It's tragic, it's heart-breaking.
But I'll be damned if it isn't interesting how a majority of the Chicago Loop's panhandlers employ a very specific technique for signaling their request for your change. I've never seen this technique in use in any other city.
The Chicago Loop does have its share of the classic global techniques such as the Hand-Printed Sign or the Laying on the Sidewalk or the very successful Guy Drumming on Plastic Tubs. Today I witnessed the saddest technique of all - Woman with Printed Sign and Child in Stroller.
But these are the exceptions to the dominant Chicago Panhandling Technique.
1. Obtain plastic cup.
2. Fill cup with a large quantity of coins (see Note 1 for quantity guidelines).
3. Stand still in one place.
4. Rattle cup.
5. Say absolutely nothing.
6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 (see Note 2 below for frequency distribution)
Note 1 - having a few lone coins in your cup won't produce the distinctive sound required of the Chicago Panhandling Technique. You need about an inch of coins. I have yet to walk past a serious practitioner with only a few coins bouncing around.
Note 2 - a typical rattle sequence goes like this: two or three shakes, then a pause for three to five beats. Yes, it's arrhythmic, but I think it's supposed to be. If the Chicago Panhandling Technique followed a 4/4 or 6/8 rhythm, you wouldn't hear it.