Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Don't help me; I just want your money.

Cleveland. I'm walking from the Federal Building to my hotel, and I cut through the Colonial Arcade. The Colonial Arcade is home to a fitness club, a Segway dealer, a tarot card reader, a couple of art galleries, a Chinese restaurant... and panhandlers.

I'm not sure what it is about Cleveland, but of all the cities I travel to, Cleveland has the most and the most aggressive pan handlers of anywhere.

I'm walking through the Arcade, my mind diligently on work, when I hear someone call out, "Excuse me sir." I turn and there is an older gentleman; he says, "Could I have a couple of bucks to buy some food."

Food, I think. I'm thinking of the chana masala from Royal Saffron around the corner, but there's the Chinese place, and they have a decent curry. I offer to buy him a meal at the Chinese place. "It's too much," he says.

"Too hot?" I ask.

"No," he says. "It costs too much. I just want a sandwich from Wendys or McDonalds."

So, let me get this straight. I'm offering to pay for a meal. He doesn't want it because it costs too much?

"Sir," I say. "I'll buy you meal at the Chinese place."

He looks askance at me before saying, "No, thank you."

Hmm... Perhaps I suspect he wanted the money... so he could buy booze or drugs... and he wasn't really interested in food?

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