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Thread: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

  1. #1

    Default So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Long story short:

    Wife goes into the grocery, and I pull out my hammok chair, my music notes, my mandolin, and start practicing in the parking lot of the grocery near the mid to back end of the lot. You know, to stay out of the way.

    it doesn't take me long before someone walks over, and in a sympathetic tone says "Here, you look like you need this." and tries to hand me cash.

    Listen, I'm not proud, but honestly. I was dressed in nice clothes. Button up shirt, vest, and the like. And was sitting behind my vehicle with the hatch up blocking the sun a bit. I swear i didn't look homeless or really poor. That, and I was holding a few hundred dollars of mandolin. So I smiled, told them I'm fine and just practicing, and went back to playing...

    After the third time this happened. I tried something new. I took a battery powered amp kit and microphone setup, obviously new equipment. Dressed up in formal-ish cloths, including tie and such, and sat back to do it again.

    I had even MORE people assume I was a starving homeless man.

    I can only assume I look absolutely scruffy at this point.

    This happening to anyone else? It's not like I'm setting out a hat or case for money. Hats firmly on my head and case is stowed tightly into the hatchback.

    Thoughts? I mean, really. "You look like you need this?"

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  3. #2

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Unfortunately, in my area, people who are actually busking are lucky to get anything. Perhaps you should be flattered.
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  5. #3

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Perhaps they were commenting on how bad your music was??

    Just kidding of course, maybe it is the time of the year, Christmas and the holidays and all that.
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    ha! i'd have just put out a hat. That will either chase them away or allow you to start a fund for a gilchrist or something ...
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    fishing with my mando darrylicshon's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Many times it has happened to me, at work I usually have many hours off before I go do the load out I work as a stagehand / guitartech so I have lots of dead time, I love playing in the parking garage, it makes my mandolins sound great, I always have people trying to give me money, I used to not accept it, but now I usually say thanks, last time it happened i was at my bus stop it was almost an hour late so I pulled out my mandolin walked away from everyone else and started playing, well the bus took at least 30 more minutes and a guy walked up and handed me a 5 dollar bill, I said I'm just passing time waiting on the bus , but thanks and put that $5 in my pocket
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  9. #6

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Ha, if someone wants to give me money I’ll take it!

    Seriously though, years ago I helped a colleague get thru the sudden death of her husband, after everything was done she sent me a thank you card with some cash for me and my hubby to go out thanking us for our help. We felt funny accepting it but she really wanted us to have it, we donated it to a local charity and went out anyway, toasted her and her family, and told her we had a great time.

    So I say, don’t overthink it, say thank you and if it makes you feel better go throw it in the nearest charity pot for the holidays.
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  11. #7

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Great story! Might have something to do with location, I'm guessing. In the South, I've seen a version of your story, where the wife goes into the store and the husband is in the parking lot with the car and gets out a box of cleaners, polishes, rags, etc. from the trunk and starts "detailing" the car -- again, nothing wrong with it, perhaps a little weird, but the guy likes his car and is just killing time.....(actually have seen this quite a few times...)

    But, I'd say if somebody was handing me money, I'd take it......

    Actually, I had one better than that! I was walking down the street to the corner store and a lady pulls up beside me, rolls down her passenger side window and asked if I had eaten today.....I told her I was fine. Then I wondered what I must look like to the average citizen.......?

    Or maybe we could modify and old comeback line like, "I'm not homeless, but I do play one on tv!"

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    I think I can relate . . .

    Several years ago I was sitting in bar with two friends - and several other strangers were also seated immediately around us . As all of us were chatting, my friends ordered mixed drinks and appetizers, and the bartender served them without saying a word. When the bartender came for my order, I asked for a beer. After placing my order, the bartender looked at me, paused for a moment and then said; 'That will be $5.00 . . . is that okay?'

    The guys seated around us were howling with laughter as they said; 'She obviously doesn't think you can afford $5.00, because she has never asked any of us a question like that.'

    To this day, I still haven't lived that one down.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    As in real estate it's all about location, location, location.

    I've taken my mandolin a few times to nearby city and state parks, sat on a picnic bench and played a few tunes. Never an offer of cash, even though I'm an older guy with beard and ponytail, dressed in beat-up Carhartt work clothes (one of the perks of being retired, I can stop caring about what I look like).

    If I had set up in the parking lot of the local grocery store instead, that would be a prime location for panhandling, and I might get a few bucks thrown in the case. Like the exit of the local MacDonald's, or the parking lot of the local food co-op.

    I don't think it was your dress, or your playing. It was the location. I have nothing against the homeless or panhandlers, and occasionally contribute. Just pointing out that some locations for busking or panhandling are chosen for the guilt factor -- the idea that you're leaving with a full shopping cart, and here's someone nearby who is worse off and could use some help. Marketing 101.

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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Maybe this is the Universe's way of telling you to quit your day job and take up busking

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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Sometimes we get flashes of what we must look like to other people.

