Ask Tia Juana

     Tia Juana will cheerfully provide advice for anyone that asks.  Just mail your questions to “Ask Tia Juana” at PO Box 8, Van Horn, Texas 79855.  All questions will remain anonymous unless there is a chance for extortion.  Disclaimer:  Tia Juana is not a licensed counselor or therapist and none of the advice should be considered professional.

Dear Tia,

This morning I pulled up to the gas pump and witnessed a young man panhandling for gas to get him to the next town.  I could sense the awkwardness in a couple of the people he approached.  His vehicle was pulled-up to a pump and even asked one man to allow him to pull in behind him to use the gasoline he already had flowing. 

This is a recurring theme I’ve witnessed on this stretch of interstate and my feeling is that people are taking advantage and that just doesn’t sit right with me.  When someone tells you they are from 1,000 miles away and they’re going another 1,000 miles, it’s hard for me not to think that they didn’t have any business making a trip they weren’t prepared for in the first place.  Is this too harsh and I guess what I’m asking is, should I make my feelings known or just say no and have a nice day and good luck?


Feeling Guilty

Dear Feeling Guilty,

I think that we have all experienced being “hit on” by panhandlers that all have a sad story.  Their signs are all meant to pull at our heartstrings—“Homeless, hungry, veteran” etc.  However, after several panhandlers were picked up in El Paso, it turned out that none of them were homeless, hungry or veterans, but were actually con artists who made a good living from preying on the guilt of good-hearted people.  As such, panhandling is illegal in many cities.

It is hard for most of us to imagine taking off on a long trip knowing that we don’t have the means to get there.  It’s not like these people that beg at service stations don’t realize that it will take more than one tank of gas to get to their destination, so I for one, am quite skeptical about their predicament. 

On the other hand, many of these panhandlers know exactly what they are doing and prey on the generosity of others, knowing that most people want to be helpful.  However, be aware that such scams do exist, and while some people do have legitimate hard luck stories, many just find it easier to beg than work, and have worked the system for years.  Let your conscience be your guide, and if you decide to help someone who says they are in need, you are doing it for the right reasons, and the scammers, if they are scamming, will have to live with their consciences, if they have one.


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