Thursday, January 21, 2016

‘Hey man, can I have a dollar?’

Truckers see just about everything imaginable, and often the unimaginable, while traversing the nation’s roadways. Interactions with people while out of the truck can be an adventure.

An effort underway at the Washington State Legislature that got my attention covers encounters truckers and other travelers can have with panhandlers at rest areas and rest stops.

The fact that a handful of state lawmakers believe the issue is serious enough to warrant a law addressing it got me to thinking about just how big of a problem truckers have with people asking, or possibly demanding, a handout.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, is the lead sponsor of a bill that addresses instances when a person aggressively panhandles at any public rest stop or rest area. The bill defines “aggressive panhandling” as “any solicitation made in person requesting another person to make a donation of money or to purchase an item.”
The legislation goes on to provide a list of 18 situations that would be a no-no for panhandlers. Among the scenarios listed that could get the solicitor into trouble are impersonating a military veteran, faking a physical disability, pretending to be from out of town, blocking the path of the person solicited, following a person, making a threatening statement or gesture, and coming within three feet of the person solicited without indication that he or she wants to make a donation.

Violators would face up to 90 days in jail and a fine as much as $1,000.

What do you think? Is aggressive panhandling as it is defined above a problem at Washington state rest stops and rest areas? Anywhere else throughout the country come to mind?