Just Another Panhandler

 

I awoke to a cool morning in Ohio last Fall. As I got out of the truck, I noticed just a slight bit of frost on the ground. I was thinking about how nice a hot mug of coffee was going to taste when a fellow approached me in the parking lot. “Excuse me sir,” he said. “My car is out of gas, and I’m trying to go south. Do you have any spare change?” I fished out a few dollars, he invoked the Almighty’s blessings on me, and I proceeded toward the truck stop. Panhandlers have the same migratory habits as birds, heading south for the winter. And they hang out at truck stops too. Truck stops are notoriously pricey, and treat the trucker like little more than an ATM with B.O. A simple shower runs $10. Ditto with just about any meal. And what the store doesn’t get, the panhandlers try to mooch, no one having told them that Donald Trump doesn’t drive a truck.

In the men’s room, I was trying to wash out my travel mug, but the faucet didn’t have any handles to turn! It was one of those insidious little sensor jobs, and it sensed nothing. I was waving my hands in front of the stupid thing like David Copperfield on acid trying to cast a spell when from my right I heard, “Excuse me sir, but my truck broke down, and I just need a few dollars to get some breakfast ’cause I ain’t eat since yesterday.” Fished out some more dollar bills because its easier than debating. Truck stop coffee varies wildly from one place to the next. This coffee was a bit off, resembling a touch of brake fluid laced with black death. So I had to doctor it heavily, with loads of cream and enough sweetner so that I could pour it over pancakes if I wished. “Yo man,” said the idiot next to me with his cap on sideways and his pants bunched around his knee caps. But before he could launch into his sad story I said, “Don’t tell me. Your wife left, your car broke, and your dog has mange. Or is it that your dog left, your wife is broke and your car has mange?”

And then, since I had built up a good head of steam, I addressed everyone in the truck stop. ” Whobody else wants money?” I demanded. “There’s been a run on the bank this morning and I’m about to close shop.” Blank stares greeted my outburst. No takers. I looked at the sideways baseball cap and said, “Sorry. I’m tapped out.”

That’s the same feeling I got when I read that the President is asking for another $50 billion for police, teachers, firefighters, Sally Struthers, baby seals, or whatever. I thought all that was supposed to be taken care of with the previous boat loads of stimulus he got. And let’s face it, $50 billion is chump change for these people. They lose that much between the seat cushions, or use it as book marks in one of their glorious multi-thousand page bills. A mere $50 billion is but small flatulence in a large windstorm to this president, but it is real money to the rest of us. Go auction off those Chairman Mao Christmas ornaments if you want money that badly. Speaking of Maoists, why not auction off a few of your advisors for a day’s labor in the collective. You know, rent a commie for mommy. Or you could use the proceeds from your infernal books. Just stop hitting us up!

Mr. President, we are tapped out. Our children are tapped out, and our grandchildren are tapped out. In fact, I heard my 11 month old grandson Daniel say just the other day, “Muwablab blab blab duh duh doo da bloomf phhhhttttttttttttt,” which means, “Buzz off, ya free loader.” At least the panhandlers in the truck stops look like they could use the help.

There are 5 comments.

  1. Member

    An old, late friend of mine told me about this one morning, he might have been in NYC, he gave some beggar a handful of quarters, then saw the same bum later that day counting a wad of bills! After hearing that story I’ve never given money to anyone on the street.

    • #1
    • June 15, 2010 at 5:03 am
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  2. Contributor

    Can I nominate for line(s) of the week?

    They lose that much between the seat cushions, or use it as book marks in one of their glorious multi-thousand page bills. A mere $50 billion is but small flatulence in a large windstorm to this president, but it is real money to the rest of us.

    • #2
    • June 15, 2010 at 5:52 am
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  3. Inactive

    I don’t know, Ursula – this one’s gonna be tough to beat: “I was waving my hands in front of the stupid thing like David Copperfield on acid trying to cast a spell….”

    • #3
    • June 15, 2010 at 10:13 am
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  4. Member

    The evocative descriptions in this post are great. I wonder, Dave, if you’ve ever read Travels with Charlie, John Steinbeck’s attempt at an “on the road” narrative. I seem to remember a scene at a truck stop you might enjoy.

    • #4
    • June 15, 2010 at 10:34 am
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  5. Member

    Hallelujah Dave, I’ll join the chorus.

    • #5
    • June 20, 2010 at 10:10 am
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