Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Have you ever just wanted to be a jerk?

I'm getting so tired of getting hit up for change every time I leave or enter my office building.  Being in downtown Oakland, I'm not surprised that I have people asking for change, it's just the sheer number of times I'm asked each day.  I don't want to be a jerk about it, but the desire to be polite is almost completely gone, so instead of going off on someone down on the street, I'll vent here.  Below are my musings and repressed responses, wrapped in a thin coating of bitterness. 

Boy, aren't you lucky?

I've noticed that people are no longer asking for just any amount that you can/will spare.  They're specifying how much they want from you.  Apparently inflation knows no bounds either.  I've noticed that the amount keeps growing however slightly. 

It used to be "Hey buddy, do you have any change you can spare?"  Then it became a quarter.  Once I was asked specifically for 28 cents.  Today it was thirty.  Now, I can understand asking for a quarter.  It's not much and it's an easy amount to gather. 

I once was tempted to answer the quarter request with a "Sorry, no.  All I have is a nickel and two dimes.  Sorry."  I figured that that would get me a black eye, so I refrained.  Today when asked for thirty cents, I was tempted to say that I had fifty, but if he had two dimes, we'd be square.  Again the thought of a black eye helped me hold my tongue.

A couple of weeks ago, my Seattle counterpart was down to help me install new network switches after hours one night.  We left the office at about 5 to go grab dinner while the rest of everyone finished what they were doing and cleared out for the evening.  On our way back from dinner I got hit up for 50 cents.  This guy was obviously a high roller.  I couldn't help but chuckle because this was about the hundredth time I'd been asked for money that day.

"No!" I said as I walked by.

"Would you have it if I was white?"  I couldn't help but laugh out loud.

"I might have it if you weren't wearing hundred dollar shoes, a gold chain and standing outside a tobacco shop," I thought loudly.  This time the guy asking had three friends.  I know that there were two of us, but we weren't armed.  I felt lucky to get away without a black eye telling just for him no.

After getting hit up for 30 cents on my way into the building after grabbing lunch, my mind went into its usual "what if" scenario loop.  I started wondering what reaction people would have if they asked for 25/28/30/76/(whatever) cents and I pull out a huge handful of change, count out what they asked for and shove the rest back into my pocket.  If I ever get brave enough and find someone stupid enough to help me out, I might have to actually try this one out and film it to put on YouTube.  I think I'd have to pick a safer city.  I don't want to try that here in Oakland and film my death.

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