Hello. My name is Mori. I am the most articulate homicidal maniac you’ll ever meet. I suffer from a serious mental illness as well as a crippling physical disability. And no one believes me. Why? Gary Thompson.
“Gary Thompson has a mental disability and is confined to a wheelchair — at least that’s what he wants you to believe when he’s begging for money. In reality, Thompson is a fraud, raking in $60,000-$100,000 per year (so he says) by panhandling in Lexington.
The friendly, recognizable face from some of Lexington’s most popular shopping centers was exposed this week for his money-making scam, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down. Thompson told LEX 18′s Kristen Pflum he’s “the best” at what he does and plans to continue doing it as long as he’s making money.”
Put another way:
One of the last jobs I held I was working commission sales for a food company. I was driving to meet a potential client when I saw a beggar on the corner. He had the obligatory sign:
I thought to myself “If the people in the car ahead of me gives him something, this guy will have made more today than I probably will.”
Just as I thought that the window slid down and a dollar appeared. The beggar approached with just the right combination of humility and gratitude, took the cash, and added it to a neatly folded wad in a nylon fanny pack. My sale fell through. I didn’t make a dime that day. Was he a fraud? I’m not prepared to say one way or the other. Many are, but many are not.
My partner is a college professor. One of the classes she teaches is Cultural Diversity. There’s a week dedicated to the disabled. Every class, the stories are the same. “My cousin/boyfriend/parent/aunt hasn’t worked in 20 years. They think the world owes them something. All they do is fill out some forms and everything’s paid for!” “I saw a guy begging next to the train station. At the end of the day he walked over to a nice car and drove away!” “I HATE Social Security! I work to pay for those bums.”
I’m sorry. Yes, you do. You pay taxes not only to take care of granny and wounded vets, but also so that scumbags can take advantage of the system. But I pay for it too. There may come a day when I am confined to a wheelchair. When I must beg on the streets and hold a cardboard sign. I’ve even thought what I’d write on it.
“I was like you once. You might be like me someday. Please help.”
If the worst case scenario happens, it will have been made even more difficult than it has to be. Why? Gary Thompson, and all others like him.