The few times I’ve given money to beggars, it’s usually to people who are clearly disabled. A bit discriminating, I know. Most of the time I’m reluctant to give money to beggars — especially if they’re asking for it. It’s kind of weird, if they’re not asking for money, then they’ll have a better shot at getting it from me.

Now, I don’t have anything against giving. I prefer to donate to reputable charities though, since they can better determine the use of the funds than I can. That’s probably the reason why I’m reluctant to give money to beggars — I’m unsure of what they’re going to do with the money.

It seems there are always those stories about fake beggars, people that pretend they’re poor so they can get a hand-out. I always thought they were exaggerations, until I heard a story from an old friend last night.

My friend worked at a restaurant in the Costa Mesa area, and they have a frequent beggar that shows up occasionally around the restaurant. Feeling sorry for her one day, due the female beggar’s ragged appearance and what not, my friend decided to give her some food from the restaurant — since the person seemed hungry.

Right when my friend told me that, I thought she’ll tell me that the beggar refuse the food & wanted money instead, which wasn’t the case. The person thanked her for the food and ate as if it was the last meal.

Days later, my friend bumped into the same beggar, this time, wearing stylish clothes and covered with jewelry. Hmm. The “beggar” was embarrassed to be caught, gave a weak smile as a form of apology, and hurried off away from my friend’s gaze.

“I couldn’t believe it! The last time she totally looked like the real deal. Ragged clothes, messy hair, dirty fingers, etc.” my surprised friend told me.

And I guess I couldn’t believe it too, I haven’t heard many stories like this directly. It’s usually an indirect story from someone else, hearing it from another person.

“Now that I think about it,” my friend continued, “I’d much rather give money to those with the funny signs. You know, the guys with the signs that reads: Let’s be honest, I just want money for booze & crack.”

And that made me wonder. Are those beggars just trying to be funny, were really being honest, or just using a different tactic while on the job?