Quadriplegic in Wheelchair Begging For Handout

“Quad: Please Help”

saw a homeless quadriplegic the other day while leaving a Minnesota Twins game. He had a sign on his lap that read, “Quadriplegic: Please help.”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’ve seen disabled veterans and those with mental disabilities on the streets before, but never someone with just paralysis begging for money. Using paralysis as a main pity card on your sign? Isn’t that stuff only in Charles Dickens’ novels and developing countries?

When I saw him we met eyes and had one of those shared moments where you silently recognize each other’s similar situation (he was a C5-6, and I’m a C5-6 quad. It’s hard not to notice when you see someone just like you out in the world). After that brief moment of acknowledgement, it was quickly gone, and I was instead overwhelmed with feelings of anger, disgust, and strangely pity.

Where was his pride? I thought. How could he put himself out there like that? Didn’t he care that he was putting people with disabilities back by at least 50 years with that sign? We kind of think similar things about all homeless people don’t we (able-bodied too)? How are we to know what it’s like to be in such a low place to have to beg? Even still, I couldn’t shake wanting to give him a piece of my mind.

As I got closer to him on the ramp, edging down to the road towards his chosen spot (he was parked in the middle of a wide sidewalk so people had to walk on either side of him), I decided to just give him “the look”. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the most adult thing to do, but I couldn’t help it.

Other people walking by may have just seen a guy in a wheelchair and thought, “Wow, that poor bastard,” but not me, I know what’s up. Sure, life with paralysis is definitely difficult, but begging because your paralyzed? I just can’t jive with that. I gave him a look that said, Shame, shame. What you’re doing is hurting the collective “us” and I am not pleased.

If it hadn’t been so crowded, I may have stopped and talked to him instead. I’d like to know his story. He was in his mid thirties, definitely not old (and old enough to still have a future). I know being paralyzed can compound so many life situations, but the sign…the sign…oh dude you just killed me.

Have you seen people with a similar disability to yours beg? What have you said or done (if anything)?

Photo courtesy of bobkat rock

7 replies
  1. Audacity
    Audacity says:

    The first thing I’d think about is what his background is. I don’t really have the best support system: many of my friends still don’t understand paralysis (and some left because of it), my family still doesn’t understand disability very well, most people I knew before are very put off by finding out that I’m now in a wheelchair, etc. In many senses of the word, I’m actually quite alone because of these circumstances. For everything from a job listing to just hanging out, I’m often overlooked by friends in favor of able-bodied friends. There’s almost nobody to reach out to if I need help – financially, career-wise, socially, etc.

    It makes me wonder if that person has similar issues as me in terms of a support system. I don’t think people would WANT to beg (or play the disability card in doing so). I wonder what drove him to do it and what his circumstances are.

  2. larry
    larry says:

    i refuse to act and live as a “handicap” and because of that my local rehab service people try to cheat me of my services and supplies each and every month. i did research and force them to assist me or it’s their job and state gets sued. i’m a c6-c8 quad. with that said…. i push my manual chair to town and back bc the trolley doesn’t service my area of town without paying extra. one day i was dodging cars when i saw a man in rough cloths park on one side of walmarts lot, walk to other side carrying big stuffed bag. he walked around checking everything out. he then left….i was watching from some cars i was hid between, about 75 yrds away. i wasn’t sure of his objectives. for safety i just watched til he left, then i went on about my day. the next day i came by there in my friends car (bc rehab refuses to help get a way to go bc i wont let them degrade me as helpless trash to be made a prisoner in my own home. if i’m restricted to home why would i need way to get around. if i agreed, in their paperwork, it would show they tried but i was restricted… they get paid and i loose services …. no tks) anyway, i saw this same rough guy get out his 2010 fancy hightop van, walk across parking lot with big stuffed bag and poster, sit on bag and start begging the 5th car that went by and all there after. as my friend and i left we went by him, his sign said… HOMELESS DISABLED HANDICAPPED VET, STUCK IN TOWN, GOING TO TN. PLS HELP, ALL APPECIATED, GOD BLESS. OH how mad i got…. but i was late for doc appointment.
    found out later he comes there often begging. mcdonalds manager say guy makes in change anywhere from $50.00 to $250.00 a day. the guy refuses work, food, and a ride. may GOD have fair and just revenge. that guy is gonna find out the hard way. BTW, i saw him leave one day, walks to his van, changes out of cloths into nice outfit throws bag in van walks around van then drives it away with his head up in the air. he saw me that day, he looked down at me, gave angry face and drove away.
    location… lenlock, in anniston, al

  3. Audacity
    Audacity says:

    There is, but without much support from family and friends, it’s still quite difficult. There’s really nothing that can make up for that, though I try.

    If someone truly doesn’t have any support from family and friends after paralysis, I can imagine how easily he/she can end up begging on the streets.

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