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Thursday, August 23, 2007

How the 'haves' relate to the 'have-nots'

Last night as we rolled out of left one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan (Le Marais) we had to pass the outstretched hand and beseeching eyes of a beggar. 

Now, from a purely strategic standpoint, a beggar couldn't pick a better spot to set up shop.   Think about the locale... very upscale mid-town steak house...  a steady stream of mostly Jewish patrons who, despite lots of practice, have never gotten completely comfortable with their relative affluence ... most of whom have just dropped the equivalent of a Brooklyn studio apartment's rent on dinner... suddenly faced with a poor unfortunate pan-handler who, whether Jewish or not, is mouthing all the right buzz-words (tzedakkah...  hesed ... shabbos...etc.).

Our big kids immediately assumed that we would give the shabby woman something and dutifully paused next to her.  But my wife and I were not in complete agreement about whether or not to give.  One of us was ambivalent, not being sure that the woman was even Jewish... and the other was outraged that a beggar would set us shop in such a location since it was obviously a transparent attempt to play on the above-mentioned Jewish guilt at being momentarily well-sated... and fairly firmly entrenched among the 'haves'.

I may tell you how it all played out at the end of the comment thread... but for now, I'm curious to hear if any of you have thoughts one way or the other about what I've described.

Posted by David Bogner on August 23, 2007 | Permalink


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Jordan, I like you comment.

Posted by: jaime | Aug 26, 2007 8:15:34 PM

Me: I am alternating between yelling at my computer...

Jack: Has the computer responded? Because if it has we need to talk. ;)

No, not yet... Last night I thought it was talking back... but then I realized it was just my wife telling me that it was 2:00 AM and I really needed to step away from Treppenwitz and just go to sleep already...

Posted by: wogo | Aug 26, 2007 8:45:33 PM

What an interesting thread of comments.

Posted by: The Misanthrope | Aug 29, 2007 3:38:48 PM

The missus and I are not in agreement, either, as in her profession (forensic psychology) she meets many people who have made a 'handsome' living with the old cardboard-sign-at-the-intersection trick.

My general rule is to give via local churches, and also: if the person has little or no teeth and a wasted appearance, her in California that indicates likely meth or 'crack' addiction. I don't know why it loosens the teeth, but there it is.

Sad that there are so many 'unnecessary' beggars, impacting the attitudes towards the 'necessary' ones.

Mexico is also a nice (!) place to go if one wants further education in actual beggary.

Posted by: wrymouth | Aug 30, 2007 12:08:34 AM

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