The World Is Full of Cheapskates









I normally talk about graphic design topics or WordPress-related topics, but today I am going to talk about an encounter I had today in the supermarket parking lot. I had to buy a lot of food because I had not gone shopping for a week. I was loading my groceries into the car when a woman drove by and tried to get my attention. There was a teenage girl with her. She tells me a story that she has five children and can’t afford to buy them food, so could I go back into the store and buy some food for them? She would pay me back.

This woman was driving in a big SUV truck that looked newer and better than my beat-up 20+ year old car. She even had a pretty new looking cell phone that she pointed to as she offered to give me her phone number. (I was supposed to call her so I could get paid back.) I told her I couldn’t help her, but she would not give up right away. She kept asking something like, “You really can’t help us?” I just kept saying, “I’m sorry.” She finally drove away.

I realize that times are hard for a lot of people these days, but why do people feel free to dump their problems on everyone else? This woman is a complete stranger to me, yet I am supposed to go out of my way and go shopping for her and give her food for free (yeah right, she will pay me back). Why do some people expect that other people or even complete strangers should bail them out of their problems? What happened to personal responsibility and self-reliance?

I know I might seem uncharitable, but there is another story I have to tell you about why I don’t help strangers. There used to be this panhandler that I regularly saw on a main intersection close to where I live. He was probably in his thirties and had crutches and a knee brace. Day after day, he would limp by the roadside looking frail and pathetic in hopes of getting a handout. One day when I was throwing out the trash, I see this same panhandler walk by my house on the other side of the street. He had the knee brace on, but he was walking along with strong, confident strides and no limp. As he walked, he happily swung his crutches in the air. He was probably thinking about how much money he was going to make deceiving people that day.

Even in my attempts to find work, I have encountered many a cheapskate. One time I applied for a job to design a book cover for a writer. His ad said he would pay $100. I offered to do the work for $75 if he gave me a copy of his e-book. He sent me the e-book and a sketch of what he wanted on the cover, but then he tells me he won’t pay for my work unless he likes it. He also tells me that there are so many other talented artists working on this project. When I told him I would not do the work without a signed contract, he came up with excuses for not working with me on a contract basis. He looked at my online portfolio thoroughly and had no problem sending the work to me  when he thought I would do it for free, but suddenly I did not have enough freehand work in my portfolio to make him confident I could do the job. However, if I wanted to prove I was a professional, I just had to send him a quick sketch and he might reconsider . . .

Right now I am working as a freelance copyeditor for an e-book publisher. I have broken my own rule of not working without a contract. All I have is an email agreement. I am receiving a lot of work from them. I would be happy to do more work because more work means receiving more money. However, I have no guarantee that I will be paid after I send the invoice. Last night, I did some research online and found a few anonymous reviews from people who claimed that they did work for this company but were not paid or not paid in full. Now I feel like a fool being suckered by another cheapskate.


2 thoughts on “The World Is Full of Cheapskates

  1. There is a local beggar whose base is a median in one of the busiest streets in Houston. He is painfully thin. His arms are thinner and so short they remind me of T-Rex. He walks with a pronounced limp, and he needs serious orthodontic work. I have never given him money although guilt often poked me the first few months.

    Last year while doing some Christmas shopping in Macy’s I saw him. I did a double take, but it was the little short-armed bigger, and he was dressed better than my nephew, who works a full time job. The little dude had a scarf wrapped round his neck. He wore designer shoes, designer jeans and a stylish wool cap. He was shopping at the pricey watch counter.

    Then there’s are the groups that wear the neon vests construction crews wear. Always the same people; always the same people asking drivers to “Please helped young people.” someone needs to helped them Lear to spell. Oh! I cannot leave out the Armenians who beg with infants and toddlers, and claim they came to America because the name sounds so much like Armenia. Plus they heard how America is the land of dreams.

    There might be people begging because their needs are genuine, but how can you tell who needs a hand up? Professional beggars should try for paying jobs with charities. I never give money just because some asks. My aunt offered to buy one man a sandwich and juice after he asked for money on her way out of the food store. He swore at her and walked away.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your stories with me. I have heard other people tell stories similar to your aunt’s story about panhandlers rejecting offers of food from other people. I guess they just want easy money. It makes me sad to think that there are people out there who have no problem taking advantage of other people’s kindness.

      I do want to clarify that I am not entirely against helping strangers. For example, I will help elderly or disabled people I do not know get something off the shelf at the grocery store if they ask for or seem to need help. If someone I don’t know accidentally drops something near me, I will give it back to him or her if I can. However, like you, I do not give money to strangers who want a free handout, and I do not buy things for them just because they ask.

      I am sorry I was not able to respond to your comments right away. I appreciate your thoughtful, detailed response to my post.


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