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Blog: Skillz, Popular With Weirdos Again

(originally written 5/26/22)

If you're a regular reader of my blogs (yes, one of the three people), you know I have quite a history with panhandlers, favor-seekers and general weirdos out in public.

Basically, for most of the 2010's, they rarely left me alone. No matter how unfriendly I tried to appear or how much I attempted to simply ignore them. My buddy Paul blames it on my "kind eyes"—people see them and assume I'm some idiot that can be manipulated. I estimate that 50% of my ventures into public included a "visit" from a bum, favor-seeker or weirdo of some sort.

(When I say "bum", I'm not referring to the homeless in general. I'd like to think I'm not that cold. I'm referring to the individuals who just hang out in front of stores, in intersections, practically anywhere begging for money. And nothing BUT money. The type who will throw your fresh, free lunch on the ground if you dare supply one. Lowlifes. The people who are on the street because all who know them hates them. Or worse, the people who aren't on the street at all and just scam people because it's easier than working.)

Then, somewhere around 2019, the hassling pretty much stopped. I wish I could pinpoint a specific reason. I DID gain a bit of weight that year, and even more since—could THAT have scared them off? "Clearly, this joker ain't got no money for ME. He's puttin' it all in his belly!" Hey, who knows. All I know is, I enjoyed the respite.

However, in 2021, random beggars/oddballs once again became moths to my flame.
The first incident I remember was at our local grocery store sometime around October of 2021. A guy simply walked up to me as I loaded my groceries and asked me for something to drink. I indulged him with a soda I'd just bought. He left, grateful.

Then, at our local laundromat, a gal straight up asked me to "take (her) down the street". Granted, she was carrying what looked like recycling, and there is a recycling center "down the street". But why ask me and not any of the 10 other people around? I politely declined her request. Surprisingly, no scene was made.

Next, the first guy accosted me at my car again at the grocery store. This time, I was slightly (considerably) less friendly, since he kind of startled me and wanted a cigarette instead of a drink. "Didn't I just give you something last week?" I semi-snarled. He backed off and I haven't seen him since.

Back at the local laundromat one night, a woman had a long, serious conversation with absolutely no one. After throwing my clothes in the dryer, I headed for my car. Little did I know, the woman was hot on my heels. I cracked my window and she—get this—asked for a ride somewhere.
I told her the truth: I don't take strangers in my car anymore due to past bad experiences. She promised to be good, but I cut her off and firmly stated "The answer is no." She shuffled off, never to be seen again that night. (See? She didn't NEED a ride after all! She just needed some inspiration.)

I was offended that this chick thought I was stupid enough to fall for her sob story.

Then Josie and I went to San Francisco just to hang out around Oracle Park before Game 5 of the Giants/Dodgers 2021 Division Series. We walked a couple laps around the area before stopping to take a rest behind the ballpark. There, a gentleman who appeared to be homeless decided to chat me up.
I kept waiting for him to ask for something, anything, but he never did. Instead, he shared some fairly impressive knowledge of the 2021 49ers, right on down to the competition between 49ers quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. It was actually a good 10-minute chat. Though I had my guard up the whole time, there was no hint of the behavior I've come to expect from people on the street. This was no stereotypical bum.

This period of renewed popularity with the randoms thankfully only lasted about a month. To increase my odds of being ignored, I'm no longer A) parking on that side of the grocery store parking lot, and B) sitting in my car outside the laundromat. If the masses can't spot my "kind eyes", they won't single me out.

Since that horrible October day in San Francisco, I can't recall being hassled by anyone for any reason except when my wonderful daughter needed more and more cash as she and her friends tornadoed through San Jose's Eastridge Mall.

Being showered with attention is a dream come true for some, but this guy is totally fine with being ignored...
...unless you happen to know FOR SURE if Garoppolo is getting traded...

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