’t to be disturbed by the ringing of the phone, crying babies, the doorbell, etc.  You must lie down, close your eyes, breathe deeply, follow along with their sessions, and hope your daughter doesn’t suddenly barge in on you.  For most of us, our busy lives are much too busy to take on new activities.
  • Awkward activities:  For example, you may have to do therapeutic talk sessions with others.  This may require interacting with family, friends, co-workers, relatives, etc, that’s if you know very many people to begin with.  Those you do know are always busy, unwilling to change, or don’t believe in self-help programs period.  Most likely, you’ve had unpleasant experiences with family members and relatives which caused you guilt or remorse.  Thus, these people are hard to approach and likely to refuse to participate.  Friends and casual acquaintances are not willing to participate in such activities unless maybe you can sweet talk them into doing so.  Some may resent you for asking and think of you as another solicitor.  This just might damage a few relationships.
  • Self-consciousness:  Many of us naturally shun infomercials and the products they sell.  Others are strongly convinced that they are overpriced garbage.  Therefore, the individual who purchases the course must establish a mutual agreement with their significant other and others they respect.  They must agree that purchasing the course is financially feasible and well worth it and doing the activities will not interfere with others in the household.  Finally, the course will suggest its trainees to post notes and pictures around the house as reminders of keeping certain things in mind throughout the day.  These notes say things like “I am just as worthy as anyone else” or “Nothing in my past can affect me today”, etc.  For some, posting notes is not their style, especially for immaculate people.  Others may worry about what household members or visitors would think if they saw them.  For the self-conscious, such a practice may not be an option.
  • Unresolved emotional issues:  People who turn to these programs for help sometimes have unaddressed and unwanted emotions.  Some have pent up feelings of guilt or inadequacy that stems from rejection, failures, or mistakes, etc.  Feelings of anxiety, guilt, or worry have a nasty way of hanging on for years and cannot be dismissed at one’s free will.  Others suffer from depression, mood disorders, or adverse behavioral conditions that may stem from a natural chemical imbalance.  Self-improvement courses only make positive suggestions, but do not offer psychiatric advice.  Therefore, those with emotional problems must successfully undergo professional counseling before attempting to complete the course.  Nobody can sell you a solution to your emotional problems.  If you fail to seek treatment, your feelings will only hamper your progress in the course.
  • Change in attitude:  Attitude is essential in success, even if you’re not affected by any of the previous conditions.  Some may just get sick of the course after awhile or form opposing beliefs towards its content.  Such people are likely to make excuses as why it’s not feasible to complete the course or that they’re not the type of person it was intended for.  They will just abandon it and continue to live as they always have.

If you are absolutely serious about developing positive thinking habits, by all means go for it.  Rather than purchasing an online or TV course, resort to resources that offer free or low cost books or audio books on the subject.  This may be your local library or online.  If you feel you need professional help, don’t refrain from getting it.  Worst of all, don’t deny it.  If you have negative emotions pent up inside or lack of confidence, seek advice on how to deal with or remove them.  Research forums or other venues of information on those who have the same problems you have.  You may be surprised at what you find out.

Remember, money can’t buy you happiness.  Self-improvement courses are often overpriced and sold for profit only.  Not only are you paying for the materials, but you’re paying the overhead in producing and selling them.  That includes the costs of renting rooms in convention centers, traveling expenses incurred by the reps, TV advertising time, professional speakers, and all other affiliated prices.

All the publishers really care about is turning a profit-not how much (or little) their program benefits you. Pitching in for these expenses will never improve your outlook on life.  Why not check out a book on positive thinking at the library where you can read it for free?

Please feel free to comment on this blog.  If I said anything incorrectly or left something out, please let me know.  Genuine comments only please.

Panhandlers: To Give or Not to Give

English: Panhandler in Oceanside, California.

English: Panhandler in Oceanside, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They’re in most every big city these days: panhandlers. It seems like you can’t go downtown anymore without being greeted by at least one of them.  Needless to say, they degrade our cities and make life a little less pleasant for anyone who chooses to shop downtown.

You can even find them in the suburbs at the top of highway ramps or in parking lot exits.  Some will hold cardboard signs in big black letters.  Those downtown often sit on sidewalks or bridges, many with their heads tucked down between their knees, with signs and/or umbrellas.

Beggars hurt businesses in areas of heavy panhandling, especially shopping malls.  Overall, they can hurt downtown commerce as a whole because innocent shoppers fear they can’t walk the sidewalks or return to their cars without running into a panhandler.

