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Better know a Panner

 Megaphone (Canada) 19 May 2019

(Originally published: 01/2010) “Panhandlers come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them do need the money, but aggressive panhandlers should be told to leave the neighborhood.” Megaphone vendor Bob provides his guide to the various panhandlers of Vancouver. (534 words) - Bob—Megaphone Sales Rep.


There are several different types of panhandlers in Vancouver. There's the type of panhandler found sitting with a tin or hat and a sign saying "Homeless-need money, food or shelter". Other panhandlers are senior citizens, people in low-paying jobs, people recently unemployed due to the recession or those on disability pension. Most are not aggressive and some have the courtesy to say, "Have a nice day".


Most panhandlers live on the streets during good weather. Others move to a shelter or try to get into one for the night during winter. The ones that are not homeless, most of their welfare cheque goes towards their single room residence with a hotplate for cooking their meals. They're left with little money for food or tobacco. Many pick up cigarette butts found on the streets, which they use to smoke.


If the government would build more low cost housing, and raise welfare or disability income rates higher, there would be a lot less homeless and panhandling.


Other types of panhandlers are teenagers, who come to the city from all across Canada. Many of them have run away from home. They're looking for money for food and for drugs.


Then there are the local young people. Some of them are girls, but mostly they're young men in their late teens or early 20s who are too lazy to work, and panhandle to pay for food, booze, drugs or to just casually spend. Sometimes they do it just for kicks. Some of them live at home; some come in from the suburbs. A lot live in hotel rooms. They can be very aggressive and dangerous, particularly when high on drugs.


Next come the ones, usually older men (sometimes women) in their 40s or older, wanting money usually for a bottle or a beer. Many are intoxicated all the time and live on the streets; they are aggressive or belligerent when intoxicated. Often people will give them money, some feeling intimidated.


For many, they are constantly in and out of the drunk tank, and are well known to police. Sometimes the police will give them a hard time and rough them up before putting them in the paddy wagon. I've witnessed some officers getting a good laugh while throwing them in the wagon.


Then there are the chronic drug users, sometimes holding signs wanting money for pot. A lot of young people will give money to these people to get high. The most aggressive are the ones panhandling for money towards cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin. They panhandle at bus stops, liquor stores, restaurants, grocery stores and banks.


A person can be at a bank machine and the user or addict (most are addicted to the drugs) will watch every move the person makes, the amount of money they are handling, hoping the bank customer will slip them a bill. Often they work in pairs-one outside the bank, another across the street. They take advantage of young kids, teenagers, women and seniors. They get very aggressive: swearing, threatening and following people for money.


Panhandlers come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them do need the money, but aggressive panhandlers should be told to leave the neighbourhood.

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