Today I saw something quite upsetting, and I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.
There are three homeless people in my neighbourhood who are seen regularily asking for change or handouts. One person has been asking for help since the mid-90s according to a few of my neighbours here, while another is relatively recent, having come into the area only six months ago.
Today I was in Richmond getting a few things for the upcoming week when I saw this newer bum in the parking lot of Lansdowne Mall. I don't mind seeing homeless people in different parts of the Lower Mainland, but what I saw today was this person getting into a car with some bags reading "Future Shop" and "Winners". Nobody else was in this car. Just him. He was driving!
I'll admit that seeing gas for the low price of 96.9 today was quite a shock (it's usually 10 cents higher here), but I didn't expect the change in price would allow the homeless to drive a car that's under 5 years of age.
Now, I must also admit that I did not strike up a conversation with this person to see if perhaps he was borrowing another person's car and running errands (which would still make me suspicious). But it strikes me as odd. Why would a person who has been asking for change at the corner of Granville & 70th in Vancouver be driving a car in Richmond? Does he live a decent life with what change he collects from the generous people that walk by? I had once brought this man a coffee on a day when it was just too cold to sit outside, and I can't even guess at how often I've given him whatever change I might have had in my pocket.
Some news reporters had caught a woman in Toronto doing this a number of years ago. She would beg for change outside some of the huge banks, and at the end of the day she would go home to her lavishly furnished, lake-front penthouse apartment.
While I doubt this person has a penthouse, I am curious to know if he's a legitimate person in need, or just another scammer. Of course if he is a scammer, how should I expose him for what he is? It's one thing to be truly needy. It's another to take advantage of the few good samaritans that are left.