Over the past two years, I have noticed bums in parts of Boise that heretofore had no bums. They carry signs that say clever things designed to instill some guilt and elicit charity from motorists. Some bums hold entire scripts. Like a blog and always on cardboard.
Boise has made some efforts to crack down on the bums. They tell motorists to give to organized charities rather than the bums. Maybe there is a little old lady that still believes that cardboard propaganda- but I think most of us know that our money is going for booze and smokes. Food they can get for free.
Yesterday, I was driving down Chinden Boulevard which is primarily in Garden City. This is where most people go to get their drugs. All of the sudden, near one of the biggest intersections in town, I see traffic cones everywhere. Lo and behold, there were city bums (firefighters) holding rubber firefighting boots walking in and around cars, in some annual "fill the boot" campaign. People were giving them money like there was no tomorrow.
I scowled at these assholes. When I pandered for money, at least I did so in person on behalf of a memorial. I did not stand out in traffic, running around with a giant holster. The truth is, annoyance aside, I think placing debris on a highway and obstructing traffic are still against the law. But laws were meant to be broken as long as the cause is virtuous.
So if employed firefighters begging for money isn't bad enough, I was driving thru downtown Boise today when I saw 5 or so people holding placards. They were soliciting money for soccer balls for impoverished youth in Zambia or some crazy place. I couldn't believe it.
Turning them down was easy. I hate soccer.
About a week ago, I talked with a bum at our Winco Grocery store. I watched as he took the cardboard from his wife. This is called shift change in the new America. I watched as she handed him two bucks. They were apparently rotating every hour while they study for college or something. So at any rate, he shook his head and said all she had gotten for an hour's worth of work was 2 bucks. (Well, I thought...that is all she handed you...) He complained about how miserly people were getting.
I told him things were tough, that there was a river of busted people. He fired up a smoke, a Camel I noted, and we chatted about the economy and the weather. Little did he know that he was talking to a major big time blogger. He told me how unlucky he had been which always has had a profound effect on me. It causes me to become extremely grateful. I started to like this guy and feel sorry for him. I asked him where he got the smokes and he misunderstood me, he offered me one. I told him I quit and that I simply couldn't afford them anymore. This of course kicked off a ten minute speech about how hard it is to quit- yea I know- and he mentioned how hard it was to quit especially when times were tough. I understand that. So when I reached into my pocket for the two bucks I knew was in there from the grocery store, I asked him to do me a favor and buy some smokes. He smiled.
I like to know where my money is going. Interesting to note- that more than 1/2 of the price of a pack of smokes is now combined state and federal tax. Seems people still enjoy paying taxes, so much so, that they are willing to stand at a busy intersection and do it all day long.