Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to 'Fly a Sign'

As a social worker I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the art of 'flying signs'. For all you "laypeople", flying a sign is what we call, in the "industry", panhandling with a cardboard sign on a street corner.

Below are some key points I think are important for successful sign fly-age:

*Don't write a novel. I am driving, most likely not stopping for long at a light and frankly I don't have a lot of time to read the essay you wrote on why I should give you my money. Be concise.

*Write BIG! I should be able to read your sign from several car lengths back. If I am squinting trying to read your sign as I am passing you...not good.

*Use a dark marker. On a tan cardboard sign, dark colors stand out and are easier to read.

*Don't make drug or alcohol references. A sign with "4:19" on it or one that says, "why lie, I want a beer", does not encourage me to give you MY hard earned money.

*Gimmicks can be okay..."Bet you can't hit me with a quarter" "Dancing for change" Both clever and original, you may just get some of my money.

*DO NOT under any circumstances approach my stopped vehicle if I do not have my hand out the window indicating I am giving you money. People, especially women, do not like when strangers approach their window, especially unkempt, scary men (yes, I am stereotyping). I will not be giving you money if you do this. I will lock my doors and get my cell phone out to call 911.

And lastly....

*Don't tell me you are a "struggling student". I will stop my car just to bitchslap you, but I will not be giving you any money. I have been a broke student, but you get financial aid which helps cover living expenses. I lived off of ramon noodles and free pizza for several years. I have no sympathy for you,I am still paying off my student loans!

Follow my simple guidelines and you could be earning spare change in no time! Best of luck in your sign flying!


Anonymous said...

You forgot: Do not stand there in your Columbia Jacket, Nike tennis shoes and drinking your starbucks and expect me to give you money.


E said...

Ohh, good one.

When I used to be a FS worker and carry a caseload, I had this fear that one of my clients would spot me while I was stopped at a light and come ask me questions about their case. I actually had a few dreams about it.

Anonymous said...

I had this food stamp client who we will call "tree lady". She is on the corner of Main and Bob Strass...everytime I drive by her I think....I was her food stamp worker.

Samuel said...

Dude, my fellow social worker, no kidding.

I had a client who came in asking for a disability determination. I took the app, like you do, and waited for the team in Salem to ok it or not.

In the mean time, every day my bus to work went right past this guy flying a sign on the corner. Mind you, the disability he was claiming would have completely prevented this behavior.

So what's a guy to do? Truth is, homeboy is sick. I saw his med records, and he has like stupid bad cancer or some nasty thing like that. But he's not disabled to where he can't stand for long periods, and I know 'cos I see him doing it on the daily.

So I called the disability annalist and told them the situation. They didn't seem to care. For them, it's all about comparing doctor's notes to Social Security standards lists.

Before I could find out how the story turned out, I changed jobs and caseloads. So for all I know, Mr. Liarhead is now feeding at the public trough.

But he needs the care, so I'm not sure what I hope happened.

We ought to have lunch together one of these days. It's been a long time, and I'd love to talk DHS geek with you.


Former Fat Chick said...

I live in Orlando and there are few panhandlers, they get rid of them, bad for tourism...don;t ask me how the "rid them" I don't know and would probably be appalled. There is also a law that prohitis you form feeding more than 10 homelss at a time! Thye are NUTZ in O-Town.

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