I’ve been really good lately about packing my lunch. It wasn’t really a cost saving measure, although that was a nice bonus. There was a lot of leftovers around, so I packed them up and decided to start bringing them for lunch. But, due to some overwhelming tiredness last evening, I finally fell down on the job and forgot to set something aside for my lunch today.

It wasn’t a big deal, though. I had a few things to pick up over my lunch hour, so I decided to run out quickly and grab something. However, I’ve been wary of going to a few of the shopping centers nearby that also have bus stops near them. With the holiday season upon us, the number of the pan handlers that set up shop almost triples. And, frankly, it just triggers my brain in all the wrong ways to be around them.

Now, before you go all judgmental about not helping out those in need, please understand that my husband and I donate to several charities, including the local breakfast mission, the local food bank, and the red cross in order to provide services to those who are willing to seek it out. With those funds given, I feel no obligation to give handouts to someone camping out at the intersection with a cardboard sign and a hard luck story. I feel like, if that person was truly “Homeless and Hungry! Please help!” or “Will Work for Food!” they have no excuse than to work with the local charities established to provide exactly those services.

What I’ve come to understand, at least in some cases, is that the panhandlers are typically people who live in the apartment complex near my home, wear freshly washed clothes, and have nicer sneakers and watches than I do. Panhandling is quite a problem near my home, with the prime territories being fought over to the point where some folks have been arrested for doing so. The  city of Wilmington passed an ordinance, which fines panhandling, so they just jump the bus and go from stop to stop.

Some local charities have taken up their collections at some of the hotter panhandling locations. Still, this has not deterred some of the more determined panhandlers. I saw one where the charity was at one end near the stop light, and the pan handler was at the other end, holding up is sign.

Still, the most disconcerting is when folks will actually follow you to your car as you’re parking, for some one on one confrontation. It’s happened to me a few times, although I was able to avoid giving him anything. I’ve also heard about some of these people getting quite aggressive. One was arrested over the summer for assaulting someone outside a drug store.

So, when I decide to venture out, I always do some surveillance in the area before parking and getting out of my car. If I see people wandering from car to car, clearly looking for trouble, I don’t even bother stopping. Fortunately today, I was able to get my errands run without issue. It’s just frustrating that I have to even do such a thing, but this is unfortunately the state of the world we live in.