Monday, September 17, 2007

How Much Do You Make? A Beggar's Salary

Jacques Callot: Beggar, 1622

Dpasquella mentioned on her blog recently that she overheard this woman talking (unprovoked) about her salary. At first, it hit me how in America people shun talking about salary. It's great for bosses, who can hire cheap. In fact, it's rather well known that the only way to make money here is to switch jobs. Your current one will never give you the promotions you deserve, yet all new hires get the new pay scale, which can rival your accumulated one over many years.

But then, people who on the street openly 'brag' about how much they make get annoying. I hear a lot of money talk in New York. From people who talk about paying 'only $400 for a pair of pants' to the 500+ spent on one pair of shoes and beyond.

Her story reminded me of a similiar one that happened while I was a temp, just out of college.

I was tired and it was late. Instead of cooking, I took a quick stop at Taco Bell to buy myself some cheap and (to me at least) edible grub for dinner. In line was this gentleman with a huge wad of cash, it was just bills upon bills. He was talking to a younger man about it.

"Yeah man, I cleared, like 250-300 dollars today man!" he said. The other kid oohed and aahed appropriately, and asked how.

"Begging man, everyone can spare a dollah! Everyone!"

So I turned around at that point, and asked if it's true.

"Yeah man, it's the holidays, you know? Christmas Spirit. I clear like 250 in 5 hours."

So he was working less hours than me, and bringing in way more (tax free) dollars.

"So, can you buy me a burrito?" I asked, since he had way more than me and 'everyone can spare a dollar.'

He laughed at first, then replied, "no man, gotta buy my woman some stones, you know? She wants diamonds and some shit."

I also found out he lived in a rather nice place, with his 'woman,' on Riverside Drive. He funded this fully through his job, begging.

Beggars and Prostitutes, I think they are the oldest of professions. And there will always be a place in society for both. Beggars do serve a purpose. I've had this discussion with some nurses at my old job. They provide us the chance for charity, to show we care. To some extent they lift us up because 'hey, at least we don't have to beg on the streets for money!' They also serve as warnings for parents to use on their children, "Do you want to end up like him honey?"

But I can't help to think it's a bit perverse that this beggar earned more than I earn, even now. That his was a life of 'stones for his girl' and an apartment overlooking the river. And all this by asking others if they can spare a dime while wearing the ultimate in casual work clothes.


Amel's Realm said...

This has been a VERY interesting read for me, Vic. What an irony, eh? But I agree with you that it IS a bit perverse. Even though prostitutes may get a lot of money, at least they pay a big price for it, but beggars don't really pay a hefty price to get all those money IMO.

GO! Smell the flowers said...


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Please post a comment at GO! Smell the flowers on the ' we have a winner' post to accept your prize and who or where you'd like the flowers to go and then we'll email you the special free flowers code!

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Tomas Karkalas said...

I have read your post with great interest and ... thank you.
Can a beggar invite you to visit his blogs?
I dont know if that will be my answer, but I hope you will see there more joy than my Lithuanian-English could dream to put into the foreign words.
Welcome to my Captain bridge (and to all other my locations on web that are listed there

Grateful disabled without any right to do anything except to share his love with all for a free.

GO! Smell the flowers said...

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We'll email you the special code in the next couple of days so you can make your Grans day!

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Victorya said...

Amel - yeah, it's an interesting dilemma. Some of the beggar's really do need the money, people down on their luck, those that are mentally ill. But others just work the system. PArt of me just wishes both were unionized and legal. Give the beggars and prostitutes health care, a way to protect themselves, etc.

And thanks Go! I do appreciate it, a lot! I look forward to going to your blog more often.

Starbuck and Torrey said...

That's an amazing story! Incredible!

Liss said...

there's a beggar on the country club plaza outside the borders bookstore there. They've taken him to court and can't do anything about him. I think I was told he's been on like 20/20 or something. That's how he makes his living, begging.

Obviously I'm doing something wrong in life.

Victorya said...

liss - makes you wonder, doesn't it? I've got another beggar's story too, after I get up the depression inventory I'll have to post it.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Wow! That's incredible! Seriously, why am I working my arse off?