I love Downtown, I do. In the summer, it's vibrant with outdoor music, food trucks, farmers markets. Awesome.
What is less than awesome is the rampant panhandling that happens in the summer.
Standing at the bus today I was asked for money by no less than 6 people. Some were pleasant, some had elaborate stories of woe (which if you take the bus downtown enough, you start to get to know the people and their stories), some looked completely "normal" (striking up a casual conversation only to ask you for $5), some were unstable (which is so sad, as everyone should have access to good mental health resources), some were high and some were mean.
This one woman in particular had set up a nest. She has blankets, weed and a good set of vocal chords. She sits on her blanket by the window, smoking a joint all the while SCREAMING "SPARE CHANGE!!!!" at anyone who walks by.
If you ignore her, she gets up and follows you, in her barefoot, unkempt splendour. If instead of ignoring her you politely say you don't have change, she screams and spits.
Neither one of which is especially pleasant.
I had an elderly lady duck out of her wrath and come stand beside me because she was frightened. Lovely.
It's not the panhandling I dislike, it's that it makes you feel unsafe. In the past, I've offered some of my lunch, or an apple, but they never take that.
I think I'll continue to give to the United Way who help with Outreach programs... At least I feel better knowing that it's going for something good.