Monday, February 23, 2009

I've been thinking about begging for money... not me personally, though a few extra bucks would be nice. No, I mean others I witness begging for money. It's hard for me not to think about it when everyday on my way home from work the same guy (who is clearly employed, considering he's always dressed in different jeans and tops with a construction vest and hat) asks if I can spare $3.75 for his train ride. I don't get it... if you can't afford to take the train everyday, then don't. I don't know how he expects to get $3.75 from people EVERY DAY and count on it to get to and from wherever it is he's going/coming from. And I don't know what it is with me, but I'm always the only one I notice him asking. If I say no every other day, I'm going to say no today too. I'm sorry, but when you beg like this you get no sympathy from me. True, I don't know his story. True, considering I only see him asking me it may be some pathetic way at trying to talk to me (haha... trying to get someone's attention by begging them for money). But still, I don't sympathize with him.

So this made me think about effective methods of begging. In my short 22 years on this here planet I've come across dozens and dozens of beggars. Some are definitely more effective in their technique and are more likely to get mine (and probably others) money... even if it's only some of the change that's loose at the bottom of my purse. (SIDE NOTE: please people, don't get all PC on me here and declare me a horrible person for discussing this the way I'm about to or even for just the topic of the blog. Sometimes it's the overly PC people who get on my nerves more than those who are close-minded and just completely speak their point of view. Obviously, I'm also speaking humorously about this here... and don't get all "it's not something to joke about" on me either. Quick vent. Anyways...)

So like I said, the guy at the train station everyday who is clearly employed and asks for money everyday will not be getting a penny from me. I do not sympathize with him whatsoever. Also, if you're on the side of the road with a sign or a bucket for money 99 times out of 100 I wouldn't give you a penny either. Call me whatever you want, but I can't help but wonder if the money they get goes straight to drugs or alcohol... and there's no way I will help fund that. I would be more than willing to buy them some food, but after one time when I bought a pizza for someone with a "will work for food" sign and had it thrown back in my face, that isn't likely to happen now either. I won't provide money... I will provide food... but now I have a constant fear that it will come across the wrong way or won't be appreciated, so I don't give food either.

So what does work? Let me just say I had one case that was incredibly sneaky (at least to a non-world wise girl like myself) but clever enough that I didn't feel at all apprehensive about giving away a couple of dollars to the guy. I was in Chicago, by myself. I had just gotten a cab from the airport to the train station. The minute the cab pulled up to the train station someone opened the trunk and took out my bags... before I was out of the car. My gut instinct was that it was being stolen but when the cab driver acted as if this was entirely normal and I noticed the person wasn't running off with my luggage I relaxed. When I got out of the cab the person didn't ask IF he could carry my bags for me, he just asked "Will you be traveling with Amtrak or via the local trains, miss?" and I responded and he politely asked me to follow him. I didn't catch on to his scheme at all. I was thinking he was like... hired by the city of Chicago and that Chicago was just a much nicer city than any I had been to before. While he carried my bags he chatted with me very politely. When I got to where I had to be he handed me my bags and... well, to be honest I don't remember if he said something, paused and didn't leave, or held out his hand, but whatever it was it was clear to me he was looking for some type of a tip. Only then did I realize he was probably just some guy living on the streets looking for extra cash. But because he did something for me and was very polite, I didn't mind giving him a dollar. Probably everyone else would have seen through this instantly, but I didn't... and I don't mind.

You're also more likely to get something from me if you offer something in exchange... street performers, people who sell ANYTHING (you could even sell dandelions for $1 and I would buy them for the effort). Don't push it on me, like those people you see in the movies who start washing your car as you pull up to a stop sign. But if you make an effort, I'll spare some change.

If you can somehow manage to afford one really nice outfit, it would probably be a good investment. Only because people are MUCH more willing, I feel, to give to those who are not homeless, not hungry, but just forgot their wallet at home and are looking to get a train ticket so they're not stranded. Think about it, a guy who's dressed nice comes up to you and apologizes right away and says he's embarrassed that he just realized he's short by $2 to get a ticket... you're more likely to believe him and give him the money.... because he's not some "crazy homeless beggar" (I swear, I didn't mean that to be mean... just trying to explain the extreme of what people might think. Here's where the PC warning really comes into play). I was even in this situation once as the beg-ee. Granted, it probably helped that I was a teenager and obviously scared out of my wits but still.... I took the T in Boston for the first time, completely alone. And stupidly, I only brought exactly how much money I needed. Well, I didn't transfer at the right spot and ended up at the end of the line... which line I don't know, but I was way off. I needed $4 to get back to where I was supposed to be. It was nighttime, nearly empty and I was freaking out. My plan was to go up to different groups of people who seemed approachable and ask for the $4, explaining the situation. I only had to ask one person. See what I mean? If you were able to pull off faking this type of situation as a beggar I bet you'd make lots of money. It's not honest, but it's effective.

