General chatter - Maybe I should have helped her?

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06-05-2011, 05:43 PM
Last night, as my 11 yr old daughter and I were leaving a restaurant, a woman approached us in the parking lot and asked me if I could help her get a room.
She started rambling about her father was a drug addict and he had a prostitute at his house and she had hitch-hiked to get away from him and she'd called the cops.
I just told her that I couldn't help her and grabbed my daughter's hand and walked to our car.
It was obvious to me that she was on drugs from the way she was rambling and she had prescription drug bottles in her hand.
However, afterwards, I felt guilty and thought maybe I should have helped her?

What would you have done? :?:

06-05-2011, 05:46 PM
I would have done just as you did. She is a panhandler.

06-05-2011, 05:48 PM
In this situation I would have done the same as you. You can't put yourself and your daughter at risk trying to help someone who obviously has problems that cannot be mended with a night in a hotel.

06-05-2011, 05:50 PM
I would of done the same thing.. :(

06-05-2011, 05:50 PM
The only thing different I might have done is phone the police after safely away from the area.

06-05-2011, 06:21 PM
I would have done the same thing, people helping someone on drugs just makes it longer until they can finally hit rock bottom and hopefully finally get their life on track.

06-05-2011, 07:28 PM
I would have told her where a homeless shelter/free meals were in the area if I knew, and not given her anything. I volunteer with feeding the homeless, but would not give a homeless person money.

06-05-2011, 10:12 PM
I would have ignored her and kept moving. You did the right thing. Protect yourself. It's not that I don't have compassion, but you can't save or help everyone. Or be expected to. And sometimes, no matter what help is given or offered, the lifestyle will not change.

06-05-2011, 10:49 PM
That's one of the oldest scams in the book (right next to "My car broke down and I live in the 'burbs, can you help me out", "I need Pampers for my baby" and the oldie but goodie "I'm trying to get back on my feet and I'm in a transient hotel with my child but we're going to get put out tomorrow, can you spare $20?). So yeah, you did the right thing.

06-05-2011, 11:20 PM
You did the right thing, INCLUDING talking to her directly and telling her you can't help. You have no idea if she's lying or not, but she's a human being obviously with significant problems and you have no idea how much acknowledging her presence and talking to her with respect helps a person like that, mentally and emotionally.

06-05-2011, 11:41 PM
Your first job as a mother is to protect your child from possible harm...

you did that!

06-05-2011, 11:43 PM
I seriously saw a guy two days ago talking on his cell phone while holding a sign that he needed money. Uhm, priorities??? You can't eat then you really can't afford a phone!

I would have done as you did, or maybe called the police dept. I would not have given her money or a room. There are shelters for that.

06-06-2011, 12:00 AM
I do give the guy at the 7-11 in Beverly Hills change for coffee every now and then at 4:30am....

But then he is entertaining....he talks for hours to the Red Box outside the store....political....entertaining...sad...but entertaining...

06-06-2011, 01:04 AM
You def did the right thing. You had your child there and the last thing you need is to get mugged, which def could have happened. We always tell our kids not to talk and interact with strangers and that just gave her a good example of the right thing to do. You have no reason to feelguilty.

I have to say, I have been one to give money to two certain homeless people near where I used to live on my way to work...

06-06-2011, 01:10 AM
You did the right thing, INCLUDING talking to her directly and telling her you can't help. You have no idea if she's lying or not, but she's a human being obviously with significant problems and you have no idea how much acknowledging her presence and talking to her with respect helps a person like that, mentally and emotionally.

I agree. Sometimes, it can make all the difference in the world.

06-06-2011, 01:28 AM
You definitely did the right thing! Don't feel bad about it. @Ursula the federal gov't provides free cell phones with 250 mins a month to low income people if you receive food stamps or meet some other criteria. So that man may very well have been down and out.

06-06-2011, 08:19 AM
Weird that you would say that. Just Saturday, my husband and I were approached in the Walmart parking lot while we were unloading our groceries by a sad-looking woman, asking for some money. She said she was staying at a hotel, didn't have the money to pay her bill, and had lost everything she owned. I felt bad that I couldn't give her any money, but I explained to her that my husband and I are on foodstamps, and we just didn't have it, you know? My parents said that you can't always trust people like that, anyway, but it didn't stop me from feeling guilty.

06-06-2011, 09:49 AM
I would of just continued walking. I deal with people like that on a daily basis and although there are a few who are homeless with a mental illness or whatever are legit. 90% of the people I come across are able to work, just too lazy, are alcoholic and drug abuser's because they choose to be. Sometimes I feel bad for them but their's a shelter right by my work which they'd rather not go to, to begin with. I'm not here to fix someone's life who doesn't want to be fixed. (and trust me most of them DON'T want to be fixed.) I'm here to keep the build secure and these people out so they can't harass hard working people for money.

06-06-2011, 11:42 AM
With your daughter with you, you had to protect her first. I would have maybe gotten my daughter safely back to the restaurant or in the car then guided the woman into the restaurant and let them determine how to take care of the problem.

