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You would think Jacob’s Trouble had come to Proctor

May 22, 2008

I shop in a neighborhood I’d call middle-class with a qualified pretense of artsy class. I shop there because it’s close to home and the Safeway is small, which means less walking on hard floors. The Metropolitan Market across the street has organic beef and other things I can’t buy elsewhere. The neighborhood seems to have more economic fortitude than others. But today, for the first time in 15 years, a panhandler approached me in Safeway’s parking lot.

I was on my way to my car, with groceries. “Ma’am?” I thought, Where do you think you are?! I ignored her. Ma’am?” I’m human. I looked up at her. I thought I gave her a fairly hard look. “Would you happen to have a couple of dollars?” Would I happen to? Like it’s an accident that I show up for life prepared? Yeah, I have two bucks, and I’m saving them to take my Audi to the car wash. But I said only, “No, I would not.” She headed toward the store entrance.

I regretted not going back into the store and reporting her on the spot, but I was racing against my afternoon crash. I had done a lot of work all morning, and my energy dial was pointing toward Depletion. I needed to get home without more stress.

I was home within ten minutes, still seething. I called the store and reported the incident and gave a description of the woman.

“Debby, we’re not going to put up with this in Proctor! Panhandling is illegal in Tacoma, and she’s trespassing on Safeway property.” The lady in customer service agreed wholeheartedly, and she said she was sorry no one had been with me. I had declined help to my car. But if a store employee had been with me, the woman never would have approached, and this way at least I was able to report the incident.

You would think from my response that Jacob’s Trouble had come to Proctor, that the Great Tribulation had been unleashed. I’m too much of a preterist to think so. Recession or not, there have always been panhandlers, but not in this neighborhood. Times are toughening, but they offer no excuse to scofflaws.

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One Comment
  1. Jane permalink
    May 24, 2008 10:16 am

    I had the same experience at GoodWill a week or so ago; the young man said his car was at the Safeway gas station across the street, and he was out of gas. I wasn’t about to help support his drug habit. I should have said, “So if you’re out of money and gas, what are you doing on the road???” but I value my safety. Panhandlers are only outlawed here in Lacey. They are predictably present in their own turf spots throughout the West Side of Tumwater. GRRRRRR!

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