Spaulding Bogosian

Not as political as the Other A-Holes, but yet the kind of Funny Meanderings of a Jersey Guy

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Homeless Etiquette

I’m not what you would call a small guy, but I’m not really big either. So why is it that people come up to me and try to get my attention by calling me things like “Big man”. This seems to be most prevalent among black pan handlers. White panhandlers stick with the much more tolerable “Hey buddy”. When ever I walk down the street in a large city and someone wants to hit me up for money, they start their pitch with, “hey big man can you…” I also get “boss”, which is not really offensive per say, but still, I am not their boss and if I was, I would probably fire them. I also get “chief” a lot, which I guess is kind of like “boss” but with the Native American flavor thrown in for no reason. Just where do people use a word like “chief” in every day life? I guess there are fire department chiefs, and chief financial officer, and the ever popular chief of police. The one thing that all these "chiefs" have in common is that they rarely interact with people that are down on their luck. Except for maybe the chief of police, and in that case I would think most pan handlers would shy away from contact with them. So why do they address me this way? Do they think I’ll be more receptive to giving them money if they call me names that assume I’m large or their superior. I think it’s a bad approach. The other day I went to the movies in a suburban mall, not usually the place you encounter pan handlers. An African American woman approached me with a clipboard and said, “Hey big man I’m trying to get money to go to college.” Now I count at least three things wrong with this picture, 1) There is no way to pay for college with spare change 2) What’s with the clip board? Was she going to take down my name and send me a thank you note or something, perhaps invite me to graduation and give me a special shout out for the buck I threw her? And 3) she called me “big man”, I don’t like that. If you’re going to give me and adjective while asking for a handout make it complementary. How about, “hey lover” or “hey handsome”, perhaps they could appeal to nostalgia and use “shiana punim”. Who cares if it’s true, you’re asking for money! A guy wouldn’t walk up to a woman at a bar and say “Hey big girl can I buy you a drink?” The only time I want to hear a woman call me big man is if my pants are down. And even then I might question her motives.

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