    I have always walked to and from work. About 10 years ago, I got a call one afternoon that one of my kids had crashed his bike and his arm looked kind of funny, so I set off the mile home. It started pouring—one of those five-minute afternoon monsoon rains—so I took shelter on the covered porch of a somewhat skeezy neighborhood liquor store. One of the frequent flyers came out, looked at me, said "I don't what's going on with you, lady, but you need this more than I do," and pressed about 68¢ into my hand. It was incredibly sweet.

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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?


  17. #13
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolish Frost View Post
    ...Dressed up in formal-ish cloths, including tie and such, and sat back to do it again.

    I had even MORE people assume I was a starving homeless man.
    That actually makes sense. I have been told that Americans spend their last dime not on food but on fine clothing to make it through the next job interview. Only a man rich enough to not take it seriously can afford to wear a tee and cap.

    Either that, or it is true that people are "crazy for a sharp-dressed man"
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  18. #14

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    I was out walking a while back, when this old guy with unkempt hair and a four day growth of beard, threadbare old shirt and jeans with holes in them asked me directions to a local head shop. He needed vape supplies. I knew where it was due to the building being painted psychedelic 60s. I was wondering why he would ask me directions randomly like that when I turned and caught a head to toe reflection of myself in a store window.

    Oh, now I get it.
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    Registered User Dave Fultz's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    This thread is so funny *and* so sweet sometimes.

    1. No one would ever see me and think I ever missed a meal.
    2. If I was playing outside and someone gave me money, they probably would also say, “Now, go somewhere else!”

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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    A few years ago, my step-daughter and her husband went out for a meal in a local posh restaurant. He is relatively small in stature and looks quite young. Having placed their order, it was clear, from remarks made by the staff, that they were concerned that he had the wherewithal to settle the bill which somewhat annoyed him. In retalliation he then ordered a bottle of their best Champagne.

    He actually owns a car repair business in the next town employing several people. It’s unwise to go purely on appearance.

  21. #17
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolish Frost View Post

    Wife goes into the grocery, and I pull out my hammok chair, my music notes, my mandolin, and start practicing in the parking lot of the grocery near the mid to back end of the lot. You know, to stay out of the way.
    You get to play mandolin while the wife does the shopping....you sir, are a rich man!
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foolish Frost View Post
    ... Thoughts? I mean, really. "You look like you need this?"
    They probably thought you were playing a uke.
    -- Don

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  24. #19
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Very true that it's unwise to judge by appearance. The city where I live is home to many people with trust funds, and a lot of what used to be called "remittance men," black sheep from wealthy families, often with an agreement that the checks keep coming as long as they stay on the far side of the Rockies. The worst-dressed guy in the room often has the most money.

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  26. #20
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Consider another approach and embrace the tips -- for someone else's good.

    Get a large plastic tip jar (flat-sided plastic fishbowls work great), put a sign on it stating that all tips go to a local charity that folks care about, and set it on a little table in front of you. Shouldn't be too hard to find a worthy recipient that everyone trusts. You'll get your practice time in, and you might raise a few bucks for an outfit that needs community support.
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  28. #21

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Maybe the money was for lessons!
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  30. #22
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    I have a couple of friends that, when they are walking in downtown Portland, play a game called "Hipster or Homeless". Basically trying to tell if the person walking toward them is...a Hipster or Homeless person.

    It can be hard to tell sometimes.

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  32. #23

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiltman View Post
    I have a couple of friends that, when they are walking in downtown Portland, play a game called "Hipster or Homeless". Basically trying to tell if the person walking toward them is...a Hipster or Homeless person.

    It can be hard to tell sometimes.

    Kirk
    Good point! Or, stated another way, I attended the giant vintage guitar show in Arlington, Texas with hundreds of sellers and thousands of guitars -- my buddy says, "keep in mind, everyone of these guitar dealers started out wanting to be a rock star........!"

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  34. #24

    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    I was going to say “don’t confuse busking with panhandling, or buskers with homeless people”, but location and context are everything. It’s interesting that people responded as if they were being compassionate to a panhandler rather than enjoying the music.

    However, I’m not clear why you got an amp and dressed sharp to -not- busk in the parking lot. Those are signs that you are performing, not that you’re wealthy, even tho hiding behind your car is an unusual staging choice.

    Sounds like you were bringing out the best in people though, so I wouldn’t take it too hard that they decided to do a small good deed.
    If you don’t need the money, by all means accept it and pass it on!

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  36. #25
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: So... They seem to think I'm starving and homeless?

    Sadly, busking and begging are often confused, though busking is a great way for a person to get both practice and performing experience. Many professional musicians started out as buskers. Loreena McKennit, the singer and harpist, comes to mind. I remember her busking outside St. Lawrence Market in Toronto about three decades ago. While many of us regard buskers as entertainers, many others see them as poor people desperate for a meal or as "nuisances." To them, performing in the streets isn't "respectable." This attitude goes way back at least to medieval and renaissance times. (Granted, some buskers are a nuisance; in the '8o's, I was ready to throttle the next teenage guitarist that I heard hammering out Neil Young songs.) I realize that you weren't busking, Frost, but people associate performing outdoors in a public space with busking, so do that and you'll soon discover their attitudes toward buskers. Here's my experience, posted previously:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...hlight=busking
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    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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