How Does A Homeless Man Spend $100?

I saw this and immediately thought it was staged and became pissed off. What really sucks, is that I don't want it to be fake.

Here's the thing, even if it isn't faked/staged (which given the "pranking" {i.e. staging/faking} history of the person who created it, is the highest probable explanation)... this could simply be "random chance".

Because the video creator did not REPEAT the experiment with other homeless people -- and instead encountered a SINGLE DATA POINT in a larger aggregate (and moreover one that is "perfectly timed" to the specific season of the year: a season which not only predisposes people to WANT such things to be true {and thus makes them incredibly vulnerable to being "scammed"} -- but which MIGHT even influence the actions of the homeless man in question {to wit: had this been done in JANUARY instead of a few days before Christmas, that very same homeless guy MAY have acted in a different manner}).

The "stereotype" that homeless/beggars will squander money on booze, drugs, etc -- is (alas, more's the pity) fully supported by the data (and is moreover well known to people who work VERY HARD to help such individuals) : it is NOT that all such homeless/beggars will do so, simply that the vast majority will (now exactly what that ratio is, whether it is 99:1, or 80:20, or even 67:33 is debatable).


So let me give you a counter-example (REAL LIFE) story from my own recent life experience:

A relatively young (i.e. about 24 years old) son of a friend of mine -- one who has a history of being arrested on various charges (disorderly conduct, drug charges, etc), and has pretty much made a LOT of stupid mistakes. Anyway to shorten this story, he had basically "burned through" and exhausted his parents' trust; and due to major problems with their other children (including a daughter having MAJOR health issues), they were both unwilling AND unable to help him again.

This despite the fact that he had had a "near death" health problem -- an intestinal blockage & surgery -- the aftermath of which was that this 6' 3" young man, who normally weighted in at around 180 lbs (and was still skinny/lean at that weight), was down to an almost "skeletal" 120 lbs -- and he needed a place to stay and someone to help him get back on his feet when the hospital discharged him.

In addition -- and this is NOT contrived -- this young man had fathered TWO children with his girlfriend... and had (prior to being hospitalized) been actively attempting to turn his life around: to quit the drugs, to gain solid employment, begin to be a responsible father (and possibly husband as his "baby momma" still wanted him, brought the kids to see him in the hospital, etc).

Now, cynical as I am (from past personal experience, this is NOT the first guy I have tried to help; I've helped many, some succeed, most do not) -- I am the kind of person who realizes that people CAN (and do) alter their lives, move beyond and learn from past mistakes; and that giving them a hand and assistance at a critical juncture CAN (but not necessarily WILL) help them succeed and "speed it up", enhance & improve the outcome (not only for themselves, but everyone else as well).

So... while maintaining my (silent) cynicism and aware of the probability (probably around 90% chance) that this kid was both "sincere" but yet likely to fail; and that there was perhaps a 10% chance he really would (this time) turn his life around, I agreed to help him out, and to do so in specific ways:

  1. I would take him into my home directly from the hospital (including physically picking him up at the time of his discharge, as well as fetching his personal things, clothing, etc).

  2. I would clean out and make him a "home" in my spare bedroom (with bed, dresser, closet area, etc).

  3. I would help feed & nurse him back to health and ability to be mobile, work, etc.

  4. Once he healed and had the doctor's OK, I would help him to obtain employment in the area (even helping get him to/from work).

  5. Provided he saved up sufficient cash, I would help him obtain (and if necessary "fix up") a decent/solid used vehicle, one that would not only be "debt free" but also be SAFE & reliable "family" transport sufficient to last him at least a couple of years w/o major repairs -- and thus enable him to obtain better work, as well as visit his family, become an independent/mobile responsible adult, etc.

  6. Once those had been achieved, I would continue to allow him to live here with me -- charging him only a minimal amount of rent ($150 a month -- chiefly to offset increased utilities {hot showers everyday burn gas}, etc -- and with the full intent being MAINLY to get him USED to paying budgeted things {i.e. that housing isn't "free"}, while allowing him to SAVE most of his pay toward "re-forming" his own family.)

I did all of those things. Got him fed (from broth, to vege stews, to stew with meat, etc) and within a week back up to ~150+ lbs, and feeling "like a million bucks" (according to the kid himself); then for the following weekend, paid him for some assistance with "light" work around the house/yard (he was anxious to begin doing something, but did not yet have doc's OK for actual work)... a few days later got him to the doc and OK'd for work (and up over 160 lbs), and then managed to obtain him a couple of interviews and ultimately a job on some light construction... a temp job which he worked for 2 weeks, earning enough to almost pay for the vehicle (but which needed a couple of hundred in parts, including a new gas tank, new muffler, etc -- so I loaned the money to get that, and basically did the repair work myself {with him "assisting" but having little experience, well...}.)

And... you would think he would be grateful and all set to go, right?

Well, within LESS than a week of obtaining the car (which once licensed and handed the keys he drove off with and never returned), he had managed to not only get himself back into trouble, back into drinking/drugs, but even damaged the car extensively AND got it impounded by the police, along with obtaining a series of new charges. (Oh, and he never used the car to EITHER visit his kids NOR to obtain work). In other words he threw it all away.

Now (in jail for over a month) he is of course once again whining that "he needs a second [sic] chance" -- even though he's had a second, third, fourth, fifth... Nth amount of "chances".

So in closing, I would note a couple of important things.

  1. There ARE people (like myself) who DO A LOT to attempt to help people in such circumstances.

  2. We know that -- unlike what is posited by this "soundbite" (almost certainly staged because it is just too "perfect" in terms of it's concise packaging and timing of presentation) video -- such charity is NOT some little "magical" gift that turns out 100% of the time (nor even 10% of the time) as some fairy-tale success.

  3. AND THIS IS CRITICAL: We do not exploit such situations -- we do not make videos about them in order to profit from them on some youtube channel (look at what the douchebag video "prankster" stands to make from this, NOT even including some scam/fundraiser) -- and moreover we do not create online "instant fundraisers" pretending to be God's gift to the homeless.

Keep in mind especially that last point. The story I told above, I could easily have "spun" online in any number of ways... (Oh, and BTW, here's a link to a gallery of pics from the car-refurb -- note that I have pixelated the guys face, etc -- because even though he's got massive problems, he DESERVES his anonymity/privacy). Now I have a whole bunch more pics -- including ones of this guy looking "skeletal" -- I could EASILY have done some online blog (or if I were so inclined, some carefully crafted "video sob story" -- all of which would have been TRUE), and even set up some "help this guy out" fund...

But I didn't do ANY of that.

One reason is that (unlike the video guy in question -- who whatever his other motives may be -- undoubtedly has a CHIEF motive of creating {and personally profiting from} any/all "viral" videos) -- I have ZERO desire (or need) to "exploit" people (neither people with problems in life, NOR the gullible people who will subscribe/donate, etc).

In my opinion, that crap is just sickening to see -- because no matter the kinds of "warm fuzzies" that this video may have created (especially around the holidays) -- the ultimate motivation for it is far from pure.

/r/videos Thread Link - youtube.com