In my job I go to a lot of Walmart stores, some of which are situated in strip mall areas.
From my tenure as a field service tech in Pittsburgh, it's nothing to see someone with their hand out, or someone holding a cardboard sign with some sob story or other.
Now where I live, I do a lot of my shopping in the town of Cranberry (not the township, world of difference). You can locate it in western Pennsylvania near the smaller town of Seneca, near Oil City and a half hour from Titusville, birthplace of the oil industry.
Cranberry ain't big, it ain't much, but it's there.
And one day heading to Walmart to do some work, what do I see but a beggar at the mouth of the parking lot, where you turn in from the road. Holding a cardboard sign and looking pathetic.
Reminded me of what looked like a family at the exit of the Walmart in Chippewa/Beaver Falls, PA, with a cardboard sign telling of how their car broke down and they have no money, etc.
A couple of days later I'm up north in Edinboro, minutes from Erie. That Walmart is in with a strip mall. One day on the way out is a girl who looked to be maybe 22 or so, holding a cardboard sign that says, "Lost everything: and a plea for "help", and by help we obviously mean a cash handout.
Today I saw yet another one in Clarion, a college town not far from Cranberry.
Saw one at the Butler Commons mall in my hometown of Butler, PA, with a cardboard sign, begging.
I can see all of this going on in the big city's downtown area, but we're not talking big cities here. Not by any means.
We're also talking areas where, for the most part, anyone who lived in one would be ashamed to stand out at the exit of a mall car park and beg.
I got further suspicious last week when the lady beggar in Cranberry left her post and went over to talk to a man who looked like he could help her out. They stood there and talked, and were still talking when the light changed.
My conclusion, there's something funny going on.
Of course, no one with a functioning brainstem gives these people a dime, they're healthy and within walking distance of businesses where they could easily apply for work, and some of them I know are actively hiring.
Is this scam happening anywhere else, or just in my area of western/northwestern Pennsylvania?
Listening to: The ceiling and PC fans spinning
Reading: The monitor screen
Watching: The monitor screen