There are different races of these people and of course all of them are usually dressed in dirty, ragged clothes.  These people are often referred to as bums, squatters, the homeless, etc.  You’ll usually hear them use the word “brother.”  Apparently, they’re insinuating that giving money to them is just like giving money to your brother.  Anyone I’ll never see again could never be my brother.

Another common phrase is “God bless you!”  Will God bless me?  I’ve heard it said in church many times: Whatever you give to another, God will give you that same thing 100 times back.  Later I heard that what you give must be a sacrifice to yourself.  Sure, anyone in this world will give you something if it is of no potential value to them.

Should You Give to A Panhandler?

What should you do if someone approaches you and asks for a small amount of money?  Should you give it to them or not?  Do they really need money or are they just putting on an act?  That all depends on how you view this particular person and the way they present themselves.  Once they receive money, many beggars slip into alleyways and buy drugs.  Even the dealers know that certain loyal customers are not homeless.

There are genuine panhandlers and there are scammers.   The genuine ones of course are homeless and absolutely need money to eat.  The scammers more likely aren’t homeless, but are looking for cash to buy booze or drugs or simply an extra income.  Usually, they will dress in ragged, dirty clothing to convince you that they are genuine.  Others do it just to see how much they can make as a second income.  On a bad day, successful ones make at least $20 while on good days, around $300.

I don’t like giving money to them unless they absolutely need it.  I’ve helped a number of them but then again, walked away from many others.  Once I handed them money, my feelings of being a good Samaritan turned into feelings of self-consciousness.  It was then I felt they played me for a chump.  Then I realize that they only do it because they know people will give them money.  Most of all, I hate the feeling of apathy most of them radiate.

Panhandlers often try to play on one’s conscience.  Some act really friendly as a potentially good acquaintance and others may try to make you feel sorry for them by making up some long story about how rough things are.  Once you’re approached by one, you are in a situation where you must think on your toes.  If you’re absolutely ruthless and maybe mean, you’ll have the gull to walk away.  However, if you’re kind and empathetic towards homeless people, you’re likely to give.  For those on the fence, walking away from one may make them feel guilty or selfish.

How do you know if one is genuine or not?  Usually, the real beggars look rather old and haggardly.  These people usually look real soiled and have wrinkled faces and long beards.  It’s best to stay away from clean-cut beggars, unless, perhaps they’re stranded somewhere and can’t get home without some money.  If you’re still unsure, it is best to just walk away or ignore them.

If you find that difficult, you can start by having a short conversation with them. You might ask questions like:

What do you need the money for?

Are you homeless?

How long have you been homeless?

Have you tried going to a homeless shelter?

Have you tried looking for work?

You need not get nosy, but if you can make them talk for a few minutes, you can find out more things about them.  However, they are likely to lie to make you feel sorry for them and become inclined to give.  Yet, others may not be good liars.  If one you chat with seems to run out of things to say or just walk away, more likely they’re a scammer.

Never make racial remarks to them or stereotype their mode of living.  Not all beggars are black.

I’ve met a few downright, not-so-clever scammers.  Some would try lines like “My car is on fire” but don’t act like it really is.  In fact I heard a smart-ass say this out loud on a bus and nobody responded.  Just by the tone of his voice I could tell that he wanted to see who would respond out of stupidity.    Maybe I should have put him on the spot by saying, “Oh yeah? Show me your burning car!”  Like hell their car is burning, it really doesn’t exist.

Where to Give

I’ll say it again, panhandlers beg for money mostly because they know there’s a very good chance that someone will give them some.  In the long run, giving money to them will never really help them.  You’re just helping them in supporting their squalor lifestyle and bad habits.  It’s just like helping someone live a lie.

If you truly have a heart and a chunk of money to spaer, give to a local Union Gospel Mission or homeless shelter.  Most cities have food shelves and charities that accept used clothing and other household goods, like the Salvation Army.  Especially around Christmas time, many charities as The Angel Tree advertise their services as malls have bell ringers who collect money in red pans.  Find out where these agencies are in your city and suggest them to each beggar.

By giving to these entities, you know that what you give will go for a good cause-not towards a drug or alcohol addiction.  Most of all, you can feel good about contributing.  You can deduct charitable contributions on your income tax return at the end of the year.

