Skip to comments.Shady secret of the Shaky Lady (Beggar rakes in the cash, then heads home in a Lumina)
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.
Sadly churches now have to be careful as well. My church has decided that we will no longer give money. Food and clothing, yes, and we will arrange a place for you to stay but you will not walk out with cash. We got burned too often.
My church didn't hand out cash even to parishioners. If there were specific needs such as rent, car payments, etc. they wrote a check made out to the appropriate payee.
My brother-in-law stopped at one of them with the WILL WORK FOR FOOD signs and offered a meal and a days wages for some post hole digging and the bum said no thanks.
I have to plead guilty to that one as well ... I guess we're just a couple of old softies after all.
One of the ways you can tell about these people is to give them food instead of cash. I used to carry around canned goods, such as fruit and chili, and give it to beggars at intersections. The ones who are out for dough will not take canned food, nor will they let you feed them, because they want your money. Someone who is really a hobo won't turn down a meal. The fakers don't want your charity, they want hard currency.
This is my test, anyhow. Don't know how reliable it is, but it seems ok.
I asked the guy on the side of the road, "hey you need a can opener?"
"No," he replied. "I have a .45!"
Big Government on the other hand will take 50% of your income at gunpoint, "for the Children", and pay for lifestyle that would make Donald Trump blush.
Is this really the women trying to scam some money for her bid as governor of Florida.
And we wonder why they vote for the Dems...
The lady I mentioned was near the center of tourism, on Oxford Street at Marble Arch.
McDonalds in Britain must have really gone downhill by the time I got there in 1991. I tried the McD's at Marble Arch, The Tower of London and in Norwich. Burger King on Tottenham Court Rd just off Oxford St. (near the British Museum) was even worse, terribly greasy. The only decent burgers I found in the whole country was at the Burger King on RAF Lakenheath. Thats a U.S. air base east of Cambridge.
Some of these people make far too much money in this country. In other countries people starve.
I went to several different McD's and they all seemed the same to me. There is a Burger King south of Mitcham however that had the first drive thru window in the UK. Because it was the first, they used the US plans so you have pull up and then reach over and roll down the window on the passenger side to deal with them!
Downtown Savannah,they have a group of young vagrants[filthy clothes,barefeet,dreadlocks,face piercings like you wouldn't believe] that come in the store,buy beer and junkfood and pay for it with atm cards.What they do is go to small towns by bus and hit old people up for money.They rake in so much money,they have bank accounts.
The best con job I heard about was true. A well dressed man came to town and went to all the ministers. He told each one, "I heard you are the best preacher in town. I want to join your church." Then he said, "Before my funds transfer to the local bank, could you give me a little to buy some things?" He got $20-100 from each minister, then left town. When they compared notes they realized how he had played upon their vanity. That's pan-handling with style.
I used to help a few people. Then our house was marked by their beggar's union. I heard the same story over and over. "I was driving to Florida to visit my dying mother and I ran out of cash. I have to see her. Could you spare a few dollar?"
are you serious about mcdonalds?! the mcdonalds on grafton street in dublin, which i presume is not much farther ahead than london, has oak panelling and sells cafe latte
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