Why steal from other homeless people?

By Max R. Weller

The easy answer is that it’s because the thieves are worthless scumbags, but I’ll put that aside for the moment.

I have maintained a food cache near my campsite for many moons, as a matter of convenience so I don’t have to ride the bus all the way down to King Soopers to shop every day. (I don’t receive food stamps nor do I patronize the many venues serving food to the needy). Sometimes, the wild critters like mice and foxes have helped themselves to items like bread and chips, since they’re unable to open my canned goods despite their ingenuity, otherwise. This doesn’t bother me in the least; indeed, I often share chips with the mice and stale bread or chicken bones with the foxes and occasionally a skunk (I toss my donations far away from my sleeping spot, because Br’er Fox and Br’er Skunk tend to get into squabbles over food).

If any of the transients who wander around my neighborhood, apparently to no good purpose, asked me for food I’d gladly make it available to them. In fact, Boulder, CO has more resources for the poor and homeless to obtain food than any other city I know about — so any help I give would be gratuitous. As long as I’ve written a blog, since October of 2009, I’ve made it a point to list resources of all kinds for anyone seeking that info. Currently, I have about three dozen under the Page called “RESOURCES FOR THE HOMELESS IN BOULDER, CO” and it receives more hits daily than almost anything else here. A lot of food is given away in this city, and it’s no exaggeration to say that anyone who takes advantage of it all will soon be overweight, just like me.

Imagine my feelings of dismay and anger, then, on the occasions when I discover that some two-legged critter has stolen food from my cache! It happened again within the past few days; I was looking for one of my cans of Spam last night, to take with me for lunch today, and found that both were gone. Spam is a personal favorite of mine, in sandwiches on white bread with Miracle Whip. I regard it as a special treat and I look forward to wolfing it down like a starving refugee. (I know, I’d be much better off if I had the same passion for fruits and vegetables). During this past winter, I had all of my camping gear stolen in two separate incidents, a more serious loss than food — but there is something elemental to our survival about that which we eat and drink to fuel our daily activities, so it seems more important. There’s the issue also of invasion of my privacy, with a thief rifling through my stuff to find whatever might be most desirable to steal.

Those who can’t take advantage of free food giveaways in Boulder, CO are either ignorant or lazy. I despise ignorance and laziness. And yet, I would still help them in response to their humble requests for something like a bag of chips or (gasp!) a can of Spam. They have only to ask me.

On the other hand, if I catch a thief with his hands on my goods I’ll commit mayhem upon his person. I learned a long time ago that you have to set things right yourself in such cases, whenever the chance presents itself, or there will be no end to the thievery.

And that brings this post full circle: the thieves are indeed worthless scumbags.

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