Stranded in Fredericksburg – The easiest “job” in the world

Pan Handling
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Stranded in Fredericksburg - The easiest "job" in the world

{I wrote this close to 15 years ago}

Upon exiting the Interstate, on my way home from work one evening, I pull up to the stoplight to make my turn onto Jefferson Davis Hwy (Now Patriot Highway in this area and Emancipation Highway in the city). As I come to a complete stop, I notice about 6 car lengths in front of me, an individual leaning up against the guardrail, holding a sign. I then observed 1 of the drivers of the cars in front of me, hand the individual (dressed in shoddy clothes) something that looks like money. I then notice another driver also holds out some more money and the man with the sign gladly takes the money. That’s funny, I was not aware that the County placed a tollbooth at the exit of the Interstate.

While I was pondering my thoughts, I noticed yet another car and the man had more money. In the last 30 seconds, I noticed the man take at least a total of $3.00 from the cars in front of me. As the light turns green, I ease my car forward and get a good look at the sign the man is holding. The sign reads “STRANDED need money to get back home”. The man is in his late 40s/ early 50s, hasn’t shaved in about two weeks, and appears to be in good health.

Stranded? This is Fredericksburg, how far can home be? Hey, maybe he is from out of town and really does need some help.

The next day, again on my way home from work and at the same location was the same man, once again “STRANDED” and in need of money. This time I watched him collect money from two cars before the light changed. No further than a mile down Jefferson Davis Hwy, I saw another man along the road, holding a sign, which read, “STRANDED, will work for food”. This guy had the nerve to stand right in front of a Pizza Hut (which has long since been torn down and is now a gas station), which sported a help-wanted sign. Across the road, two other fast-food restaurants were hiring too (The Wendy’s is now a loan place). I know if I was stranded and needed food, I would consider working at a restaurant, sure it is minimum wage, but it beats begging, or does it? During the two light cycle waiting periods I spent at the intersection, I noticed no less than 5 cars stop and the drivers handed the man money.

The next day, the same thing, both men still “STRANDED”, maybe they should hitch a ride. Oh, yeah, that would be illegal and dangerous. Unlike panhandling while standing alongside a busy intersection (notice the sarcasm).

If my math is correct, and I think it is, since I’m sitting at my computer which has a calculator loaded on it (and I wasn’t taught the new common core math either), the men are making at least $3.00 every stoplight cycle. The average stoplight cycle lasts say 10 minutes, wait, I was exaggerating just a little, but we will use that figure as a good round number and give the men a break (plus it often seems like you are waiting at some lights for a good 10 minutes). Ok, take $3.00 every 10 minutes, there are 60 minutes in an hour, carry the one (hey you always hear them say “carry the one” when doing math in the movies), and you come up with somewhere around $18.00 an hour. That works out to $144.00 a day (assuming they work an 8-hour day). If they stood outside “STRANDED” for a year, they are making close to $38,000 annually. Mind you, that is after taxes since those that are handing out the money are paying the taxes.
{Realistically a light cycle is about 3 minutes, so that is $3 every 3 minutes or $60 an hour, times 8 hours $480 a day, times 5 days a week or $2,400 a week, times 52 weeks for a total of $124,800 a year. And all that is all based on 3 cars per light cycle handing the beggar $1 for each car.}

Two years later, I have seen the same men at different intersections throughout the county. I have also seen different people try their hand at begging for money along route 3. There is a man wearing rather new camouflaged utilities from the military, holding a sign that reads “Vietnam Vet will work for food”. He chooses the intersection near the Big K-Mart (now an At Home) and the Taco Bell that is always hiring. I also find it funny that the Vet from Vietnam has chosen to wear one of the most expensive outfits, to begin with. I spent nearly 11 years in the Marine Corps and I know that a full uniform costs about $65.00 (closer to $100 today), a quick check online at surplus stores shows a similar price tag. But hey, the uniform adds to the effect, even though the uniform he was wearing was not from the era he claims he served in, he should be wearing tiger strips or OG-107s and not highland ERDL camouflage or MARPAT).

Several weeks ago, I watched one of the men finish his “day at the office” and walk across the street to a parked BMW, climb in, start the car and drive off. I also watched a man (days prior) reach into his pocket and pull out a roll of bills that would make Bill Gates do a double-take.

If they are indeed homeless, then I have compassion for you, but from what I have observed, these individuals are simply spending the “day at the office” and are taking our hard-earned money from us.

A radio talk show had some good advice and suggested that instead of giving the panhandler money, offer them a ride to the homeless shelter or give them a card with directions to the shelter and how to contact the shelter. If you do this you will see that they will seldom want to take it from you, after all, you are then wasting their time and costing them money.

A quick search at Yahoo shows that Electronic Panhandling is also a big thing, there are several people begging for money to pay off debts, one young lady begging for money to get her breasts enhanced, and even several entire websites dedicated to Cyber Begging.

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Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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