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Shady secret of the Shaky Lady (Beggar rakes in the cash, then heads home in a Lumina)
Toronto Sun ^
| By MIKE STROBEL
Posted on 05/06/2002 6:09:17 AM PDT by Grig
She wears a shabby red jacket. Her hair is grey and scraggly under a faded purple kerchief. A garbage bag covers her legs. People throw money on it.
Lots of people. Sometimes they line up.
"She got here about 11," says Const. Paul Stone, 50, on traffic duty at a construction site. "She started shaking as soon as she sat down. She's just rakin' it in now."
At Harvey's across the street, photographer Alex Urosevic and I do some figuring.
Thirty people in 15 minutes, Alex counts. Fifty in the time it takes me to eat a veggie burger and sip a coffee.
So, be very conservative and say 50 kind strangers an hour, a toonie each, five hours a day, five days a week.
That's $2,500 a week. Net. I mean, what's the overhead? How much do blue thermal pants and a garbage bag cost?
Several people in the area have told me she usually has two burly men keeping watch over her. Some think they're her sons.
If they're around, I can't spot them in the throngs.
"Please help me. I'm sick and poor. I will pray for you," says the cardboard sign around her neck.
I toss in a toonie. She gives me a toothless grin and croaks. The shaking is remarkable. How could you say no?
Shopkeepers and security staff say she has haunted Bloor between Yonge and Bay for at least a year.
"I was struck by her wretched appearance," says Agnes McKenna, 74, who lives nearby.
"I wondered, how could anybody be so heartless as to dump her on the street?
"A couple of weeks ago, coming home from a meeting, I see this woman suddenly get up, spry as a chicken. Her face becomes alive, she packs up her buggy and off she goes.
"Makes you feel like a fool, to be taken like that."
Toronto Police Const. Andrew Hassall once saw a woman so torn up about the Shaky Lady she bought her a $200 coat at The Bay. The beggar croaked her thanks, waited for the woman to leave, then threw out the coat. Hassall couldn't persuade the kind woman she'd been had.
The Shaky Lady is "the prima donna of this sort of thing," says Hassall. "She's been a thorn in our sides for years."
But the cops are stuck. Panhandling is legal.
For a while, I hide by the construction site behind the Shaky Lady. They are laying fibre-optic cable.
I can see each person approach the woman.
I see horror, pity. I see $10 bills, a few 20s. She tucks them under the bag. I think our income estimate is low.
At 4:30 p.m. she gets up, chucks the sisters' chicken fingers in the garbage and heads west on Bloor. There is no shaking. She moves faster and faster.
... I round the corner. A car, a Chevy Lumina, speeds in reverse.
A man drives, another sits in the back. The Shaky Lady, kerchief off, crouches in the passenger seat.
Caught without cover, I give chase. I can't read the plate. Alex is an alley away, trying to cut them off.
But the Lumina pulls out on Balmuto St., by the Uptown Theatre, then west on Bloor.
By the time I hail a cab and yell "follow that Lumina," it's gone.
Who knows where?
But I'm guessing it's not to a shelter for the homeless.
TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: homeless; panhandler; socialism
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For the report on the press confrence her LAWYER held, see this article
This lawyer is a member of a prestigious downtown firm, and the press briefing was in the firm's luxurious conference room.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:09:17 AM PDT
This reminds me of my now estranged father who declared bankruptcy this past fall and I saw him pull up in a brand new lincoln continental a couple of months later before even the discharge. He never had that car before...HUMMM...in fact he never owned a luxery car before.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:11:24 AM PDT
Begging like this has become an industry.
In Boulder, Colorado there is a beggar at virtually every intersection where the traffic is good.
Cracks me up to see a young, healthy college student sucking the cash out of the liberals pockets.
They put a little dirt on their faces, wear some extra shabby and soiled clothes and hold out their goofy god bless you sign.
Since you know they surf the web in their off time I expect to see them all start shaking this week.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:16:32 AM PDT
This is an old begging scam, going on as long as there have been beggars and suckers. There's even a Sherlock Holmes story about a successful Victorian businessman who begged for a living, "The Case of the Twisted Face" I think it's called.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:26:49 AM PDT
Reminds me of the true story of a guy who appeared to be wretched and a double amputee - below the knees. He would roll around on this low wheeled cart begging all day long.
He raked in the dough.
The NY Post took photos of him, at the end of his shift, get up from his amputee cart, and just walk down the street carrying his little wheeled cart!
