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Husslin' Homeless...

Hi i'm God

TRIBE Member
I know you people love your homeless folk but this is pretty sad... This is part of the reason why I realy ever contribute actual cash. I donate food and old clothes but panhandelers Never get money from me.

Her? Poor? That's rich
Torontonians give from the heart to panhandler

By MIKE STROBEL, Toronto Sun

Down the alley we scurry. The Shaky Lady is moving like a cat now, her little pull-cart bouncing behind.

She glances back, spots me as I deke behind a garbage bin in the gloom.

For a second our eyes lock. Hers are clear and wary.

Her two bodyguards. Where are they?

She darts round a corner. I hear a car door slam.

Now I'm running, panting. Gawd, I think, I can't keep up with a bag lady. She's at least 65.

I lurch around the corner.

Into the glare of headlights ...

Hours earlier, Yonge and Bloor:

Man, the Shaky Lady is a pitiful sight.

She sits on the northwest corner. Her head and hands shake grotesquely, constantly.

She wears a shabby red jacket. Her hair is grey and scraggly under a faded purple kerchief.

A garbage bag covers her legs. People throw money on it.

Lots of people. Sometimes they line up.

"She got here about 11," says Const. Paul Stone, 50, on traffic duty at a construction site. "She started shaking as soon as she sat down. She's just rakin' it in now."

In our spy nest at Harvey's across the street, photographer Alex Urosevic and I do some figuring.

Thirty people in 15 minutes, Alex counts. Fifty in the time it takes me to eat a veggie burger and sip a coffee.

So, be very conservative and say 50 kind strangers an hour, a toonie each, five hours a day, five days a week.

That's $2,500 a week. Net. I mean, what's the overhead? How much do blue thermal pants and a garbage bag cost?


Above the Shaky Lady's roost rises a CIBC tower. How many of those bankers take home that kind of dough?

I wander over to get a closer look. Several people in the area have told me she usually has two burly men keeping watch over her. Some think they're her sons.

If they're around, I can't spot them in the throngs.

"Please help me. I'm sick and poor. I will pray for you," says the cardboard sign around her neck.

I toss in a toonie. She gives me a toothless grin and croaks. The shaking is remarkable. How could you say no?

Shopkeepers and security staff say she has haunted Bloor between Yonge and Bay for at least a year.

"I was struck by her wretched appearance," says Agnes McKenna, 74, who lives nearby. "I wondered, how could anybody be so heartless as to dump her on the street?

"A couple of weeks ago, coming home from a meeting, I see this woman suddenly get up, spry as a chicken. Her face becomes alive, she packs up her buggy and off she goes.

"Makes you feel like a fool, to be taken like that."

Toronto Police Const. Andrew Hassall once saw a woman so torn up about the Shaky Lady she bought her a $200 coat at The Bay. The beggar croaked her thanks, waited for the woman to leave, then threw out the coat. Hassall couldn't persuade the kind woman she'd been had.

The Shaky Lady is "the prima donna of this sort of thing," says Hassall. "She's been a thorn in our sides for years."

But the cops are stuck. Panhandling is legal.

Down Bloor, I catch up to two of her benefactors. Judy Gerich, 53, an Edmonton teacher and sister Debbie Galloway, 46, a daycare operator, gave the Shaky Lady $30.

Then they brought her coffee and chicken fingers.

"I couldn't believe how she looked," says Debbie. "It rips your heart out."

For a while, I hide by the construction site behind the Shaky Lady. They are laying fibre-optic cable.


I can see each person approach the woman.

I see horror, pity. I see $10 bills, a few 20s. She tucks them under the bag. I think our income estimate is low.

At 4:30 p.m. she gets up, chucks the sisters' chicken fingers in the garbage and heads west on Bloor. There is no shaking. She moves faster and faster.

Into the alley ...

... I round the corner. A car, a Chevy Lumina, speeds in reverse.

A man drives, another sits in the back. The Shaky Lady, kerchief off, crouches in the passenger seat.

Caught without cover, I give chase. I can't read the plate. Alex is an alley away, trying to cut them off.

But the Lumina pulls out on Balmuto St., by the Uptown Theatre, then west on Bloor.

By the time I hail a cab and yell "follow that Lumina," it's gone. Who knows where?

