This has been bothering me for a while now, so I decided to post about it.
Lately I’ve seen a growing number of posts where an individual makes a polite request or posts an open invitation to do pro-bono work, and that alone is causing people to screenshot and post here. I feel like those people are missing the point of this sub. It’s a play on the old adage “beggars can’t be choosers”, meaning that if you’re begging for something and someone offers to help you, you can’t be picky and demanding because you aren’t entitled to that help to begin with. The “picky and demanding” part is key.
Remember the rule each post has to abide by: the individual must be both a beggar AND choosy, meaning that just saying “hey, can someone draw something for free?” alone doesn’t make them a choosing beggar. It just makes them a beggar, and that on its own isn’t a huge issue.
For the record: I’m an artist. I make music, and I’ve been commissioned several times. However, I’ve also done uncompensated audio work for people who need it, and they’ve always been grateful. Those people usually posted a general request on Facebook, and I responded, and they acted very graciously because of that. Now, if I responded and then they started tacking on demands and deadlines and asking for revisions, then THAT would make them a choosing beggar. Those are the people who should be posted here.
I just saw a top post here of a person on Reddit very politely asking for concept art, and it bothered me. He was very friendly and forthright with his request, and people were acting like he was asking for a free tattoo when all he wanted was a rough concept sketch. He could have been more polite in his response to a commenter saying “fuck you”, but there was nothing misleading or demanding about the request itself. He was not a choosing beggar.
Should artists be paid for their work? Absolutely. But there’s nothing wrong with a harmless request from a well-meaning person. When we demonize them, it brings unneeded toxicity to this sub. Remember, we’re against CHOOSING beggars, not beggars as a whole. As an artist, I don’t want people to be afraid of me after seeing this sub, and if I didn’t know better I can imagine being nervous about asking for favors after browsing here.
(Edit: Apologies if the formatting here is off; I’m posting this on mobile and sometimes things go wonky in the transition to PC.
Double edit: Whoa, gold! Thank you so much!)
Probably one classic example of a choosing beggar was in New York during the summer.
After my morning shift as a lifeguard one time, I went to buy myself two pizzas slices. At the store, I sat down on a table with my two slices. At two tables in front of me, I saw a burly, black man in a clean black t- shirt. He was quite menacing since he was twice my size. He was sitting down without anything on his table. But what was suspicious was that he kept eyeing at other people who were eating. Eventually his eyes went to my two pizzas. He literally watched me as I was eating my first pizza and then sits at my table when I was finished with it. Wtf man.
*Note that I am just paraphrasing.
Man: I see you eating two slices by yourself. Can you give me two slices to eat? I'm homeless and hungry.
I was questioning his homeless status and just wanted him to leave.
Me: Sure, I can buy you A pizza. (Hands him 3 dollars.)
Man: Yo, I see you have more money on you. Why don't you give me more?
Me: (As I finish my second pizza) Sorry, man. That's all I can give you.
Man: Why? If you can buy two pizzas, you can afford to me more. I'm homeless.
I had to keep saying sorry and shaking my head to his guilt tripping. When he gave up, he headed to do the same thing to another person.
These types of beggars are dime a dozen but this one took the cake of being the most confrontational and persistant about it.
edit: two pizza slices. of course, not two boxes.
tl;dr some man asked me for pizza. When I gave him some money, he wanted more.
I posted about this situation on r/boardgames asking for advice, on if we should block the person in question, let him be John, but he himself stopped trying to contact us, so now it's fine if I share it here as well, because this is some true choosing beggar material.
Anyway, my husband and I are into boardgames, and we attend several local websites where we can read news and reviews about games. One of these websites has a map where you can pin your location and find new people to play with. This is how John, who lives in our town, found my husband. They started by talking about games, asked each other about their occupation, and this is where my husband made a mistake of telling John that he is a manager in a local factory, whch is the only reason that could lead to the rest of this conversation.
H: I think we should meet up and play games some time.
John: Yeah, haha, I'd love that. Too bad we're short for cash now, struggling to even buy food sometimes.
H: Yeah, that's a shame. Well, maybe later.
John: Yeah, there are so many interesting games I'd love to buy, but can't at the moment. If only there was a way.
Husband ignores this and tries to change the topic
John: Actually, my wife's birthday is coming along and I'd love to surprise her with something nice, a game both of us could play. Too bad all of them are so expensive.
H: Well, you can save up and maybe give it to her a bit after her birhday.
John: I was actually thinking, maybe I'll be able to talk some friends into giving a couple of their games away to us.
H: Well, if your friends can and want to do this, why not?
John: ... hey, why don't you lend me 15 bucks?
H: dude, no. I've never even met you.
They talk for a bit more and then John excuses himself from the conversation
There's probably no need in retelling the follow-up conversation in too much detail. The part of the dialogue that raised my suspicions is gven above. A week or so later, John wrote to my husband about how he bought a 35+ dollar game and is just dying to try it out. However, he and his wife still have no money to go out, even once. Moreover, they can't even invite us over, since they don't even have a dining table and eat on the floor (and yet, they spend over 35 bucks on a game). All in all, John heavily implied that we should invite them over, to which I stongly refused and my husband agreed. This John dude had a very unpleasant vibe about him and I don't usually judge people, but if he came over I'd most likely check if anything was missing afterwards. Anyway, what made me remember about him is that the day before yesterday we attended a boardgaming event in our town, which was free and provided lots of different games to play for free - and yet, John, so eager to play games with new people, was never seen there.
I was driving today to town, enjoying some nice music and the sunny weather. It was about 4 miles away from my destination when I spotted a woman in her late 50s, hitchhiking by the side of the road.
Now, I don't normally pick up people, since alone time in the car feels therapeutical and I'm quite socially awkward, but I was in a nice mood and wanted to help her out.
Stopped the car, opened the door and offered her a ride. She asked me if I was going to a location near the center of town. I said no, I was stopping a bit short, but still inside town limits. She thanked me, but declined the ride.
Thing is, the town is not that big. From where I was going, she had about 10 minutes of walking by foot to get there. It was the first time someone refused my offer for a ride because I wasn't dropping them off exactly where they wanted. I don't know how long she waited until a car met her very specific demands.