To The Editor:
It is summertime, so expect to be accosted by panhandlers in the parking lots of Norfolk shopping plazas. I find it curious that many of these unfortunates do not appear to be homeless as they're wearing freshly laundered clothes and are obviously well-fed.
While most are harmless, some attempt to raise funds through either fraud or intimidation. Pocket change or offers of food or employment will get you an insult, as only "paper money" will satisfy them.
When three panhandlers approach in a pincer movement, or a disheveled stanger attempts to prevent you from entering or exiting your vehicle, it is not considered attempted robbery -- it's "freedom of speech."
If the Norfolk City Council will not address this problem, it is only a matter of time before this situation will escalate.
I am deeply sorry that you are uncomfortable being approached by poor people on your way into Nordstrom or headed back to the office after a $30 lunch at Kincaid's (I would be too). It is equally unfortunate that these poor people do not conform to your preconceived notions of poverty and homelessness. You're right: if people are going to ask if you can spare a dollar or two they should look a bit more dirty and gaunt. They certainly should not appear to have any self-respect, as that would make it more difficult for you dismiss them as second-class citizens.
As to these pesky streetpeople being well-fed, unless you have recently donated a shit-ton of wonderfulness to our local food bank, it is much more likely that they are subsisting on cheap fast food -- which we all know is fattening and unhealthy -- than that they have taken a brief break from gorging themselves to con you out of your spare change.
Jesus, whose message you conservatives so love to misrepresent, commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and flat out told us that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle (picture that!) than for a rich man to get into heaven. There's no ambiguity there. Give the panhandlers a dollar. It's not going to set you back that much. If you can't bring yourself to do that, maybe just stay away from shopping plazas for the rest of the summer. But good luck with that whole heaven thing.
And PS, you can't complain in paragraph one that panhandlers' clothes are too clean and then describe them as "disheveled" two paragraphs later. It makes it seem like you might be stupid or something.