Speaking of not honest, on this really lame TV show I watch, even though it's awful, contestants had to come up with the best new outfit when only given $15. Some of them went up to people on the street and said they were raising money for a charity and then used the money to help them get a better outfit. If you can pull of this situation as a beggar, it's even more dishonest but even more effective. Or you could always pull children into it somehow. Get them to do the begging for you, pretend you have a kid, etc etc.... children make people want to give money. According to Slumdog Millionaire blind children who sing work best.

There are certain methods of begging that are more effective. Basically, the more dishonest you are or the harder you try to give something back the more likely you are to get others' money. This blog is pretty shameful, but it's what my imagination ran away with, thinking about my Stamford train guy. So I shared.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm not going to lie... I cheated in order to find inspiration for this blog. Truth be told, nothing really amusing has happened to me lately. It's rather depressing. So, I decided to google "funny things that happen to everyone" to see if I found something interesting to blog about. (It's so pathetic that I've come down to googling for blog ideas. Where did all my insightful creativity go? Slash what happened to all the interesting things that used to happen to me?)

So in my google quest I found a website entitled "Funny Things You Shouldn't Laugh At But Do Anyway". Somehow it had two titles and was also called "18 Things Everyone Finds Hilarious But Shouldn't". I want to know how they earned a two-title fame. So here was the list.... my comments slash random tangents are interspersed in orange. Of course they're in orange.

1. Ugly babies
Now, maybe I just haven't been around enough babies because I try to avoid them as best I can... but I don't recall ever seeing any ugly babies. I know, I know... "all babies are beautiful". But to me, all babies are terrifying. When they're really young they don't talk, but you can tell in their eyes they are taking everything in and they're working extra hard to absorb everything and gain attention and love... this may be wonderful to most people but the fact that these are little people, observing you unashamedly and unable to talk completely freaks me out. It's like young children (fully capable of speech at this point) who will turn and just look at you... some people enjoy making faces at them to get them to smile, while I just want to coldly stare them down until they're afraid and look away. I hate staring. Back to babies, when they're older they're just crawling, noisy tornadoes. I don't know how to act around babies or children. They're like an odd necessity before you become a real person. It may surprise you to know that I actually want a large family and several children. What can I say, I'm a conundrum. Now that I wrote it, I don't think that word pertains to people.... let's change it to enigma. Anyways, even though I'm not a fan of babies or children, I don't laugh at ugly babies, so there's a positive to offset the negative. Next!

2. People who walk with something heavy in one hand and have to lean really far the other way to balance themselves.
It's funny, but the familiarity I have with this statement is only because it so often pertains to me being the one walking lopsided. I never notice others walking with something heavy in one hand and having to lean really far the other way to balance themselves. And I'm a ridiculously observant slash people-watching kinda person. Am I missing out on something funny here by never being on the spectator side? I'm a bit relieved now to know others laugh at me when I look like this... it's oddly more securing to know it rather than wonder hmmm... are people staring at me and chuckling to themselves?

3. When someone turns around and goes back the same way they were coming.
Okay, here's another one. I do this constantly, but I rarely notice others doing it. Actually, what I do when I realize I'm walking the wrong way is keep walking that way for a bit, stop and pull out a cellphone, pretend to call someone, pause while it's "ringing" and then casually start strolling back in the other direction as if I'm just walking around while on the phone... even though no one is on the other line and it's just a way of turning around without being so obvious (or maybe it's overly obvious, hah). Or I'll do the opposite and make it ridiculously obvious... I'll do like a mime move of "Oh my gosh! I completely forgot something and have to go back!" so that it's more of a sympathy thing than an odd embarassed person turning around. I'm so bizarre.

4. Cops riding anything except police cars: Bikes, Bicycles, Boats, and especially Horses.
Here's the first one I can somewhat agree with. Cops on bicycles or horses do make me laugh. It's like... what's the point? Do horses really make police escapades more efficient? And bicycles ring in as something childish and slow. You've got the shiny car with the twirling red lights you so often abuse to speed by people when there's no emergency. Use it! And I've never seen a cop in a boat but that would be very amusing. Especially if they were behind the steering wheel... or sitting in the crow's nest with a telescope.