There are some pretty low and crafty folks out there. I once was waiting in downtown Chicago to pick up my then-husband. I watched this homeless woman panhandle with a baby in a stroller. She was sitting with a beggar's cup in her hand, falling asleep while the baby was obviously awake. I swore I would give her money when my husband returned. When he got to the car, I told him my plan and he callously told me not to help her. Sure enough, another woman came up to her, the first woman left the baby with her, and THAT woman sat with the beggar's cup. It was a scam! The baby was the prop! I mean, really! They used a real live baby to tug at people's heart strings to beg for money!

It made me sick and I'll never forget how close I came to getting scammed.

06-06-2011, 12:50 PM
I agree with EZ Money - Your first priority is to protect your child, and you did.

And I agree with those who said they would have pointed our shelters etc to her, I've done the same on almost a weekly basis with working down town, anytime I'm asked for money for food/rooms I let them know there is a shelter at x location and x location that can help you

06-06-2011, 01:08 PM
My dad had a man approach him one day while he was packing us four kids into the station wagon, at a Burger King parking lot. The guy said he lost his job and his children were hungry. Dad took him into the building and paid for two bags of food. The guy thanked him and brought it to a car with his wife and children and they started eating like they were starved.
Dad had about $100 on him which was all he had left for our road trip and he gave it to the guy. We were almost home anyway.
The food was a test, to see if he would eat it or toss it and hit up someone else for "food for the kids". Once he saw he wasn't lying, it was easy to give him money, but if he didn't have it, he would have felt okay buying him food.

You really have to feel out the situation cause each one is different. This chick had meds in her hand and was acting strung out. like everyone said, you needed to take care of your child first so there is no need to feel bad. She probably would have spent it on drugs or maybe attacked you if you hung around long enough.
Perhaps if she was acting different, or you had people with you, you could have helped, but I feel too that you did the right thing here.

06-06-2011, 02:19 PM
Thanks everyone. I'm not feeling so guilty now :)

When we were driving to the restaurant, I had noticed alot of 'groups of young men' milling around the shopping center and that made me feel uneasy.
I'm thinking we won't go to that particular area any more.

06-06-2011, 05:49 PM
You are human, of coarse you are going to question your actions after the fact. You did what your motherly gut instincts instructed you to do.

I would have done the same thing.

I did give a bum 2 dollars before because his sign said, "I'm not going to lie, I want a beer." But most of the time, I don't give money away. I feel there are so many resources out there that someone can use to help them get back on their feet. I do give money to the charity people sitting outside of walmart sometimes :)

06-07-2011, 12:30 AM
You did the right thing. Protecting your daughter is your first responsibility. And frankly, paying for a homeless drug addict's hotel room is absolutely not your responsibility. I think the only other things you might have done would have been to direct her to a shelter or call the cops to alert them to a person in need of assistance.

My neighborhood almost always has panhandlers hanging around. Most aren't aggressive or frightening (except for the ones that are :| ), but I never give them money. I'll buy food for people occasionally, but that's it. Unless you live at the butt-end of nowhere, there are resources available to help people like that lady, if they're aware of them and choose to make use of them.

06-07-2011, 03:52 AM
You definitely did the right thing! Don't feel bad about it. @Ursula the federal gov't provides free cell phones with 250 mins a month to low income people if you receive food stamps or meet some other criteria. So that man may very well have been down and out.

Since an address and telephone number are required on most job applications NOT having those things is a major obstacle for finding stable employment for the homeless. So, if you're house hopping/living in a shelter/halfway house and trying to find a job a cellphone is a must because you want any prospective employer to be able to reach you. A cheap throw-away phone with minutes you can add whenever you can doesn't cost that much.

fitness4life: I live in Chicago too and the people who use their children/pets/ are sociology and art majors who play "pretend homeless" as a social experiment don't get a dime from me. That's just low. If someone is begging for FOOD I'll get something for them because in some ways, asking for food is a LOT harder than just simply asking for money.

06-07-2011, 07:16 AM
You walk away and call the cops to pick her up. If she's a user she gets into treatment or prison and gets clean, or at least won't mug anyone. If she's honest the police will help her.

06-11-2011, 01:47 AM
It would probably depend on the person and the situation and how sincere she sounded. If I was alone (no child) and had the extra money to spare I think I would of helped her find a hotel room for the night. Since you did have your daughter with you, I'm surprised she bothered you, so it might of been a little suspicious. but who knows...maybe the prescriptions in her hand were things she needed and maybe she was rambling because she was upset.

As someone who is down and out myself, although I still have a home at the moment I'm not sure what the future holds, I'm a little disappointed people judge others so harshly. With the economy the way it is alot of people are losing their homes these days, jobs aren't easy to come by and getting benefits or help from the government isn't easy and most get turned down. I guess my point is everyone has a story, don't assume everyone is down and out due to drugs, drinking or being lazy.

06-11-2011, 10:58 AM
There are a million and one ways people become homeless or addicts and it's not my job to judge any of those people. However, I'm not dealing with unstable strangers when I have my daughter with me. She's five. She knows we donate to come organizations and why, she also knows we have to be careful of dodgy strangers. I'm trying to teach her to be compassionate, but also to be smart. I have a dear friend who works with homeless outreach and her advice is always donate to a TRUSTED organization, don't give money directly.