Reminds me of Eddie Murphy's faux limbless character in "Trading Places". "Is there a problem, officer?"
posted on 05/06/2002 6:32:46 AM PDT
I actually remember an old Archie's Digest that had Archie and Jughead tailing a 'homeless' person, finding he was wealthy, then openly following him around with a camera forcing him to live a homeless life untill he left town to get away from them. No way they would re-print that one today.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:43:56 AM PDT
When I lived in England, I used to see this sort of thing in London. There was this woman who hung out near the hotel I usually stayed at. She was youngish and looked well fed and healthy. She wore dirty, badly worn clothing, and smeared dirt on her face.
During the summer and on weekends she had two small children with her, also with dirt smeared on their faces, but she was alone during school hours. I once offered to buy her and the children lunch at McDonalds, but she refused. Of course, McDonalds in England are pretty bad, much worse than they are in USA.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:47:19 AM PDT
I used to wonder where she found the dirt, in the middle of London. Probably got it from her back garden.
posted on 05/06/2002 6:48:49 AM PDT
I live in northern Virginia. At the Route 1 exit onto 15th Street in Crystal City, four blocks from Pentagon Center Mall, there is always a white-headed man sitting at the stoplight begging. Sometimes there is a woman there with him, looking pitiful as well. One day when I was first in line at the stop light, I glanced over, and he had a DIAMOND EARRING in one ear, and not a little one, either, I would estimate it to be 3/4 of a carat. Of course, I couldn't jump out of my car and look at this guy's diamond with my loup, but if it isn't a real diamond, it's a pretty good CZ -- not the accessories you usually associate with beggars. Obviously, he's unclear on the concept. He is there every weekend, his sign always says he's stranded and I think he's a huge fraud. If he is stranded, he's been stranded there since sometime last summer.
posted on 05/06/2002 7:00:55 AM PDT
I was in London too (in the 80's). I almost got attacked by a begger outside Tooting Broadway station (he thought I was pointing my camera at him). They were a pretty disgusting lot, they would pull out their thing and pee where they were. From what I could tell, most of the beggers there were begging because they blew all their dole money on booze and betting, but I'm sure there were plenty of frauds around too.
I never saw them in the really posh and touristy places, or in the really dumpy places like Brixton and Pecham, just in the inbetween places.
McDonalds tasted the same to me over there, it was the only thing that did taste the same it seemed.
There are plenty of beggers in downtown Ottawa where I am now, and there always seem to me more of them when the weather is nice, hmmmmmmmmmmm.
posted on 05/06/2002 7:02:44 AM PDT
I watched a fake beggar in Cologne, Germany, for about an hour. She looked middle eastern or gypsy, hunched over, ragged and dirty, and had a small child who seemed to be unconscious on the sidewalk. At twelve noon the bells of the cathedral announced noontime, and I watched in amazement as she straightened up, smoothed her hair and her skirt, picked up her handbag, and gracefully walked briskly away from the child. As I watched, I saw a well-dressed young man greet her with a hug, and off they went, seemingly for lunch. Meanwhile, another woman appeared near the child, assumed the hunched-over pose, and began begging. I was told that they actually drug the children to make them look sick and weak. Blech!!
There is a man who begs underneath the 610 loop at Memorial Dr. in Houston. He has a fresh haircut, neat beard, nice duffle bag looks like from Orvis & leather trimmed bedroll. He always has on a fresh laundry ironed shirt. He is holding a sign begging for money, I can't remember what the sign says. When he moves around he appears to have a limp, probably fake. I haven't seen him lately, I guess he took early retirement.
posted on 05/06/2002 7:16:54 AM PDT
There is a crew of beggers in my town that appear to have a deal worked out where they rotate intersections every week. You see one at this part of town one week and the same one at another part of town the next week week. It takes about 3-4 weeks to run the circuit before they repeat the same intersection.
PS, My all time favorite sign was "Homeless, Hungry", written on the back of a Budweiser 12 pack.
Here in Austin they make $600-$800 a day begging by the side of the road at busy intersections.
P.T. Barnum was right!
To: Seeking the truth
Reminds me of the true story of a guy who appeared to be wretched and a double amputee
LOL that is how that Eddie Murphy movie Trading Places started...I wonder if this enterprizing ontra-manure got the idea from that???
posted on 05/06/2002 7:42:28 AM PDT
posted on 05/06/2002 7:45:10 AM PDT
Yup. I quit giving years ago and pointed them to the nearest church.
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