Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bums and Irony

Irony is an interesting concept. Irony probably accounts for a significant percentage of blog posts around the world today, and most of our comedy.

Irony, however, is usually lost on our local River North bums. I think there is probably a more politically correct word to use than "bum" but "bum" is most apt. They could be homeless but they probably have a home somewhere else, and they pop up here in River North due to the number of friendly tourists and their open hearts and wallets.

The irony is that very often there is a bum panhandling outside the Jewel grocery store on State and Grand. The bums usually panhandle right in front of the door, trying to catch you on the way in or the way out.

And what sign is on the door, about 2 feet away from their head? A sign for open positions, at Jewel! Jewel has a variety of positions, some skilled, but many unskilled. Could they learn to be a bagger, or work maintenance, or stock shelves? Probably. And right through the door are people working hard for a living, at jobs that aren't that great, while they don't do anything for themselves and harass passer-bys.

I was particularly irate this morning because when I headed over to Jewel to do some shopping the streets were mostly deserted of tourists. Due to the fact that the "absolute" level of bums is relatively constant, the "bum to citizen" ratio was highly out of whack and I got hit up for money 4 times on the way over and a few times on the way back. The typical aggressive bum tactic is to try to strike up a conversation by asking a question and demand your attention; thankfully the iPod drowns them out, and sunglasses avoid eye contact.

Maybe next time they want to ask me a question I'll ask them if they've heard of the concept of Irony. Probably not...


Dan from Madison said...

Hopefully they aren't too aggressive, physically speaking - that is the worst. I actually got grabbed by a bum in Madison of all places once. I was walking by with a kid in my arms and he grabbed my leg - this action was rudely received by a quick kick in his jaw.

If the same thing happenned how I think I might kill the guy with my new found skills. Leverage is a bitch.

Annie said...

Around here, most of the panhandler types just sit or stand with a sign. They rarely ever speak to you.
The only times I've ever been physically approached for money was in Chicago. Happens to be the only time I was ever mugged, too.