I saw a similar discussion to this on DCF a few weeks ago but paid no attention to it even though it is becoming common place to be approached by panhandlers in the NE Heights. Store parking lots and street corners are their usualy hangouts. But there I was, two arms deep into our front loader washing machine trying to pull the dead motor out so I could replace it with the new sparkling clean one in the box next to me. Then I hear the door bell. Then I hear the dogs trot to the door. The door is open but the screen door is closed. I don't hear the typical "dog dance" I would hear if it were someone they knew so I knew it was a stranger.

The bell rings again.

I pull my arms out of the dead washer. They are covered in lint, grease and some blood from a nick I got on a bracket. "Just a second!" I yell.

I get to the door. I am sweaty, bloodied on one arm and dirty. At the door a dis-shoveled, heavy set women seems startled at my appearance. She stammers for a second.

"...eh... excuse me but my daughter just got out of the hospital, I need thirteen dollars to buy her meds."

"Okay, let me see what I got."

I turn to rummage through some loose change in a cup on the kitchen counter. Then I hear her try to enter. I turn quickly and tell her to wait outside. I see a man has joined her.

"Could we come in?" he asks.

"No. This dog bites." I'm pointing to our heeler/pit cross. Her eyes are set on the couple.

I quickly make my way to retrieve the cup of change. When I return, they are gone. I step outside to see if they are lurking about but spot them a few houses down. I watch them for a while as they seem to pick and choose which home they approach. Back inside, the dogs are crashed like nothing happened. I latch the screen and return to the dead washer.

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Pistole. Locked door. Dogs are good. But what really seems to work for me as a deterrent with panhandlers, JWs, and assorted door lurkers other than Obamans evidently is... lots of devil masks across the walls of my porch!
I too have had a problem with a panhandler who has come to my door at least 7 times now since winter, money for his rent or to help his father (plus other times I'm sure when I have not been around). My wife and I will help people if we feel someone really is in need, like buy them a fast food meal rather than give money. He acts polite. I helped him twice and perhaps that "fed the monster". One time he actually paid me back when he said he would but came back 3-4 days later asking for more money and I begin to feel the harassment, like he was up to something else. Told him no but said,"We can go see if my church pastor can help you." Immediately he got defensive and said he "already asked for help there." I don't have to worry about giving him money as I have none, especially being unemployed with medical bills up my rear but it's like abuse and affects my own sense of security. I don't know what the City of Albuquerque's laws are about panhandling, especially to a private residence, if there even are any? Also are there any social service agencies he can go to, or agencies that will provide health care to the elderly, if he's telling the truth?
It's very interesting that this thread resurfaced as just this Sunday, a young girl, 10-12 years old, came to our door asking for money for the Children's Hospital. Her clothes were well worn and she looked like she could use a good clean up. She had a plastic New Mexico Lobos cup,like what you would get at a Lobos game or something, except it looked like it had been run over by a car. My first instinct was to press for more info. What school? Do you have a form? Is it tax deductible? But instead I went to the loose change cup in the kitchen, scooped a handful and dropped it in the battered Lobo cup. From the sound of it hitting bottom, there wasn't much in there.
A few years ago, I was attending UNM and was living in an apartment in the area. One night not too long after I had moved in, there was a knock on the door. There was no peephole from the inside, but there was an outer screen door - the kind where you could look out but couldn't see in from the outside. So I looked out and a dishelved man was standing there. He asked me - get this - if I had any tequilla I could sell him for a dollar or two. I told him that I didn't have any tequilla or any other kind of alcohol, and he proceeded to ask me if I could give him a plastic cup in case he found someone with some tequilla. I said I didn't have a cup either and closed the door. It made me nervous so I reported it, but I didn't see him hanging around after that. There was another time I was walking to school, and a man approached me and said he was not going to lie and that he needed money for booze. I guess he expected that I would give it to him for being honest. But I said sorry, I didn't have anything and kept walking.

The problem is that you can't always tell who is just down on their luck and who is just trying to get their next fix. It makes me feel bad if I have a few extra dollars in my purse that I don't absolutely need and I encounter someone who may need them a lot more than I do...but they may just be trying to pull the wool over my eyes, too. I think most people with any sort of compassion for others want to help those in need when they can, but at the same time they don't want to be wasting their time and money on people who really aren't starving and don't have children to feed or don't really need enough gas to get to Denver to see their sick mother. There could actually be people in these situations (and I'm sure there often times are), but one has to wonder if they're really helping someone or just helping them get deeper into whatever habits they are trying to support.

I started offering to buy people food instead of handing them money when I was able to. I've encountered people who appeared gracious and humble (one elderly gentleman in particular said he wanted to go to McDonald's and get something off of the dollar menu, just so he wouldn't have to eat out of the trash. When I said it was okay if he got a soda too, he declined and said there were places he could drink water. He didn't ask me for additional money, either), people who tried to take advantage of me (such as wanting to order $15-$20 worth of food even at places like McDonalds without indicating that they were getting food for someone else as well), and people who were downright nasty to me (one guy said he needed money so he could buy food from wherever he wanted instead of where I offered to go). There was one time when I offered to buy someone food and he told me that I could bring him anything but he didn't want to go inside because he was dirty. I came out not even 5 minutes later and he was gone. I looked around for him but couldn't find him. So now if I offer to buy someone food, I tell them that they must go with me and order it for themselves and that I can only afford to spend x amount of money.

What really gets to me (and I'm sure others will say this too) is when a panhandler has children with them and says "I need money for these kids". But then again, there's no real way of knowing if they really intend on using that money for the kids of if they're using their children as part of their scheme. As sad as that sounds, some people will resort to this. I was once approached by a woman in the parking lot of the Walgreens at San Mateo and Montgomery. She had three kids with her, and one of them was a baby. She said she needed money for gas and diapers for the baby. I said I didn't have cash and that all I had was my card, but I had to run into Walgreens and would pick up a pack of diapers if she told me what size. So I got a small bag of diapers and gave it to the woman when I left. A few days later, I went back to the same Walgreens for something and - you guessed it - the same woman was in the parking lot. She approached me again and gave me the same story. I said "Weren't you here the other day and asked me the EXACT same thing?" She said no, that must have been someone else (even though I knew it wasn't), but when I came back out (I didn't offer to buy anything this time) the woman, the kids and the truck they'd all been standing around were gone.
Boy, up here at 4th and Griegos we never get panhandlers at our door. We do, however, get the neighborhood Jehovah's Witnesses. I returned the favor by teaching their son (a third grader) about evolution when he was playing near my front yard recently. I like the devil masks idea, though. Where does one get devil masks?


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