He was a tall man, about 40 years old, easy talker and always wore shabby clothes and dark sunglasses. Everyday he stood on the corner of my block with his metal cup in one hand and red-tipped cane in the other, panhandling everyone who walked by.
I knocked on his door and yelled “paperboy.” He yelled back and told me to leave the paper on the chair and take the money he had left on the table by the window. I picked up the change and then my youthful larceny got the best of me. I thought this would be easy money. I told him he gave me pennies instead of dimes. That was a big mistake.
He commanded me to bring the money over to him. He felt the change and informed me there was no mistake. My alter-boy hallow was starting to turn black and was pounding out of my head. Not as bad as the pounding on my head I would get from my father if he found out what I had done. He reminded me that dimes have ridges on their edge and pennies are smooth. He then proceeded to give me the lecture and preached about honesty, integrity, deception and taking advantage of the less fortunate.
One Saturday night I had the rare chance to sell newspapers in front of the Empire Burlesque Theater in Newark, New Jersey. There were three of us hawking the paper. We would all shout something like: “Extra, Extra, read all about it; high ranking Republican’s mother is raped, but not forcibly. His father says “thank God.” Something like that could sell a lot of newspapers.
The last act at the show was a dance performed by all the girls in the chorus line who were available for after hours activity. Each lady of the night had a number on their bottom to identify themselves. After the show, a prospective customer would give the paper boy a negotiated amount of money in return for a slip of paper with the girls number inside a newspaper. The customer would wait at the stage-door while the hooker picked up the money from the boy, tipped him and confirmed the transaction. No money actually exchanged hands between the girl and the valued customer.
I recognized one of the customers buying a paper. It was the blind man living down the street from me. He could see and probably did read the paper I delivered. He was half drunk, well dressed, didn’t have his cane or sunglasses and acted like a regular big spender at the theater.
When the other panhandlers found out about his deception, they chased him out of the neighborhood. He misled and deceived everyone who tried to help him. He lied to his friends for his own personal gain; hypocritical when he gave me his sermon on honesty and integrity and betrayed the trust of his neighbors. He was a con-artist and should have been a politician.
Honesty, integrity and trust should be a requirement and mandate to compete for public office. Instead, money, power and political lies have blinded the candidates eyes of perspicuity. Voters are influenced, misled and swayed by partisan surrogates, hired operatives and wealthy corporations who either lie by omission, exaggerate the truth or embellish the facts.
Maybe, politicians should follow the example of the burlesque queens and prostitutes. Candidates could place a number on their bottom, promise to take advantage of the less fortunate, eliminate the middle-class and health care, reduce women to second-class citizens, sell their services to the highest corporate bidder through a surrogate, and deceive the voters with their everyday appearance of deception. Never mind, that wouldn’t work. Even a blind man could see through that.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.