Life on the ‘Nade: The Hecklers
Welcome to “Life on the ’Nade,” a series of observations made as an employee at a fine retail establishment on the Third Street Promenade. Today’s journey of self-actualization and life-affirming change covers the blue-collar panhandlers who work the ’Nade, people whom I affectionately call “The Hecklers.”
1. The Bucket Kids: As endearing as little kids in big sweatshirts are, I’ve ultimately determined their collection antics to be somewhat frightening. Bouncing around at the corner of Broadway and 3rd, the Bucket Kids have an operational style that would make the military cream their pants. Strategically scattered throughout the first block of the ’Nade, the Bucket Kids manage to step in front of the path of nearly every pedestrian, shaking their white buckets and asking for any change to help such-and-such-fundraiser-for-kids. At first, I was impressed by their perseverance (and their consistent “God Bless You” to the brush-offs). But when I saw the Colonel strolling nonchalantly by the topiary dinosaurs, offering new methods of attack and pointing out veritable goldmines, I realized that the Bucket Kids are pint-sized soldiers in Operation Spare Change.
2. The Do-Gooders: These seasonal gems (you won’t find them in the rain) change their causes with the wind (or with whatever bill/amendment/levy happens to be on the table at the time). With their clipboards and chipper demeanor, they seem to only want to help our fair city, but be warned; for their perk turns to smug if you blow them off. Consider them the ’Nade’s answer to the LaRouche cats who work the corners at the USC campus. If you catch them early on, they might even share a laugh with you (those silly Repubs!) but as the day wears on, you’ll find the Do-Gooders losing their steam. They should definitely take notes from the Bucket Kidsâ€¦or at least pick up a Red Bull from Famima!!
And finally, my personal favorite:
3. The God Peddlers: This particular breed of Heckler is as highly potent as Kirk Franklin’s hit “Stomp” was inspirational. Your typical God Peddler consists of a timid Gen Y-er dressed in tapered jeans, a windbreaker and a fanny pack. Don’t be thrown off, sometimes they have glasses. But they always, ALWAYS, have a laminated index card with 5-10 questions about Jesus. They approach quietly, but don’t mistake their hesitation for insecurity, because before you know it, they’ve placed a slight hand on your arm, looked into your heathen eyes, and made their pitch. “Are you interested in any of these questions?” Politeness does not work with the God Peddlers; neither does a side step. The only successful deterrent I’ve found is faking a phone call. But some days my defense is lax. On those days, I wince as the aforementioned question of doom escapes from their pale lips. On those days, I want to respond, “No, but I am interested in why you don’t recognize me as the same girl in the red jacket you approach every single day and who every single day says ’no.’ And I’d actually be even more interested in learning how to avoid the swarming little kids with buckets by Broadway.”
Stay tuned for the next thrilling expose, as I examine the splendor of the ’Nade’s gift to the world of entertainment- The Show People.