One final note, make sure that the organization you give to is legitimate.  Once you learn about their existence, check them out online to make sure they’re real.  If you’re confronted by a so-called rep, ask for a pamphlet or a business card.  If they have no documentation, don’t give.  Never give them cash outright, but write a check payable to that organization.

Please feel free to comment.  If there’s something I left out or you disagree with me, I would appreciate your input.

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The Public Bus: Is Taking the Last Seat Selfish?

English: I, user aardvarkage, took this pictur...

English: I, user aardvarkage, took this picture on Thursday, November 23, 2006 while riding the RTD light rail train. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When it comes to public transportation, everyone who has been using it for years has some kind of story to tell.  Either the freakin’ buses are late or they’re crowded with hooligans.  For some, buses only run on time during peak hours.  It’s much like Weird Al Yankovick’s “Another One Rides the Bus” song.  Well, really not that extreme!

I ride the light rail or city buses wherever I go.  Though people may complain about the Salt Lake City bus service, I never had any serious problems with it.  The buses always seem to come on time and the light rail trains arrive without any trouble.  That is if there isn’t a ton of snow that nearly buries the tracks or if the electricity doesn’t go out causing the train to stall for who knows how long.  Even worse, if there’s no announcements stating why it stopped running everyone is left in frustration sitting on a stalled train.

Anyway, it goes without saying that during rush hour the trains and buses are crammed with people.  Right before the evening rush most seats are occupied with only one person, but there are maybe one or two seats completely empty.  If there is only one empty seat left and I board the train alone, am I selfish for taking the last empty seat?

I feel like I doing that can be a curse.  It’s like eating dinner with friends when towards the end of the meal there is one last piece of meat remaining on the serving plate.  Should you take it without asking anyone else if they want it?  The truth is that everyone will glance at it, but nobody will touch it feeling it is uncouth to snatch it up.

If you’re courageous you can ask if anyone wants it.  Most likely, everyone will say “no” to avoid the chance of depriving your wish-to eat that last pork chop, steak, or whatever it may be.  You know one thing for sure: it will get thrown out or stored in the refrigerator so why not take a stab at it?  Nobody really will and the host will do whatever she wants to do with it after everyone excused themselves from the table.

I often leave the sole empty seat alone and just sit next to someone.  By doing this I get a kick out of watching people get onboard just to see who will grab it and in most cases, the next boarder usually does.  Still, my consideration goes out to a mother with her children or a group of friends who like to sit together and chat or perhaps someone who is toting home a few bags of groceries.  If I’m the only person in a four-seat section, I will gladly move to allow a group of people to all sit together.

As for riding on a light rail train, when you’re seated, you’re either traveling forward or backwards.  Does it really matter?  You will get to the same place just as fast.  Still, most riders would rather travel forwards.  Because each train travels in either direction you’re often stuck sitting within a set of seats that face each other.  If all the seats are full, just be careful not to stare at those facing you.

Regardless of how full or empty the train is you’ll get that announcement, “Be considerate of others.  Please don’t put your feet on the seats!”  I still do, unless of course someone is sitting opposite of me.  It’s extremely bad to do if your shoes are dirty or wet from the rain and you soil or dampen the seat for the person who will have to sit there.

Then there are those who transport their bicycles on trains or buses.  It’s so nice to have the pull-down racks where you can place your bike in the grooves and slide the bar over the front wheel.  The only glitch is if someone has their bike on the outer groove making it really hard to put yours on the inner one.  Worse yet, you wait for the bus and it finally comes, only to find that the bike rack is full.  “Oh s***!” is all you can say.

Sometimes the bus driver will let you take your bike onto the bus, if it’s full, but man that is a pain in the “you know where.”  Then you have people trying to walk past you without clipping their heels on your pedals and that creates a nuisance.  It can be painful for passengers if they’re not careful.  Thank god, it’s much easier rolling your bike onto a train, especially if its floor is at ground level.  If it has stairs, just let your bike lay in the staircase where the doors will not be opened and pray you won’t come to a station that is accessible from either side.

As for buses, if you tow a bike, some drivers give you a card and some don’t.  Why is that?  It all depends on the guy behind the wheel.  Those that don’t, you just have to alert them when you get off by saying something like this: “I will need a few minutes to remove my bike!”  Some take offense as if they’re being treated like an idiot while others are cool about it.  The last thing you need is the driver to pull away the moment you step off that bus with your bike still on the rack or worse yet, an inattentive driver running your over as you try to retrieve it.   Neither has happened to me yet.  Thank god!