December 01, 2003

I Probably Won’t Pay You Tuesday . . .

When it comes to panhandlers’ requests, I finally can say I’ve heard it all.

Over the years I’ve been asked for spare change generally, of course, but also more specifically for a dime (that was a long time ago), a quarter (not quite so long ago), 50 cents, a dollar, 10 dollars, even 20 dollars.

Two dollars is a frequent request in Philadelphia, as in, “Could you spare two dollars? I just need to get a bus back to . . .” (Sure, pal, as long as I can watch you get on it.)

I’ve been asked for subway tokens, articles of clothing (specific things I was wearing at the moment), cigarettes, and the time and then my watch.

This afternoon in Center City Philadelphia, in the Photo District (actually, there’s no such thing but I like saying that because it sounds sort of cool and, besides, I can’t conceive of any other reason why there would or should be three photo shops -- Ritz Camera, Mid-City Camera, and Comet Camera -- along a two-block stretch of Walnut Street, east of Broad), a woman standing in front of a deli asked, “Would you please buy me a liverwurst sandwich?”

And do you know what? I almost did. I mean, she deserves points for originality at least.


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