There’s a woman, young or old is hard to tell. She’s skinny, maybe even athletic-looking, neatly dressed in shorts and a nondescript top, her smooth ebony complexion ageless. She could be 25 and looks 40, or maybe 40 and looks 25.
At a glance, you sense she’s a panhandler. Yet maybe not. She doesn’t have that ragged look of people who sleep in the rough. She looks decently fed and healthy and clean. Middle-class, you’d think, if you met her at a bus stop and she said nothing to you.
But she is a panhandler. She works the Safeway shopping center in North Central Phoenix, at the intersection of Glendale and Seventh Street. They must have chased her way from the grocery store, because she haunts the little strip mall down by the restaurants and miscellaneous vendors. You’ll never see her in front of the Safeway, but you’ll often find her in front of the pizzeria or the deli or the Leslie’s Pool store. She walks around as though she were going somewhere, but it never takes long to see she isn’t going anywhere: just back and forth.
Today when I dropped by Leslie’s to pick up the newly repaired pool cleaner, she pounced as I came out of the store.
“Scuse me, ma’am, can I ask you…”
“I’m sorry, I don’t carry money with me.” (This happens to be true: I never carry cash, and of late I’ve stopped carrying a purse at all…for exactly this reason.)
“Oh, I don’t want any money, I just…”
Heard that line before. “No, I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
She trails me across the parking lot.
“But please, I just want…”
By now I’m at the car and need to toss the gadget into it and get in myself. I’m a little concerned that she’ll accost me at that point or try to get into the car, but experience suggests the fastest way out is the best way out.
She subsides and wanders away before I shut the door on her pitch.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen her perform this maneuver. I don’t know what she’s hitting people up for, but whatever it is, the chase-and-beg strategy is a routine.
Still. It’s haunting. Poor little thing. She was somebody’s baby girl. What the hell happened to her that she’s hitting up strangers in a parking lot, day in and day out?
What can be done?
Why? Because endlessly annoying Facebook will not pick up the image you want to illustrate your post. It wants to pick up the banner image, which, if it’s generically the same day after day, quickly bores readers or makes them think today’s post is a repeat of yesterday’s. So the only way to force FB to use an image that has anything to do with your post is to change the banner image to fit the subject of the day. That means today’s banner image (a historic photo of four Nazis, for example) bears no relation whatsoever to the topic of yesterday’s post (ruminations on power outages, for example). So annoying.