But I'm guessing it's not to a shelter for the homeless.
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room

Evil Dynovac

TRIBE Member
Sweet! I love it! Shakey Lady is serving our need to feel charitable towards street scum and making a killing doing it. Fantastic! I would give Shakey Lady my change over a crackhead anyday. At least my money is being used to make payments on a fine, American made automobile.

Chevy... Like a Rock!


TRIBE Member
i was going to start a thread about this...

well, i saw the cover of the sun, and i've lived or worked in the bay-bloor area for 5 years now, so i know exactly who the story is about. i caught on to her game, i dunno, almost a year ago and stopped giving her money. i know the article says she's only been around for a year but i'd say longer.

i've seen her at busy corners all over the downtown core, just raking it in. she does look pitiful, but she can turn it off and on. and yes, i have personally seen her jump up and walk quickly away without any sign of the terrible, crippling palsy she displays when she sits. and she always sits in the middle of the sidewalk so nobody can walk past without seeing her.

i dunno, begging, genuine mendicantion, is an ancient tradition, i'd still rather give her a buck then the guy who screams at me and won't let me past.


TRIBE Member
is "deke" part of the vocabulary of any other country in the world other than canadians?


TRIBE Member
Originally posted by deep
is "deke" part of the vocabulary of any other country in the world other than canadians?

i dunno, it's not listed in mirriam webster online...
but my windows spell checker accpets it.
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feisty boy

TRIBE Member
i'm curious how this will play out...
will people give her a hassle now when they see her? will she just disapear for a couple of months then come back? what does someone like this do when they're 'exposed', and more importantly, what does the public do?

i'm sure the sun, that pinnacle of objective and informative journalism, will keep us updated.

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
In poor countries women rent there children out to panhandlers in the tourist areas. The kids wear ratty thin clothing and nail tourists for huge coin.

Kind of shitty in that the people who generally need the most help are the ones who don't get it. Things like this just give people the wrong impression about how hard it can be on some of them.


TRIBE Member
in tijuana they get their kids to sell Chiclets on the streets. there's only so many packets of chiclets one can buy.


Hawk Eye

TRIBE Member
I saw it on the news today on breakfast television.
they called her "the richest bag lady" and then she got in a cevy and drove away. This is why I never give out cash. Liz (kathryn) told me a story about how a reporter from the globe in mail dressed up as a homeless person and went out on the street for a day and pan handled. I can't remember the exact amount of cash but it was more then 20 bucks an hour. crazy..



Can someone go to the corner today and give the lady a copy on the sun instead of $0.50 and take a picture of her reaction?
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TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Ditto Much

Kind of shitty in that the people who generally need the most help are the ones who don't get it. Things like this just give people the wrong impression about how hard it can be on some of them.

Good point.

It's totally useful to keep in mind the fact that this kinda crap is the exception over here rather then the rule.

It doesn't shock me at all that the sun chooses to focus on this kind of crap.

"She's making 2500$ A WEEK! OH MY GOD!!!"

I could care less what some panhandler is making per week.

I would sugest that anyone who is outraged by this lady's earnings and her little scam is probably really unhappy with their own life.

Why would anyone care so much about what some random old lady does that they feel obligated to stalk her and publish an article about it?

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
i've seen the lady too. i don't care how much she shakes, there's no way in hell she pulls in $100 per hour on a consistant basis (5 hours per day, 5 days per week). that is ridiculous.

there are THOUSANDS of homeless people in the city compared to what i'm betting is a very very VERY small handful of fakers. don't let stories like this stop you from helping people in need.


TRIBE Member

I still give money to the homeless when I pass them by.

I think it has to do with living in the city, you get desensitized to it.

I hate coins anyways.

There's one dude, I remember, on Yonge street, who had no legs, which is pretty hard to fake. I gave him lots. Mostly because if I were paralyzed I'd probably put a bullet in my head.

