Last night I pulled into the little parking lot next to Catbirds. I was meeting my friend Theo for some drinks. She and I hadn’t seen each other since back in the days when we were in the sketch comedy troupe together. We hugged briefly as we said our hellos, and then we headed to the bar. I was just putting my hand on the door handle when the dude standing next to the door asked for some money. I said, “Sorry, man, I don’t have any cash,” which was true. His response? “Lying bitch.”
Sure that I misheard him, I asked him to repeat himself. He did. “Lying bitch.” Without even thinking about it, I yelled “FUCK YOU” at him as I opened the door to the bar and entered. The seven or eight people who were sitting there having drinks had all stopped talking and were looking our direction. I said, “Ha ha, FUCK YOU, that’s how I always enter a bar.” One guy said, “Did you just say fuck you to that dude?” and I said I had (confused about how there could be any confusion about what had just happened). He said he thought that was awesome. I think it would have been awesome if it had earned me a free drink, but what the hell.
So, what’s the deal with the people begging for money becoming such self-righteous assholes? Whenever I’m confronted with someone asking for, scratch that, demanding money (which is multiple times a day, generally), I always am respectful yet firm. It’s all or none – either I give to everyone who asks or I give to no one. That’s too tough a decision to make in a split second, so years ago I opted to quit giving away my money in that manner. There are many other, more legit, forms of charity. That doesn’t mean I’m rude or demoralizing to the people who beg. I just let them know that I’m not going to be cajoled or chided into giving money. No means no. But there’s been some sort of global shift in the attitudes of the people on the street (the non-crazy ones, I should specify). You never really know if they’re truly “street people” or just some random stinky asshole who wants to get high for free. Or a combo of both.
I hope next time I can restrain myself from yelling fuck you when a guy who’s begging for my money calls me a lying bitch, but I’m not going to hold my breath.