update to “Untied Way”

It occurred to me that there might be some confusion as to who I was calling parasites in the last entry; then, after some conversation with the spousal unit, it emerged that I am somewhat confused myself. By “parasites” and “thieving bastards”, I meant those panhandlers who are not motivated by genuine need, who have other options but find it easier or more profitable to prey on the goodwill intended for the genuinely down-on-their-luck among whom they hide. (As it happens, the unpleasant lifestyle of the False Cleaner Wrasse might offer a better model than parasitism.) But who are these human Mimic Blennies? Do drug addicts count, or the mentally ill? I was not thinking of them, as they seem to me to be cases of genuine need. In any case, I am not trying to judge who deserves my help, but rather to figure out who most needs it and how best to give it. Among the people asking for money on the streets, who has pretty much nowhere else to turn and who is just lying to me for fun and profit? I have caught a few liars out just by remembering what they told me last time, and have learned to spot hard-luck stories that are carefully designed and rehearsed — but in all but one of those cases, even I could spot telltale signs of serious drug addiction. It’s often apparent that the person telling me that they “just need a dollar for the bus” is lying, but it’s not clear what they really need or want and it is quite often clear that they are not playing with a full deck.
So it’s not clear who the “parasites” really are, since I don’t actually know who any of the people are who keep turning up on the street and asking me for money. I don’t even know what questions to ask to begin to clarify this issue. Spouse and I have decided to try to cure our ignorance with some volunteer work.

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