Thus ends my story.
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TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Cheeka
that's terrible!
but she'll get hers no doubt.
she'll con the wrong person one day

I have this mental image of her trying to con a pirate with a peg leg and then him running her through with his sword and stealing her treasure and then chunk dancing for no reason



TRIBE Member
on the other hand...

there are plenty of more 'deserving' homeless out there. just a few blocks down from where the shaking lady sits most afternoons a guy named ray used to sit. ray was usually a block or so north of wellesley, he would sit on the cement corner of the base of a wall that bordered st. mike's college.

he never asked for money. he just said 'god bless' and 'have a nice day' to people as they walked by. on my first day of my current job i was hurrying past him with my head full of anxiety and he said 'god bless' to me. i almost stopped dead in my tracks, i was really surprised! i smiled at him, said thank you and kept going.

over the next few months we formed a sort of relationship. i would stop to chat when i had the time, usually on the way home. he was a simple person. his intellect was child-like and friendly, yet he was perceptive and empathic. we often talked about the weather, or the importance of not working too hard, and of taking time to live. he wrote simple poetry about friendship and brotherly love and handed photocopies of his scrawled verse out to 'his' people. he told me how he took care of himself by doing shopping for shut-ins and how he visited abandoned patients at the area hospitals. he had a bike loaded with his stuff that he kept locked to the fence down the street. he usually took care to cover it when it rained, but i never saw him ride it. i know he had many friends as there were several people who often stopped to chat with him. although he never asked for money i usually gave him maybe $10/week when i could spare it. i remember one day in the summer he told me it was his 65th birthday and that he could retire (LOL), i bought him a muffin, gave him some cash and wished him well.

then, about two, maybe two and a half months ago he just wasn't there any more. his bike is still locked to the fence, falling slowly into disrepair and decay, but ray is gone. i've looked for him at different times, but to no avail. i wonder if he found a place to get inside for the winter, or maybe a well meaning police officer got him incarcerated for the colder months. i hope that maybe, he found a place to 'retire' to, but i fear the worst and i miss him. :(
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TRIBE Member
Rosey: That's a good story, except for the unknown outcome of Ray.

This is a very sensetive and contentious issue. I think it's really hard to grasp the reality of being homeless unless you have been there. As someone who has, and is caught in the trap of now being just "the working poor", I find it hard to constantly be giving people money every day. I can usually give someone something once a day, and I do pick and choose. Sadly, I do usually try to give it to kids who seem genuinely in need, rather than the elder statesmen and women of the homeless circles. I guess my logic is if something can be done to get kids off the streets, it's somehow doing more than just stabilising someone who has adapted to LIFE of the fringe.

However, I still try, every now and then when I happen to get into a conversation with someone, hear their story and empathize, to give people $20 bucks here and there if I can spare it. I think it does a lot more to brighten up their day that it degrades mine by not having it.

At the same time I'm sure there are a lot of scammers out there, and it's sometimes hard to distinguish. Regardless, we should really be more concerned with WHY we have so much poverty in a brilliantly wealthy nation such as we inhabit. Not only visible poverty in the streets, but thousands upon thousands of families eating out of food banks and living in shelters that we see on the streets but just seem like another person going about their routine. Life for them is quite hellish at times, I'm sure. Living that way is not easy, but is still a blessing above living on a fucking air grate.

Bah. I've rambled enough.


Time to start volunteering.


TRIBE Member
Homeless in Toronto

Although this particular story is shocking, it's nothing new. I think anybody who walks down Queen Street in the summer realizes that pan-handlers are not all destitute and homeless, despite their appearance. Would you be suprised to learn that a good number of these kids are just lazy, middle-class suburbanites looking for a quick buck?

My policy with panhandlers is to never give money. I do not want to be in a position of picking and choosing which beggars are worthy. What if I give a few bucks to one guy, then 30 feet down the street, another guy asks? Would I not be hypocritical to say no? It's all or nothing, in my opinion.


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Regardless, we should really be more concerned with WHY we have so much poverty in a brilliantly wealthy nation such as we inhabit.
Well, one of the reasons is because the provincial government decided back in the early 90s to "reintegrate" mentally ill people into normal society, rather than keeping them in mental health centres.

A substantial percentage of the homeless are mentally ill, and require much more than financial assistance. Not even $2,500 a week would guarantee to keep them off the streets. I think it's difficult to think of homelessness as being a broader issue than wealth inequality.

Unfortunately, every individual in Canada has rights, and you cannot just scoop up the mentally ill from every street corner and throw them in a mental hospital. Well, unless Jim Flaherty becomes our next Premier. ;)

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
I don't give money to panhandlers because I don't think that people should be able to make a living just off of random people's generosity. Giving to panhandlers only increases the problem because they learn that they can make a living by sitting on their asses and have no reason to gain any job skills or make any progress.

I'd much rather put my money into United Way who has programs setup and has progressive goals to meet with the money that's donated. It allows homeless people to get trained and get real jobs and get out of a life on the street and into their own homes.

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