Upland OKs more speaking time for the gabby

Wednesday’s column is about Monday’s council meeting, where after a spirited debate, council members decided to grant members of the public four minutes to speak from now on, up from the current three.

You can’t say the Upland City Council never gave you anything.

My first draft of the column was slightly longer, but I decided that chopping the last four paragraphs would result in a stronger ending. As an online bonus, here’s the last bit:

On my way home, as part of my continuing effort to prop up Upland’s economy, I spent $36.55 on gas. (I also tried to buy groceries but the store had closed, and might have bought a hot dog but the adjacent restaurant was closing. It’s not easy conducting business in Upland at the late hour of 8:20 p.m.)

As I was pumping gas, a hapless man was hitting up customers for “50 cents or a dollar” for gas. The driver in front of me claimed he had no cash, just cards. He was driving a Lexus SUV.

Despite my refusal to make eye contact in hopes he would pass me by, the man asked me for money. I stopped cleaning the windshield of my battered Corolla and gave him a dollar.

Make that $37.55 to prop up Upland’s economy.

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  • Ramona

    Another Corolla owner here. I tend to coast when going downhill to get 22 mpg. Still, gas is a budget-buster these days.

    I’ve found if I wear a radical Dr. Strange Records t-shirt when I’m out and about, panhandlers tend to leave me alone. Worth a try?

    • davidallen909

      Ha ha! In this case I was leaning over my hood washing my windshield, so it might not have helped. But that’s an interesting idea — and a funny reason to support a local business!

  • SAWZ

    I was on the Blue Line with my spouse when a man who looked hungry stepped in our car asking for any amount of change people could spare. We gave him some change as he passed by our seats. Then, after we passed another stop down the line a man came on and said he didn’t want to scare anyone, but if we could spare some change he would appreciate. Since we had already donated to the first guy, I considered it my good deed for the day and left it at that. This guy did not look that impoverished. Then, further on down the line, a man stepped on with what looked like all of his worldly goods, neatly bundled inside several large drawstring bags, anchored on a dolly–it must have weighed a hundred pounds. This man was clean and looked well-fed. He did not ask for anything.

    It is illegal to pander on the rail lines and the Sheriffs board cars randomly. I figure if someone is going to take the chance of stepping on the train and ask for change, they are probably hungry. I don’t think anyone should go hungry in a country of abundance, such as ours. In fact, I think people should get out of their cocoons, count their own bessings, and give a little help. The man you gave your dollar to might have been very hungry, or he might have used it to buy whiskey. Either way, David, you did the right thing.

    • davidallen909

      Sometimes I give a dollar, sometimes I walk past, it depends. I’m inconsistent. Generally I agree, others could use the money more than I do. But then, I need the money more than a lot of other people (like the Lexus owner)! A few times the askers seem perfectly able to work (hipster-looking guys in their 20s) and appear to be panhandling almost ironically.

    • DebB

      Your sentence about the Sheriffs boarding the cars, presumably tossing off the panderers on occasion, reminded me of the old stories of the guards who used to ride the trains, throwing out the hobos trying to hitch a ride. According to legend, they could be pretty brutal. There was a name for them, but I can’t remember it.

      I agree that we should try to help others whenever we can. But for awhile it seemed there was a group of panderers headquartered at a particular gas station in Pomona. They all seemed to have the same story – “My mom/sister/cousin/husband is in (some city) and is sick. I just need a few dollars for bus fare.” Twice someone – the same someone! – came to my house with the same story. After hearing that a few times, you no longer feel the need to help.

      • SAWZ

        I understand. Sometimes you have to use your own intuition. The cost to one individual getting caught boarding the train without a ticket will just multiply on itself along with the pandering problem, and I figure they must be pretty hungry to do that. I have been a little haunted by a couple past experiences. A woman in Long Beach, years ago, asked for money and I walked on by while she was professing how hungry she was–I think about her now, and wonder why I didn’t spare something for her. Another time, a vagrant walked by a woman and me crossing an intersection in LA with our Coo Coo Roo meals and he said, “Smells so good–I supposed there won’t be any leftovers”. The woman crossing next to me handed the man her meal–she was my hero that night and I was ashamed.