On the Mark — By Craig Marks
I usually don’t stop to engage panhandlers in conversation, but on this day in 2009, I had to ask the man about the sign he was holding.
“Have only $10K left to last me 25 days,” read the sign.
“Excuse me,” I said to the panhandler. “Am I reading that correctly? You say you only have $10,000 to get you through the next 25 days?”
“You never think it will happen to you,” said the panhandler. “One minute things are going swimmingly, and the next you’re needing help paying the $175,000 initiation fee to your country club.”
The panhandler explained that he and his partner, a yacht aficionado, had purchased an investment company in 2002. Keeping it afloat — the company, not the yachts — had become a big problem, a problem they kept hidden from their investors. They blamed their financial situation on the economy, though arguments could be made it was due to bad loans to “related parties.” Also playing a role with the “related parties” were the “real late parties,” lavish Vegas affairs and pricey soirées with Playboy bunnies.
I asked how the panhandling was going.
“Surprisingly not well,” he said, glumly. “I thought my sign would generate sympathy, but I’d say the reaction has been closer to ‘seething rage.’ ‘Tar and feathers’ is only a figure of speech, right?”
The panhandler then tried other signs, none of them effective:
“Please help. Partner refuses to up my salary to $1 mil.”
“Had to sell Corvette.”
“Our Akron employees, who we derisively refer to as ‘Larry, Curly & Moe,’ are not skilled enough in the art of deception to convince investors to leave their hard-earned money with us.”
(The last sign was written in really small type.)
“I’m not sure any sign will do the job,” I said. “Our sympathies lie with the good people who trusted you and your cohorts with their retirement savings. Anyone who makes an investment knows there’s a risk involved, but they assume the investors are looking out for their interests. No one’s going to believe your partner hired the Playboy bunnies to analyze investment portfolios.
“The people who have their money tied up with your company have a right to their anger,” I added. “We can only hope that maybe, say, three years down the road in 2012, there will be a trial that will bring them some kind of closure and a chance to recover what they’ve earned.”
The panhandler was not paying attention. He had come up with another sign idea and was beginning to write it down.
“In the sentence ‘Desperately need funds for mansion upkeep,’ is the word ‘upkeep’ hyphenated?” he asked.
Calendar of Events
- Spring Nature Hikes - 5/22/2013
- Summit Children’s Choir - 5/22/2013
- “Calamity Jane” - 5/23/2013
- Book Sale and Bizarre Bazaar - 5/25/2013
- Art Sale - 5/25/2013