Nashville panhandlers were among the first in the country to incorporate the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina into their money-asking tales of woe, according to a report issued by the trade journal Modern Panhandling.
“The Music City panhandlers were not only aware of the news from the Gulf Coast, they were unusually quick to build tales of woe around the hurricane,” the magazine said in its October issue, on newsstands Friday.
“The Nashville group responded much more quickly than those in Miami and Atlanta, which, even two weeks after Katrina struck, were still using non-hurricane-specific tales to encourage donations from passers-by,” the magazine added.
Reports from the street in Nashville support Modern Panhandling’s praise for local practitioners of the art.
“There’s a guy who’s been around here for at least a couple of years asking for money around Riverfront Park,” says one downtown business owner. “Before two days had passed, he had gone from needing gas money to get back to Louisville to visit his sick daughter to being from New Orleans and trying to get back on his feet. It was masterful.”
The Riverfront Park panhandler, who gives his name only as Eddie, is modest in the face of the praise.
“You do what you got to do,” he says philosophically. “People are in a giving mood, but if you’re not careful, that money could go to the Red Cross or some church group.”
In the wake of the positive report in the national publication, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce issued a press release hailing the ranking and praising the style and techniques of Music City panhandlers.
“We are proud of our army of panhandlers for their ability to keep up with the news and weave elements of this national tragedy into their fictitious tales of woe,” the statement said, adding, “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we would stack our panhandlers up against any in the nation.”
(The Fabricator is satire. Don’t believe everything you read.)