A Farce of a Life
After reading the letter that Melissa Ryan wrote [“I Don’t Want to Help You,” Letters, Jan. 29, City Weekly], it made me think of a piece that the Dallas Observer, an independent weekly, published back in the ’90s. They conducted an undercover operation to see how many of those “Will Work for Food” beggars would actually work for food. They drove around all areas of Dallas-Fort Worth and offered work to beggars doing menial labor such as digging up shrubs, mowing yards, mending fences, etc. To no one’s surprise, there were very few beggars who took them up on the offer.
Why work when you can just put out your hand and there are still enough suckers around to put money in it? Also, the Observer profiled and followed other beggars who didn’t offer to work for food: Did these people actually use their illgotten income to better their lives, feed their kids, put a meaningful roof over their heads? Again, to no one’s surprise, the answer to that question was a resounding no. After a hard day’s work, most of them simply bought alcohol at the local 7-Eleven on the way back to their daily motel rental room so they could blissfully spend the rest of the night watching TV and getting a good night’s sleep for the next grueling day of begging.
I would really like to see City Weekly do a similar piece here in the Salt Lake Valley. I get a feeling that a lot of people would actually be surprised by these beggars’ lives and behaviors. In the end, I can almost guarantee that it will stop a lot of people from perpetuating these people’s farce of a life.
GREG DAMRPON Salt Lake City