The logic of the request almost borders on rational, until common sense and human decency sets in. Individuals in Pasadena had neither on Friday, recruiting the city’s homeless to wait hours and hours in line, with a promise of $40 if they are successful in getting their hands on the latest trendy smartphone, reports the LA Times on Sept 21.
“It's thoughtless greed,” says homeless advocate Andy Bales, who heads the Union Rescue Mission. “How in the world could you tolerate yourself after taking advantage of somebody who's at the end of the rope? It's unbelievable.”
Witnesses said "spotters" for a businessman were driving around Thursday shouting from their luxury cars, “Who wants to make some money?” In response, dozens of homeless that had gathered near the Midnight Mission on San Pedro Street, approximately 12 miles away, were herded up and carted away in vans.
The LA Times picks up the story:
“They were driven to the Apple store in Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard. There, a businessman promised to pay them to wait in line for the maximum two vouchers for the iPhone 5s and 5c. Before long, they rounded out a significant portion of the crowd waiting for the store to open Friday morning, according to the Pasadena police, witnesses and several homeless people involved.”
The businessman, who refused to be named, said he planned to resell the phones overseas for a huge markup. The unconscionable request was even defended by the man.
“It's not illegal,” the man said in a brief interview with TV reporters. “I'm buying them at full retail price.”
The plan fell apart however because the covetous businessman forgot one important rule when it comes to a business transaction: You need to have money for the purchase of an item. The homeless recruits only had the vouchers, which entitled them to buy the phone, but no actual cash to compete the sale.
The businessman managed to purchase a few phones himself before store employees, who were informed of his scheme, ordered him out. He then refused to pay any of his recruits, and the hullabaloo escalated to the point that police were called.
The man had to be driven away in a squad car for his own protection, but police said no charges were filed.
“It's not a police issue. It's a business issue,” said Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson.
“He was cheating us,” said homeless man Calvin Windell Pleasant, who has lived on skid row for years and never seen Colorado Boulevard.
“It didn't go right. I stood out here all night,” echoed Dominoe Moody.
As far as getting the homeless back to their area? Well, that wasn’t in the businessman's plan.
“They need to bring him back… to pick up the people that he brought here,” said 49-year-old homeless woman Vivian Fields. “We have no way to get home.”
Andy Bales said, “You're already struggling with homelessness and at times hopelessness, and then somebody offers you a little bit of hope and then dashes it away.”