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VERY specific

My fellow city dwellers may have run into the very specific panhandling request: asking for eighty cents, say, or a buck-twenty. People asking for money in the streets became more likely to do this not too long ago, within the last several years or more recent, and the request being specific makes it seem like there's a definite goal for what to do with the money. (It's been maybe 20 years since the heyday of the scrawled-on-cardboard message Hey, why lie? I need a beer! Things change.)

This can be even more specific.

I was walking downtown -- I'd gotten off one bus to get Portland's weekly free papers (the Willamette Week and the Mercury) -- and was headed along the SW 5th Avenue Transit Mall to another bus. So was this guy. He was wearing overalls with no shirt. He looked like he'd been through general rough stuff. And he was asking, pretty loudly,

"CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? HELP ME GET A STARBUCKS STRAWBERRY AND CREME FRAPPACCINO? OK. I GUESS I'M GONNA DIE. DIE FROM NOT HAVING A STARBUCKS STRAWBERRY AND CREME FRAPPACCINO."

I walked a little faster so as not to engage with him. And I wondered evilly, That could be viral marketing gone really wrong.

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Chris Walsh

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