I will sometimes give a few dollars if I have them in my pocket, I'm not digging through a wallet or purse. That's how people get mugged. I fully admit that "homeless vet" gets money from me every time.

06-11-2011, 11:11 AM
I would had helped if I'd had the money. It isn't my problem what they do with it. The fact is helping out of the kindness of your heart is all that matters. But, I have a spot for homeless and people who need an ear etc. I'm always giving rides to people (depending on my intuition) and helping when I can. I plan to run a homeless shelter one day.

And, you can't beat yourself up over it, what's done is done. But, just seeing all the no's in the thread I mean it's obvious she probably doesn't get much help. Sometimes all people need is a helping hand. Whether or not she was lying or on drugs, isn't the point. My mom is really judgmental. I try to do the God thing and help when I can and love people, period. Like I tell my mom, even if they use the money for drugs or alcohol- can you blame them? Life gets you down sometimes and if I was homeless I can't say i wouldn't want a drink too.

I always think of what if's. What if my money got her to a room where someone stopped and talked to her- or she picked up a bible and read it in the drawer. What if it got her to a person that sold drugs and stopped and can tell her their story. You never really know where that money is intended to go for that person or where it really goes. I say a prayer, give them money or vise versa and move on. But, it's just what I feel in my heart.

Everyone is different. No reason to feel bad. Sometimes it's just nice to know someone cares. And like the bible says you could be helping Jesus (if you believe in that). Why not? What have we got to lose? A little cash that goes when we die anyways? An extra couple nights of dining out or a hair cut? None of it matters. I can say, as much as I give out, every time I am in need of something there is never a lack of people helping me out. I can only imagine that it's karma.

I do agree with protecting you and your child though. I always see what my gut says. It's never been wrong.

06-11-2011, 11:41 AM
I have never handed out money to a homeless person. And I defintely don't blame you for walking away. Now I don't care to go grab them a burger or something, but I just don't believe that cash is the best answer. I liked Crystal's Dad's idea that he gave them the food first then the money. My Dad is always one for picking up hitchhikers, but he could handle himself.. I don't just because you hear to many horror stories.
But the reason I don't give money is because I have had 2 friends now that have seen the scams. Not as terrible as the women using a baby for a prop.. thats sickening.. but my Mom's ex one day came to the house and told us that he had watched a man asking for money at an interstate exit ramp where they usually sit, take the money, walk into the outlet mall parking lot, and get into a brand new f150 after changing into a better shirt... Also, recently one of our friends had seen their neighbors out begging for money at walmart.. Neighbors who had a nice 2 story house, RV, boat, 2 luxury vehicles.. you get the picture.. So while yes the economy is declining their are people out there taking advantage of the situation.
One idea that I thought was great, but I know every homeless person can't do, is one day I was at walmart and a woman was with her 3 kids, one in a stroller, but she said she was trying to get enough money for a hotel that night. She didn't appear to be on anything at all so I rolled down my window more and talked with her. She was selling earrings that she made herself. They were gorgeous! She was asking 5 dollars a pair so we bought a few and gave her the money. I thought it was a great idea. Even if she was scamming at least we got a product out of it! haha! Where else can you get stone earrings for 5 bucks? lol.

06-11-2011, 04:09 PM
I have given money to homeless people a few times. Once, when I was in high school, I was out Christmas shopping in the nearest big city. A visibly mentally handicapped woman asked if she could have five dollars to go to MacDonald to get herself something to eat. It was cold, she seemed sincere, and I wanted to help. I gave her the money, and wouldn't you know it, she went into the restaurant, got herself some food and sat down to eat. That said, I have turned down many more sketchy people that have asked for money from me-but if I have it to spare and they seem legit, I try to help. Once, my dad gave a man 30 pesos in Mexico when we were in Agua Preita, and also once he gave a man at a gas station 20$ for gas, because he appreciated the man's honesty-he told him that he and his wife had been to a concert, and he had spent the rest of their gas money on beer. His wife was rightfully pissed, but they were almost home. My dad said that in his younger days he could have seen himself doing something silly like that, so he helped. I do try to put my change in the salvation army bell ringers at Christmas time, and if I see a jar at a gas station or restaurant going to ill children or someone's medical bills or other charity, I usually put my change in there if I have it to spare. I think you should choose who you help because obviously, you can't help everyone financially. But, doing little things makes a difference.

I think you did the right thing. Even if she was legit, it doesn't seem like something you could help with-and sounds like a scary person for your daughter to be around.

06-11-2011, 04:44 PM
I'm rather cynical having worked in policing for about 7 years but I think it's pretty obvious that she's scamming. If she had called the police about the prostitute then all she had to do was ask the dispatcher for a list to local homeless shelters or have the police direct her to a safe house.

BTW do you know why people like that often approach women with children... like you? Because you are the most likely to have sympathy for them whereas a random man would tell them off or at worst, offer them an 'exchange' for the room :cool:

Have seen this a million times before.