Pizza, The Zoo and Handouts
This is a conflicting thought in my head. I sling pizza’s at night one or two times a week til 3 or 4am. So we see a lot of homeless or hungry people coming in all the time asking if we have any old pizza or left overs. When you first start working there they let you know that you NEVER give away food. NEVER. And it seems shocking and mean spirited, at first.
One of the guys I work with cannot say no when asked for a handout. It kills him to do it. And finally one night a mom with 3 little kids asked for anything we had for them and he gave it to them. It was impossible not to, the kids looked hungry. And it felt great to see their faces light up. And everyone there realized that hey, maybe we should help out when we are able. You can’t sell a 3 hour old pizza, so why not?
Eventually there wound up being about 5 people that would come around once a week for handouts. And they all had their specific days. Looking back, they probably had 6 other restaurants they would cycle through all week. But instead of being grateful and happy for whatever we happen to have had that night, they were starting to get pissy and asking for different toppings and even leaving requests for next time.
It came to a head when they would order food and when we would ask for money they would explain that they have no money and that they get them for free, followed by their sob story. While they were holding their $7 pack of smokes. Anyways . . . finally one night we caught one of them stealing money out of the tip jar. And we went back to the NEVER give away food policy.
After thinking about this, and this might seem cruel to you but this is as honest as I can be about this, this is why they tell you not to feed the animals at the zoo. If the zoo let you feed the animals, the animals become dependent upon you to feed them. They actually become aggressive in nature and demand it of you. The zoo feeds them in the best way, making sure they work for some of it and do it the right way. And that is exactly what it felt like feeding the hungry/homeless the pizzas. They started to feel like they had a right to the free food and offered nothing but anger in return when they were told sorry, we’re out. Some even started to bring friends. They would even sit in the lobby all night asking people for food or yelling at us for not having anything free. I bet half of them weren’t homeless.
I know that people in need don’t act like this, but this is what happens when others find out there are free handouts. The few come and ruin it for those who need it.
The only thing I feel sorry about is the mom with the kids that was starving and that we fed. She said thank you about 50 times. She never came back around, and if someone like her does come in for help, so many others have ruined it that we don’t do it anymore. Now don’t be a prick and pretend that I just compared homeless/hungry people to zoo animals. Because I did. My point is that the few that really need our help are going to miss out on it because so many other people are taking advantage of help that don’t need it, or are too lazy and milk people’s generosity and kindness and in turn ruin it for the truly needy. This isn’t a solution, just an observation from my perspective that pisses me off. I hope that people NEVER stop helping those in need, but I understand what happened to the pizza place and free handouts. It’s a conflicting thought in my head.