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Friday, May 31, 2013



- Some of the most creative signs used by beggars.

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Every now and then you encounter a panhandler begging for money. This is starting to become commonplace here in Pinellas County, Florida along US-19 where beggars hold up signs at traffic intersections asking for money. The signs they hold typically convey the message, "Homeless and hungry. Please help. Thank you and God bless." Motorists have mixed emotions about offering donations. Some happily offer their spare change, others roll up their windows and lock their doors in fear for their safety.

The beggars of Pinellas Country are neophytes when compared to New York panhandlers who have turned it from an art to a science. It was in New York where the idea of cleaning windshields first started. Most people gave the beggars money, not out of kindness, but to keep them away from their cars. In New York, the beggars realize a simple sign like, "Please Help," no longer works. Instead, they have to have a gimmick, such as holding a door open at a public store, or perhaps they dress in flamboyant costumes to entertain the public. Most though, have developed some very creative signs which makes pedestrians either laugh or think. The beggars know very well, a clever sign means big bucks. Here are some of the most interesting signs I have encountered:

"Family kidnapped by Ninjas. Need $ for Karate lessons." - This is the standard sign used to amuse pedestrians. There are slightly different variations of it out there, but this is the bread and butter of signs.

However, there are many other signs reflecting some real ingenuity:

"I slept with Lindsay Lohan last week - Please help." - (Yes, please.)

"Blah, blah, blah...Money.
Blah, blah, blah...Food.
Blah, blah, blah...
Who Reads Signs Anyway?<
Anything helps. Thank you."

- (I like guys who are honest and cut to the chase.)

"Too ugly to prostitute. Too stoopid to steal." - (I saw this woman. She's right.)

Here's a few that I found rather clever and I suspect worked well for the panhandlers:

"Let's do lunch. U-Buy."

"I'll bet you $1 you'll read this sign."

"I'm like Obama. I want change."

"Bills larger than $50 will NOT be accepted after 9pm."

"I'll bet you can hit me with a quarter."

"Desperate need for hair weave. Please help."

"Will take verbal abuse for $1.00."

"Need cash for alcohol research."

I found these next two signs rather disturbing. Although they were trying to be humorous, I looked upon these people as deadbeats:

"16 Wives.
7 hungry dogs
3 thin cats.
25 kids and still horny.
Please help with loose change."

"Too lazy to work. Too scared to steal. Please assist."

You can see the influence of technology in these signs:

"Homeless + Hungry. God bless!!!!!
PayPal -"

"Will code HTML for food. Please help."

"Will work for text messaging."

"Replaced by CGI - please help" - (man dressed as a robot.)

"Time Traveler - Help! Need $ for New Flux Capacitor" - (I presume this is intended to appeal to fans of science fiction.)

In New York I found the panhandlers to be somewhat territorial in nature. They hustled for their preferred location and kept an eye open for anyone infringing on their territory. This final sign sums it up:

"If you don't wanna spare me some change, at least don't give any to the other Bums!"

It's fascinating, even beggars appear to possess the American spirit of entrepreneurship.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  OFFICE NOISE - Can we focus in the workplace or is there too much ear pollution?

LAST TIME:  NAYSAYERS - Those who believe the glass is half empty.

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