San Francisco homeless man beats me on my own turf: 3 strikes and I was out

Written by Guido Jansen in
October 2011

When you walk through a city, you'll come across people asking for money. Sometimes homeless people, sometimes someone selling a newspaper or someone getting you to signup for a good cause. It has nothing to do with the person or cause asking me, but I just don't like being 'harrassed' on the street when I'm just minding my own business. If I want a newspaper or support a cause, I'll figure it out myself, you won't get it from me asking for it on the street. Or at least that is what I thought...

Today I arrived in San Francisco for the eBay/PayPal/Magento conference next week. After dropping my stuff in the hotel I took a walk outside. The inevitable happend and someone indeed started talking to me. A very friendly (probably homeless) man sees me taking my time, looking around, not sure where to go next. He started giving me advice on where to go (shopping, dinner) and where not to go (dangerous streets, drugs, etc.). Since I'm not that familiar with San Francisco (it's my second time here) I can't judge if the advice was any good, but he probably saw that and knew I would believe him anyway (strike one). After the very friendly (liking principle, strike two) free advice (reciprocity principle, strike three) he asked me for some money for the metro. I gave him some, and walked away surprised that he succeeded. Takeaway: don't directly ask for something you want, it's really easy for the other person to say no. Instead, help someone with something that is relevant to them at that moment. It'll take you a bit more effort, but it'll be much more effecive! Maybe I should look him up tomorrow, maybe he's interested in teaching Dutch homeless people :).

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