Saturday, April 14, 2012

Polite Panhandlers

When you go to a place like Fisherman's Wharf, you can except to see all types of everything. Panhandlers are a part of the scene. I must say, however, that San Francisco may possibly have cornered the market on very polite panhandlers. One man asked me for spare change (I truly didn't have any, but I always say "no" anyway because we donate to various organizations and I learned a long time ago in New York City that while you're reaching for change, there could be a lot of other crime going on). His reply? "Drive safely!" A woman asked us for fifty cents. We declined. She reponded with a smile, "Have a nice day!"

She was walking just ahead of us, so I was able to observe her asking the next five people for fifty cents. In each and every case, she was turned down. Like a broken record she repeated while smiling, "Have a nice day." Judgmental me observed the Ghirardelli bag swinging in her hand. I thought of a few probing questions such as, "Why don't you return that chocolate for cash?" I also tend to want to interview panhandlers: "What's your objective? Why fifty cents? Why not ask for more? Less? What's your success rate? How do you decide who to approach?" And so on. One guy refused to give her fifty cents but offered her a cigarette which she accepted. And she seemed to have a special salutation for the other panhandlers.

We devoured our clam chowder and sourdough bread bowls from Boudin's. I asked the server how to pronounce Boudin's--is it "BOW-DINS" or "BO-DINS?" He said, "I don't know!" He brought another employee who told us it's pronounced "BOO-DEENS." Boudin's. Delicious. Especially on a rainy day in Spring.

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