We live in a society where we come across various panhandlers, on our way to ourschools, colleges, workplaces, etc. All panhandlers seem to have variable purposes for beinginvolved in panhandling. Some panhandle for money to fulfill their needs like feeding their ortheir families stomach with nutritious or regular food. Others, however, panhandle to gain accessto elements that prove to be toxic to the human body such as cigarettes, liquor, drugs like heroin,marijuana, and weed. The ones who panhandler to get access to toxic elements find pleasure inutilizing them, however don’t realize that such things wouldn’t bring any profit to them, butrather harm. Panhandlers tend to choose the location where it is more likely for individuals topass by or come to, such as metro stations and adjacent grocery stores. Some pretend to beneedy, while others are actually needy.
In any case, it is upon the society to decide whether theythink a certain panhandler is needy or not, or if they should help them either way.I did my participant observation on a panhandler near a grocery store, which was a blockaway from the Avenue Z, Sheepshead bay subway station, early in the morning. A whitepanhandler, holding a small box for money in one hand and smoking a cigarette with the otherhand, was situated on a piece of cloth over an arbitrary spot of the sidewalk. She looked as if shewas in her early or mid 50’s. Wearing filthy dark sweatpants, and a white sloppy turtleneck witha dark faded hoodie on top, she held out her box for money towards the public passing by.Examining the surroundings, I came to find and anticipate, concerning why the panhandler had chosen the certain location. In light of the surroundings, one could foresee thatthe panhandler decided to sit near a grocery store, as various individuals in the neighbourhoodcome to get their groceries everyday. Moreover, she perhaps wanted to gain the furtheradvantage of having more individuals pass by, therefore, sitting near a grocery store that was ablock away from the subway station, which most individuals utilize, as their means oftransportation to keep their daily-life activities and duties running.
Doing my observation on themorning of Thanksgiving, I saw a sign next to the panhandler, which read out: ” HappyThanksgiving! I would love to eat turkey on a Thanksgiving day in the United States, but only ifI had enough money to feast myself with one.” Such indications of vulnerability appear to bringmore individuals consideration and drives their sensitivity towards helpless people.An important factor, which numerous panhandlers utilize is the revealing of vulnerabilitywith the aid of one’s non-verbal communication. This is exceedingly noteworthy, as it is perhapsthe basic thing that drives the sympathy of others aid. For instance, many of them wear torn dirtygarments, to pick up the concern of passersby. Other than this, another thing could be eye contactof the panhandler with the provider. One thing I observed about the panhandler was that once shesaw someone in particular passing nearer to her, she would say “Happy Thanksgiving,”wholeheartedly to the certain individual and along with that she would lower her cigarette, raiseher box for money, and have a direct eye contact with the individual with an appearance ofpowerlessness all over, In this way revealing that she is very well devoted to her action andconcerned with what the individual has to offer.
Many passersby, who read the sign and saw herdevotion towards striving in order to have a wonderful thanksgiving, would open their hearts tosympathy and put in as much cash as they felt like into her small box for cash.Giving thought to the time of the day the panhandler had chosen, I believe that she chosethe morning time since most people are off to their workplaces, colleges, and schools during themorning time of the day. Various individuals utilize the subway trains for transportation andmany pass by the route of the panhandler, thus making it more likely for her to interact and getaid in the form of money from them.In the middle of my observation, I saw a female passerby who saw the panhandlers signand stood there for a few seconds to read it carefully, She then came back after approximately 30minutes. She held a huge dish covered with a clean kitchen cloth in both her hands; steam risingfrom the dish accompanied by the mouthwatering aroma of freshly cooked turkey.
She happilyoffered it to the panhandler, who seemed to be surprised in a frustrated manner. The panhandler,however, glared at the women, and then said that she already ate. When the women suggestedon eating it later, she angrily yelled that she wasn’t hungry and therefore wouldn’t accept herfood. The women then took out a dollar bill from her pocket and put it in the panhandlers box, towhich the panhandler seemed to be more satisfied with and later thanked her for it. Later, thewomen with a frown on her face, left with the food she had freshly cooked for the panhandler. Afew minutes passed by when suddenly the panhandler got up and went into the grocery store. Shecame out with a fresh stick of cigarette and a lighter to lit her cigarette, and then started to smokefrom her new stick of cigarette.
After completing my observation of a white panhandler, I’m positive that I could revealthe similarities and differences I found with Bourgois and Schonberg’s article: “IntimateApartheid: Ethnic dimensions of habitus among homeless heroin injectors,” with those of theresults of my observation. In the article ‘ Intimate Apartheid” has portrayed two differentpanhandler from two different cultures. This Article somewhat related to my observation that Idid on the panhandlerIn the article “Intimate Apartheid” has described two kinds of panhandlers which isbelong to two different cultures. After reading this article, I become to know that white panhandlers doesn’t interact people a lot. They just seems needy that’s why people help themout and gave them money. Mostly white panhandler have a flyer sign in which has written suchwords as “God bless you”, “Help me please”.
White panhandler doesn’t bother people for theseek of money. The second kind of panhandlers is African Americans who doesn’t have aspecific spot for panhandling. They just panhandling in the streets or on roads. They speak loudto interact people. They don’t hold flyer sign with them. My observation is much similar with thecharacteristics of white panhandler.
Everyone behavior is different because of their culture. Thewhite panhandler whom I observed have the some sort of similar earning style which is describein the article. That white man doesn’t hold flyer sign but article describe that white panhandlersalways hold flyer sign.
I also believe that culture has played very important role in people’s’behavior. Everyone has their own culture which they has learn. People have different thoughts,attitude and behavior.
Culture has great impact on their behavior. African American and whitepanhandlers have different style of panhandling because of different culture. They react totallydifferent on situations to each other. They have different body posture. These characteristics arealso related to my participant observation. I observe the reason behind the white man’spanhandling method. He have a specific panhandling method because of cultural behavior andsocial interaction. As he is white man that’s why he has his own beliefs and different attitude.
Panhandlers like a white man who look needy because of his appearance and have not enoughmoney to buy food. These kind of panhandlers get more attention of people as compared toAfrican American panhandlers. People always judge other by their looks. They doesn’t thinkabout their problems.After my participant observation, I felt like I want to know about his real situation.
Which thingmade him panhandler. What is his needs which he can’t fulfill and he become panhandler. I alsohave one thing in my mind which made me think a lot.
When he get injured and he was not ableto panhandling then why he again come to his spot for panhandling. One day I was going tostore for buying something. I saw that white panhandler. He was sitting there alone at night. Noone is around him and he was sad and maybe crying because I can see his face clearly. I againstart observing him that where he will go? I observed him for 20 mins at night and become toknow that he is also a homeless man. But I think I still could not find his real situation forpanhandling. I done my observation which is thin description.
That observation doesn’t gave metoo many information because I can’t approach the panhandler. I personally think participantobservation is a great observation to know about people’s real behavior. Because if peoplebecome to know that they are under observation so they might can be change their behaviorand pretend a fake behavior.