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Panhandled in Recall City: We’re all in this together

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By Marc Munroe Dion.

The panhandler came up on the passenger side of my truck in the dark parking lot of a liquor store where I’d gone to buy two nips of Irish whiskey. I didn’t see him coming, so I jumped a little when he rapped (softly, politely) on the window.

I turned my head quickly, and he was standing next to my truck, a medium-sized guy in a hoodie, and he had both hands above his head, palms toward me, like a cop in an old movie had just told him, “Put your hands up!”

“I didn’t mean…” he started as I opened the door.

“That’s alright,” I said, laughing. “I just didn’t see you coming. I must have jumped six inches.”

“I didn’t know…” he started again.

“It’s alright,” I said. “I’m not afraid of who you are. You just scared hell out of me.”

Recently, it was announced that the FBI/HUD/IRS investigation of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia has produced over 18,000 pages of documents. In addition, more than 4,000 signatures calling for a recall election have been certified.

Big numbers, although if you add ‘em up, it’s still not as big a number as the amount of investor money Correia is alleged to have bilked out of investors in his flop of an internet company.

“Excuse me,” the guy in the hoodie said, which is an odd thing to say when you’ve just scared the hell out of another man and he’s laughing. “I’m kinda homeless…”

I’m not sure what the difference is between “kinda homeless” and “homeless,” but anything that causes you to panhandle in liquor store parking lots can’t be good, so I put my hand in my pocket, and found a dollar bill, one of seven.

I’m not one of those guys who gets panhandled and says to the panhandler, “I work for my money.” Hell, he KNOWS I work for my money. That’s why he thinks I have EXTRA money.

I’m also not one of those guys who tells a panhandler, “I won’t give you money, but I’ll buy you something to eat.”

Anyway, we were standing in a liquor store parking lot. If I went inside and bought him some nourishment, the best I was likely to do would be a bag of beef jerky, a jar of olives, and a bottle of Bloody Mary mix, things which don’t mix well in the stomach on a cold night.

“I ain’t gonna buy no drugs…” the panhandler said.

“I don’t give a damn what you buy,” I said.

I’m not one of those guys who gives a panhandler money, and says, “Don’t spend this on drugs.” I believe that once I give someone money, it’s not MY money anymore, and they can buy whatever they want. People give me paychecks all the time, and I buy what I want. Besides, I was on my way into a liquor store to buy whiskey, so I couldn’t take the high ground.

Maybe the guy was lying. Maybe he bought drugs with the money. Maybe he thought kindly of me later that night when he dug the needle into his arm. All I know about that is I’ve worked for plenty of people who used the proceeds of my labor to send their jackass kid to private school. I don’t always expect things to turn out for the best.

“God bless you,” the panhandler said as he took the dollar.

Panhandlers say “God bless you” the way politicians say “I love Fall River.” Don’t expect either one to make much difference in your life.

All I really know is that, in a dark parking lot, far away from the FBI and the promises of “moving the city forward,” charity is asked for, and given or refused, as the night air turns colder.

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