Fake Homelessness in Los Angeles

I’m always entertained by the antics of the self-proclaimed homeless. While I can appreciate that homelessness in America and the rest of the world is a problem, I am always amazed and a little bit angered by the poser homeless I see. Are you really that lazy that homelessness would be your full time job? I mean, telemarketing, handing out flyer’s on the street, cashier, or janitorial are all jobs which don’t require too much discernible skill. And they pay a wage; granted you’re not going to break the bank on your flier distributor job, that’s still no reason to turn to begging as a means to an end. It’s still considerably more work for the possibility of no payoff.

I was driving home from work yesterday (even my job as a front desk clerk at a hotel only requires that I show up dressed and shaven) and I was coming off the highway at Van Nuys Blvd from the 101. There was a young man standing with a rather large sign; maybe an off-ramp marketer, I presumed. He was young, tousled blond hair, over sized expensive looking JanSport backpack, clean khakis; generally looked like a person you’d see walking around any neighborhood anywhere.

His sign was the interesting thing and it came into focus as I’d neared. It was large poster-board and it had individual lettering (like lettering you’d find on a professionally made sign whose message would change; fast food sign lettering). The lettering read, “T-O-U-G-H T-I-M-E-S — NOT A CAREER CHOICE.” I zipped past him in the right lane (he was on the left side) but I understood that he was asking for money, a lift, or what have you. But as I cruised by I thought, “that kids not homeless.”

Eah, it’s no different anywhere else in Los Angeles; everyone is so fake and plastic; might as well have fake homeless people. Still, it made me mad. There were real homeless people who needed whatever handouts this kid was getting much more than he did. The only real excuse I could think of for this travesty might be if this kid were like an investigative journalist and he were trying to, you know, uncover the way that beggars are treated in an expose story (note to self: become a beggar) or if he were a sociology student or something; doing some grad school paper about the subject. But for the love of Christmas, dress the part! You know? Don’t show up in your best khaki’s with your full on JanSport backpack and your intricate sign. Because this sign was so intricate, the fact that you even had it meant that a) you were a fake or b) you were a thief. And who wants to support a fake or a thief?

As disheartened as I was by this display, I kept going. I picked up my lovely wife and we jettisoned off to our fun afternoon in another part of Los Angeles, when I almost stopped in my tracks. While getting on to the 405; about a mile from where I’d gotten off the 101 not an hour earlier was a blond haired girl with tousled hair, swanky denim, and an individually lettered sign standing along the side of highway.

“Oh no…” I groaned.

“What’s wrong?” asked my wife.

-Fake homelessness is what’s wrong. If we’re really so smug that we would give to the homeless at all, who probably have an addiction or other issue of some kind, go home and write a check to the Red Cross, United Way, or other worthy organization. Let’s make the barriers to entry so high, the payoff so small, and the ease startup so difficult, that people would rather have a career in the most menial type of service industry, than resort to homelessness. It’s the people who give to people like these two jokers that are the problem; stop giving and we can stop making homelessness even an interim career choice.

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