The Triple Threat
by Royal Hopper
I was driving to work one fine southern Nevada day when something potentially tragic caught my eye. An older white haired man in a wheelchair with a puppy in his lap sat in the median in the middle of a well traveled intersection in suburban Sin City by way appearing unable to move.
My jaded 50 something mind temporarily suspended the innate cynicism bred by 17 years off and on in this city and panicked enough to turn off the radio in case I had to fish my cell phone out of my pocket and call for help.
“Somebody help him,” was my first thought maybe he passed out or is sick and cant make it across the median. “Oh good,” was the second thought as a pedestrian walked up behind him stopping right beside him.
“What the…” was my third thought as the wheelchair bound man turned his head up toward the pedestrian and posed a question. The other man patted his pocket as if the say he was broke too and when the pedestrian cross walk sign changed he walked on while the white haired wheelchair bound man with the puppy in his lap stayed put and slowly raised a sign to his chest and pointed it.
As the light changed and I was forced to continue my journey to my mortgage payment, I mean work. The fourth thought that entered my head was …”oh that is what a triple threat looks like.”
It terms of Sin City sign holders a triple threat is someone who exhibits all the Sympathy Signs….all those things designed things to illicit sympathy from potential donors.
A good sign is the most basic sympathy sign. From the serious type ” Hungry anything helps, to the humorous version like “ninjas kidnapped my family and I need money for karate lessons to get them back” the hand held sign is the first.
Second in this case is the prop. Puppies are great props. Anybody who doesn’t like dogs is a mutant and certainly on my “to avoid list”. Because people consider dogs to be sympathetic, cute and incapable of making choices they are perfect props for sign holders trying to get donations.
Even if you don’t like the sign holders you have to love dogs… (Of course you could do what my Dad who was in his late 70’s at the time and but two hot dogs and give to the dog and eat the other in front of the sign holder)
The third is the person themselves…. Old people with white hair are vulnerable, women are generally more appealing victims than men and white haired old men in a wheelchair with a puppy in their lap holding a clever well written sign is what is called triple threat.
Kids dont generally work as a prop because people tend to call child services when they see a child standing with their parent in the middle of the road.
Panhandling is a Vegas tradition almost as old as burying people in the desert and tipping the cocktail waitress who brings you your drinks, spending your kids college fund and getting rolled by girl named Bambi….seriously.
The entire purpose of the City is to entertain you and get you to fork over your money for things you dont need and that seldom benefit you except that you feel tough for having played in Vegas.
Maybe you feel that way when you give to the triple threat sign holders and all their panhandling kin. Maybe you give to the signholders often maybe you never give to them. Thats something you will have to debate in your own conscious.
It is important to understand that whatever you decide… ..whether you give in and give to the people who are asking. Nothing will really change. The next day there will still be people holding signs asking for money. There will still be people spiking drinks and picking pockets. there will still be slot machines and craps tables and girls named Bambi. It is the way of things and it aint going to change soon.
It is life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners