The "Spanger" Chronicles | Letters | Salt Lake City Weekly
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The "Spanger" Chronicles



I just wanted to share one spanger’s point of view. First of all, a “spanger” is a person who says, “Spare any change?”—a beggar or a panhandler. If you’ve been in downtown Salt Lake City, you more than likely have seen me.

I’d like to let you know most of us would rather not be out here. And please do not be afraid of us. We are young and old, and some have kids of our own. I, for one, would rather show or tell my kids that I beg and not steal.

To everyone who told me “no” when I asked for change, I say, “Thank you!”—not for saying no, but for saying anything at all. We already feel bad for begging. But when we ask or even just say “hello,” there are some people who just stick their nose up and walk by, or they just walk by. That makes us feel like we are nothing. How would it feel if you needed help for yourself  and your family, and you asked for help and people just walked by you?

From my experience, not only are there some really mean people out there, there are also some with really big hearts. To all of them, I say, “Thank you so much, you have helped us out more than you know.” Some have helped me or given me change outright. And some gave dollars. Some ask me what I’m trying to get, and if they think it’s worthy, they buy it for me. And when we need food, some take us shopping or out to eat. Like I said, there are good people with hearts. Thank you, once again.

In my experience, honesty is best! Even when I ask strangers for cigarettes, I say, “Spare any change for smoking?” and people respect me for being honest to them.

But please, people, if we ask, please say something back, especially when we have our kids with us. Most of us are not druggies. We are just people trying to get by and stay alive and warm.

Even if you just don’t want to give, it is OK to say no—it is your money, and you worked for it. So don’t feel bad for saying no.

Anonymous “Spanger”
Salt Lake City