Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Unimaginative Americans

I just read an article here, about a beggar in Scotland the stands on his head in a bucket while he begs. A bit crazy, a bit smart. Beggars in America have no imagination. I'm not saying they should all start standing on their heads in a bucket but that they should come up with something original that entertains for a few seconds. The beggars in Paris are professionals at this. They work in groups running complicated schemes. I ignore most of them but the few that I find truly original I reward for their thinking. Some things I like are double amputees making crafts, dancing, and playing homemade instruments. I also have a soft spot for homeless with dogs. Things I dislike are intimidation, rapping for money, beggars working in large groups, simple begging and pressing on once I say NO.

On a side note, here is a great way to get a free souvenir from Paris. Find the beggars that are tying the wristbands. These people will probably be by any touristy place but they are most concentrated by the Sacrè cœr. There was about thirty there when I was. They will be very persuasive to ask you to give them your wrist so they can tie a bracelet around it. They all speak English. Right away when they are making your wristband ask them how much it costs, they won't tell you, they will switch the subject and go on asking where you are from how you are liking Paris etcetera. Don't answer their questions, just keep thanking them for the free present and telling them how generous they are to visitors of their city. With out fail, when they are done, no matter how much you asked how much it cost or thanked them for the free present, the will tell you to give them money. I always find this part funny. Tell them you thought it was free and that they can have it back if they want and all they say is "give me some money now." At this point walk off. I never give beggars who make their dough from intimidation of others. I have seen though that this is very effective begging. When they are finished most people find themselves faced with 10 to 20 big men telling them that they owe them money, and they fell obligated because of the colorful wristband they are wearing. Most will cough up a few Euros for something worth a few cents. These wristbands are tied on and don't come off easily.


Blogger Steve said...

I like your reaction to the Braclet guys. I would go for *really* pissing them off and say "In America we're smart enough to get the money up-front for our products" :) -- Then hand them a white flag and continue on your way..

But maybe thank at least one person in France for saving our butts during the revolution. Can't always be rude, even to the French.

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