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The beggar and his reluctant partner

The guy made the usual loud racket as he came banging through the door connecting the Red Line train cars. He began his begging rap right away, except there was a twist.

He was dragging his 8-year-old son along, featuring him prominently in his pitch:

"Me and my son are in and out of shelters right now. Anything you can spare would be really helpful."

His son stood sheepishly with him, looking slightly embarrassed. He was eating the cuff of his jacket with eyes downcast. His dad then held him directly in front of him as he personally confronted every single passenger on the car, asking them for money.

And his success rate was a bit higher than what I usually see. Generally I rarely see a beggar score any cash at all. This guy got two passengers on my car to pony up.

But at what price to this poor kid?


Yes definetly using his kid to get pitty and handouts. I saw a man on the red line get hand out after handout while saying he was going to use it for alcohol. He said he was trying to get liqour as he was an alcoholic. You wouldn't believe the number of people whom gave him money. These people must have lots of money to waste. In my opinion handing out money to panhandlers is akin to feeding the pigeons. The more you feed the more your gonna have surrounding you. DO NOT FEED THE PIGEONS!

See link on side bar: http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=32736

"The bill also contains over $30 million to modernize the CTA Brown Line..."

I thought this was already paid for and almost completed with the original $530 mil??? Also these projects sound great and all but who is going to maintain the tracks? Who is going to clean and maintain the stations? Eventually these "improvements" will further put the system into financial stress and potential shutdown. Lets fix what we already have, and also find an increase in operations funding before building more lines.

Last time I saw a beggar on the Red Line (the well known, tall, lanky blind man) I was standing near the red button and I was tempted to call the conductor. When blind man was right along side me, I told him, "what you are doing is illegal, it might be best if you get off this train at the next stop." He challenged me and asked, "Are you telling me I gotta get off the train?" I just repeated, "you can't do what you are doing on the train." He ran down the aisle (as fast as one can in a packed rush hour train) and transferred to the next car. Should I have buzzed the conductor and said, "solicitation in car xxxx"? On the one hand, you have the law & the desire for an undisturbed ride but calling the cops, etc would delay all of us on our way home. Thoughts?

I always tell people to never, ever give money to panhandlers regardless of the story. They abuse people's common decency for their own gain and they are experts at it. This guy bringing along a kid (you don't really know it was his, do you?) is just one example of how far they are willing to go.

If they say that they are hungry, give them food. If they say they need to get somewhere, offer to pay their fare. Never, ever give them money!

Let me echo the above:

*NEVER* give money to a beggar. There is nothing a homeless person in Chicago needs that they can't get for free: food, clothing, shelter, medical care, school supplies, any day of the week.

Any money you give them will get spent on junk food, alcohol, drugs, prostitutes.

I saw this guy couple of weeks ago with his son. I agree with ebob and in fact, I gave the kid an orange from my lunch (which his father promptly took).

I've offered to buy food for people in the past and only a couple have taken me up on my offer. In fact, I watched one guy in a food court try to return the food I bought for him for the cash and then threw the food away when they would give him the money.

Sometimes, no matter what you do some people are going to work on their own self-destruction. I don't mind paying if I'm getting something in return, like Streetwise (only from badged vendors) or from street performers, but I'm not just going to give someone the money out of my pockets.

Yeah, those beggars really have it great, with all that free stuff they're getting.

Anyway, I saw this same guy & kid combo going home on the Blue Line the other day, and he got a good couple of bucks out of this woman who was on the train with her two kids and husband. The kid was squirming and fidgeting like crazy, and looked completely embarrassed while the dad was making his pitch. I felt horrible for him.

Poor kid.

come on people. is your train ride so sacred that you want to sick the cops on and condemn people that ask you for your spare change? if you don't want to give them money, cool, but let's not judge.

Once again, people using doors between trains for no good reasons...


I'm confused about the brown line money as well. I totally disagree with your assessment that expanding public transportation shouldn't be done. I think it can be done at the same time as we improve our infrastructure. Keep in mind that expanded transit will also bring in additional revenue.

I'd be willing to bet that wasn't his kid...

some people don't ride public transit because of the creepy characters like these homeless people. The homeless are bad for mass transit, a nuisance to riders, and should always be removed when they are violating rules that everyone else abides by.

If it's not his kid, where did he round him up from? Who would donate their kid to be a beggar's ringer for the day?

The Brown Line money is going toward the installation of cushioned seats and a bar car on every train.

What happened this a.m., by the way? Southbound Brown and Purples were backed up all the way from Belmont to the Mart. Was it the Lake/Wells switch? Pathetic. Every morning, the decision whether or not to switch to the Brown at Belmont (which cuts six blocks of walking off my trip) is a total crap-shoot.


I of course would love for these projects to be completed but I am just skeptical that we can maintain the increase in infrastructure. Who wants a new route that will eventually come into disrepair and neglect as other routes have. I guess what I am saying is show me the money, show me the funding source to maintain it.

This probably comes off as a bitchy question, but is this a situation where Child Protective Services should, or could, be called? Begging on the train in this city is to be expected, but using a kid?
I've also had experience where I had leftover food- rolls that I didn't eat, or even touch, wrapped up, that beggers won't take.

Actually, kilgore, it's my money that's sacred. I work two jobs for it and I don't appreciate some dude walking up to me during my few moments of down time on the train, which I'm usually riding to go from one job to the next, asking for my money that I work hard for. I consider the beggars no different from the jerks who don't use headphones to listen to their music--assholes.

"This probably comes off as a bitchy question, but is this a situation where Child Protective Services should, or could, be called?"

Not bitchy at all, Amy. If it was during school hours, the police should be called to remove the beggar and the child from the train and find out why a school-aged child is not in school and then they would contact DCFS. I'm also a little troubled by Kevin's description of the child's demeanor. It really seems like the kid didn't want to be there and knew full well his "father" was using him to appear more sympatheic.

"If it's not his kid, where did he round him up from? Who would donate their kid to be a beggar's ringer for the day?"

Crackheads or other drug addicts are only too happy to offer their kids up if it means more drugs. If this is the case, let's hope being used for panhandling is the worst this kid's experiencing.

Sorry about that last post. It sounds really aggressive and bitter. I've just gotten really tired lately of people treating El cars like they are in the own personal living rooms. I can't understand the total lack of consideration I see on the CTA and it's really bothering me. But what is there to be done?

Joe Blow,

Who knows where this beggar could have gotten this kid from? Serious drug addicts can be crafty people. If they can get a "schtick" that works better for begging, they'll do it.

chris, are you saying this child had been kidnapped?

I saw the kid and his father on the train the other night (Red Line). I offered a dollar. The kid took it.

So they took down Dorval's letter pretty fast. I kept checking to see if there would be an updated letter from the prez. According to a news story posted on the side R.Rod was officially apointed today.

I went to CTA Board meeting today. R.Rod today looked like a deer in the headlights when they were all talking (but not him!) about the fiscal problems. oh boy.

If the kid was really his, is it right to call DCFS? Obviously the parent isn't providing what the child needs.

It is appropriate to call DCFS anytime a citizen feels that a minor is being abused or neglected. Whether DCFS acts on the information is another matter entirely. Their budget is so tight at the moment it's been my experience that the allegation has to be pretty severe and able to be substantiated for them to intervene in any significant way.

I feel so bad for the kid. The father is disgusting and should be locked up.

That child was clearly being abused. I shudder to think of the home life of a child used in public this way. I just hope someone - the extended family, governmental agencies - save this kid from the adult who is not able to provide a safe and healthy environment.

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