I live about a mile from a fairly decent-sized strip mall; needless to say, I visit a store there almost daily – groceries, Radio Shack, Lowe’s, bank, fuel, AT&T when I have some MORON question about my iPhone that one of the young clerks answers in ~15 seconds; after which I totter on back out to the 15 year old SUV and drive back home before my soup gets cold.
And EVERY single time I come outta that strip mall, I always see one of two panhandlers “workin’ the corner” – one is a mid-50’s dude with ALL the right accessories – torn & dirty clothes, well-used military jacket and boots, requisite cardboard sign with “Thanks & God Bless” at the bottom, months’ worth of facial hair, forlorn look in his eyes – you get the picture right? Samey-same in j’es about Anytown USA. Then, at another corner, there’s a mid-50’s woman in slightly better costumery.
Now, a few weeks ago, by pure happenstance, I drove past BOTH of them on the same day, as I had to go to the strip mall twice (noticed that I ran out of Jameson when I went for my evening swig o’ swill – Mon Dieu!); once in the AM, and once late afternoon to fetch the aforementioned liquor beverage. And on both occasions, as luck would have it, I found myself RIGHT next to each of them as I had to wait for the light to turn. It was then that I noticed that BOTH signs were written in exactly the same handwriting – Hmmm…Coincidence? I didn’t THINK so!
O.K. – I know what you’re thinking – give ’em a break, Dick – they’re prolly a husband and wife that are both down on their luck. Yeah – I gave that a passing thought too – JUST before the naturally-suspicious curmudgeon in me kicked in and said – “These are mutha-fuckin’ SCAM artists!”
So yesterday I put off my usual “5 o’clock cocktail hour” commencement ceremonies until sundown, at which time I bid Peggy a fond adieu and drove on down to El Strip Mall to stake out this duo; I figgered that they would prolly be of a mind(s) to close up shop about then, since the likelihood of a panhandler getting coin after dark prolly drops to almost nil when the lights go out…
I drove by ’em both respectively, one and then the other, then drove back to Mrs. P-H, where my speculations were rewarded – Oh Yeah They Were! She grabbed up her fruit crate, carefully put her sign in it, and hot-stepped it towards Mr. P-H’s relative location – I idled along well behind. Apparently Mr. P-H got the text message from his betrothed, ’cause he was hoofing it (like a marathon walker, I might add!) towards her too. As they got closer to one another, I espied their common destination, and my jaw dropped, bruising my chin as it hit my well-worn steering wheel – they were both walking towards a 2-3 year old 3-Series BMW!
Mr. P-H produced a key fob as he stripped off his ragged jacket, and up popped the trunk lid. They greeted one another with a hug and kiss, chatted for a few seconds (prolly comparing the respective day’s “take”), put their fruit crates in the trunk, and drove away; hell, they prolly live in the same guard-gated community that Peggy and I live in, f’er Chrissakes!
It’s a good gig if you can get it, right Kids? FUCKERS – wish *I* had thought of that first!