5. People who say stupid things but really mean them.
You mean genuinely stupid people who aren't just sarcastic? I don't laugh at them because I am often that person. I don't mind people laughing at me with that stuff though... I've come to terms with my stupidity. Just yesterday I asked someone if a BB gun was like a paintball gun or a cap gun or a real gun. I heard a news story about a father shooting his son in the bum with a BB gun and didn't understand why it was such an issue. I thought it was a child's play thing. Don't worry... I won't buy your child a BB gun, or shoot him in the bum with one.

6. Girls that wear belts that have no function and are not even attached to anything.
Okay, I've done this, we've all done this. Sometimes it's about fashion and not about practicality. No use in laughing about it unless it looks utterly ridiculous. Which sometimes it does.

7. Cats wearing clothing
I laugh at dogs wearing clothing. Any animal wearing clothing is amusing and ridiculous. Let's not limit it to cats.

8. People who animatedly sing in their car.
This I am 110% guilty of. My car time is my vocalization time and I don't care how loud or animated I am. I secretly wish that someone will hear me and think it's a CD I have and not me singing. I'm sure I've been caught, both visually and auditorially. I flatter myself by thinking they're more impressed than amused. I'm sure it's not true. I sound so freakin full of myself. hah

9. Fannypacks.
They're amusing, of course. However, I rather admire people who use them because they don't care that they're amusing and "went out of style" 20 years ago. I see a fannypack on a hip and smile at the person... they're too cool for school.

10. Guys who drive with their shirts off.
This is always amusing in one of two ways... if they're attractive and muscular it's clear they know it and want to show it. And if they're not then they're usually a mix-breed of the trucker/hick variety and frankly... they're feeling the heat from the sun and don't care what hangs out to gain some more comfort.

11. When you tell someone to watch out and they don’t.
This would be amusing if I told people to watch out. But I prefer to say nothing and then laugh when the inevitable happens. One word-- schadenfreude.

12. People who have full protective gear on when they ride a bicycle or rollerblade (kneepads and everything).
This IS funny. It's funny to me to see just a helmet even though I would always wear one and I know it's the law. It just screams "I'm on the lookout for anything bad to happen to my head!". My ultimate favorite though is people who wear helmets with a headlight on it, a la a miner, when walking at night. Or during the day when walkers wear the bright orange, construction worker vest thing with reflectors. I love it. Keeps me young.

13. When you catch someone talking to themselves.
This is also funny, but unfortunately I'm often on the other side of this one too. I'm a compulsive self-talker. The worst is sometimes I'll be singing a song in my head and then one of the words will come out... so it appears like I just sang a random word. This is most likely to occur in my otherwise silent office. I try to play it off my coughing afterward. It doesn't work.

14. Stupid car horns.
Like horns that play a tune when you hit it? That would be awesome! I've never heard one in person, but I'm sure I would be completely envious rather than filled with laughter. I really enjoy obviously nerdy things. Now, if we're not talking tunes... if we're talking like Little Miss Sunshine horn that doesn't stop, that's just annoying. It might get to the point where it's so ridiculous that you laugh at it before remembering it's really just annoying and not all that funny.

15. Clowns and mascots. Not because they are funny, but because they are sad.
I can relate to this one. The people behind the clowns and mascots are making a fool of themselves for attention when they know the truth is that no one enjoys them anyways.

16. When someone turns around to say something to the person they are with and find that they aren’t there anymore.
God, I wish I witnessed these things more often! Why am I always the one doing these awkward things instead of getting to see and laugh at them! I would probably laugh at this. If one of my friends will purposefully do this next time I'm around, I would appreciate it. I want to know if I'd find it funny.

17. Anytime someone runs into something
This is always funny. Probably the only one on the list that makes you violently want to laugh out loud, and the one of the list that it would be least appropriate to do so. I constantly find myself in a situation where minutes afterward I'm still trying to bite my lip to keep a laugh from spilling out. Here's another place where sometimes I can't help it and then I try to cover it up with a cough. Know that I very rarely genuinely cough. It's quite often an attempted cover.

18. The plural of "salami"
Okay... I did not know the plural of salami so I proceeded to look it up. I got three variations. One place said "salami" was both singular and plural. I agree with this. It's what sounds correct. Another site said "salami" was the plural form of "salame" while the last said "salami" was singular and "salamis" was plural. I don't know what to believe. But I don't find any amusing.