i went to the mall after school one day, because i'd not been in a looooooong time, and also because i'd gotten a five dollar gift certificate in the mail to waldenbooks. it's great- you sign up for a little card that says waldenbooks on it, get endlessly annoyed by email messages that tell you all about the anime books you could be buying RIGHT NOW, and once in a while they throw you five bucks. anyway. i decided to use it before i forgot about it till after it'd expired. while i was at the mall, i got some much-needed exercise (it's amazing how hard it can be to find the ONLY store you frequent in such a not-so-big mall when you only go about once every five months), bought some overpriced lipgloss at macy's cause i really like Benefit, and that's the only place you can buy it without having to order it from the catalogue, and bought the 50th Anniversary Edition of A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (it comes with a cd with him reading 10 count'em 10 of his poems). as i meandered around the mall trying to find my way back to dillard's, where i parked, a forty-something year old semi-homeless looking guy walked by me and said something like "hello" or "it's a nice day, isn't it?" or something like that, so i decided, "hey, i just dropped a hundred dollars on stuff i don't need, but saved five dollars, mind you... i'm in a good mood." so i said hi back, and kept walking. mistake. (the saying hi part, not the kept walking part)
as i turned my head back to where i was walking, the guy made some sort of "uh" or "oh" noise, turned around, and started talking to me. "hi, uh, i've been here a while, and uh i was downstairs and uh all the security guards know about it and uh my uh wallet uh and i need some uh money to call a cab so i can leave and uh..."
note to all men over 30 years of age: if you are unbathed, on mind-muddying drugs, very large, very wirey, very homeless, or otherwise scary looking, you DO NOT approach women under 30 and ask them for money. especially if they are alone. and even if you aren't scary looking, you still do not bother women who don't know you. it's just one of those things that you'd think even unbathed, drug-muddied homeless guys would know.
anyway. i was almost ready to panic, but i noticed that there was a security guard not to far off, so i figured i'd try to bow out gracefully, and if the guy didn't let me, i could always make a scene to grab the attention of the guard and all the people in that half of the mall. it would be fun.
i told him "i'm sorry, i don't carry cash," turned around, and left. nothing happened.
my conclusion is that homeless men, broke men, and any other kind of men soliciting money from complete strangers should stay on the medians at intersections with signs made of cardboard and/or newspapers to sell. i have given money to these people. i feel safe sticking my hand out the window while waiting for the light to turn, because i know that my doors are locked and i will drive away very soon. however, i never have, and never will, give money to any stranger who approaches me in a place of business, or even worse, in the parking lot. people sitting or standing on a sidewalk where there is a lot of foot traffic, maybe. but i prefer approaching them, and not being approached by them.
one interesting anecdote, and then i'll be done: a friend of mine was in a parking lot for the bus station (she leaves her car there, then rides the bus in to town for school, cause it's cheaper that way). she had gotten off the bus, and was heading for her car when she saw a man walking towards her. she hurried up, and got in her car. the man continued walking towards her car, and she didn't feel comfortable anymore. so she leaned on her horn. she only released when the man had turned around and left. i think she was a little rude, or obnoxious, or something, in doing that, but. that's the type of thing that happens to guys who have absolutely no social awareness. you are forewarned. if you act like a creepy suspicious guy, you will be treated as one.