Originally posted by darkhorserider
reply to post by MidnightSunshine
As long as you know where they are, and what they are doing, you can keep your distance, but as soon as they approach you, you are in danger.
You can disarm them by being the first to ask for a smoke or a dollar. Fun stuff.
Seriously though, I'd like to add to this sentiment.
It seems wise to distinguish a "bum" from the "homeless", by trying to determine which one needs help and which one is looking for a free ride.
They are better at that game than we are. Though the one talking to a light pole probably has larger concerns than what is in your pocket.
Others have advised that most are criminal, insane, or both. True enough, though it doesn't stop some folks from feeling some degree of compassion
and compelled to lend aid, even if in a cursory form. People do this just to make themselves feel better.
The key here is in the "approach". That's just it. If you want to help then go help. There are better ways, like volunteer work. You make the
approach. Not them. Careful though... as it has also been said, they watch and learn people and habits. So lightning never strikes twice. Never help
the same homeless person twice unless you are ladling out hot soup at the local mission, or something of the like.
Make it a surprise. They love that.
If you must... Go for the one that isn't asking. Just drop off some change or a smoke on your way out of a store. Say nothing, or simply "here you
go man" or "looks like you could use this", and keep walking. If they thank you, just wave goodbye. It might get him jumped by the other bums, but
you will have handled it on your terms.
Eye contact... that's an iffy one. If you are giving them a handout then you have already acknowledged their existence as a fellow human being. So
then it only stands to reason that you would have them meet your gaze.
When they approach you... that is a horse of a different stripe... most of them are probably dangerous. Destitution and desperation are ugly
bedfellows. If possible just ignore them. If something must be said then make it sound like a warning.
They target areas where people are likely to be easy marks. From the OP, it sounds like this guy knew when and where to be for a free smoke. (...and
possibly some 2nd base action) In this case you will probably need to be aggressive. You and your coworkers will need to make it known that the area
is no longer easy pickings.