Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tennie Simmons - Odd Job Man

When you live in an urban neighborhood, you will likely encounter visits from some of our residents who have different priorities in life. They will come up and see if there are any odd jobs they can do for you. Sometimes they ca nvery helpful. Sometimes not. Sometimes they are just there to scam you. They often have arrests of minor or petty crimes. Sometimes not so petty. One example is George. Another is Jeff Burgess.

I don't recommend you utilize their services. If you do so, be smart. Don't let them in your house. Pay them only after the work is done to your satisfaction. Be clear as to what work gets what pay. You may need to stand around and supervise. Get their name and run a quick background on the HCSO (only goes back 5 years but has photos) or on Clerk of Circuit Court (goes back longer but no photo) websites

Here is another odd job man who every so often pops up in our email group.

DOB: 10/22/48

"This man has visited my house many times begging. When I tell him that there are organizations to help him, he runs off. But, He still returns at least once
a month."

"I was talking to a neighbor, who knew him and called him, "Mr. Simmons." She said he was nice, etc.. He was very persistent in raking my front yard and he did appear to be homeless. I never really answered yes or no before he had started. After his outlandish $ request for raking 6 -7 piles of leaves, I paid him what I had on me, lower than what he wanted, and he left. I
do need to say, however, because this could be very helpful to police should anything further happen, he had a gunshot wound on his stomach. Bobbie had
brought it up and he so graciously showed me. He said he was shot by police. I
wanted no details. The worst part of this is, he came back 2 nights later around
10:45 saying he had no $ to get back to his shelter in S. Tampa (which he did
tell me the previous time that he lived) and that he had no way to get back. It
was projected to get to freezing temps. this particular night and I didn't want
him staying at our house, so my husband gave him $ (very unlucky for us, $20 is
all we had on us at that time) and needless to say, although it's probably
helped keep him away from us, we never saw him again after his 'promise to
repay' the next day."

"I know Mr. Simmons has taken money in small denominations from anyone who will give it to him for the four years I have lived here. I personally have experienced him coming to the door late at night asking for money. . . .I don't think he's dangerous. I do feel he needs to be discouraged from his door to door activities, but I don't know what the solution is. He's been in jail several times and I believe his drug and
alcohol addiction lead him back to people's doors as soon as he gets out."

"He's been a fixture in this neighborhood since we moved here and has
never done more than panhandle that I know of. He is often seen with a rake in
his hand offering to do yard work for money and while he's not the best worker
for your money, he will work if you keep your eye on him."

"This is also the guy who did some yard work for me a couple of years ago, and when he had a big pile in the back yard, he said he'd go get his truck to pile it all in. I
foolishly paid him in full, never saw him again and he took my best rake!"

"This sounds like the guy that we encountered when we first moved in one
year ago. He said he lived down the street from us and needed to get to the
hospital to see his wife, whom we must have seen in the area before in her wheel
chair (which, of course, we hadn't). He asked for money for gas. My husband
instead gave him the gas we had just bought for our lawn mower. He promised to
return the container in the morning. Of course, he didn't. He came again, by
which time we had learned our lesson, and we sent him on his way. He's been
doing this for a good long time!"


Molly said...

This guy frequents my door with his sob story. I try to ignore him but when he sees me peek out the window he just bangs harder on the door. I give back my own sob story of how much money I owe creditors and the bank and the hospital from my appendectomy last year, but he doesn't care much. A month or so ago I told him I didn't want him to rake my yard, but I would give him all of the cash I had in my wallet if he promised to leave and never come back. He agreed. All I had was four dollars. He said he appreciated what I was trying to do, but it really wasn't enough. He finally left and I really do hope that was the last I see of him although I doubt it!

david said...

Yeah, this guy got us too.

He came by on Thanksgiving the first time. We had no problems giving him food. He then went into the whole big sob story on my front porch to my wife and a few friends. The kids who've abandoned him, the gunshot, the settlement - he even mentioned getting a $2k advance in a few days. They collectively gave him about $30.

He promised to pay it back, which was denied by the group, but then he made a deal to come over and do my yard the next day as a thank you. Set a time and everything.

Later that night (MUCH later) he came by again and a few of us were still on my porch. He came up on a very expensive Cannondale bike claiming he'd borrowed it from a friend. He was tweaking of his mind. Winded, sweaty, unable to focus, not making verbal sense and covered in his own urine. We gave him a very big glass of water to cool him off, which he downed in a gulp. One of my friends is a psychologist, who tried talking him down. He claimed he needed more money to get into the shelter (yeah, right) and someone gave it to him. I sorta silently shook my head thinking it was Thanksgiving and I should just let people do what they wanted.

He never came by to do my yard, and managed to completely forget he ever took the money. He's since come by about 4 or 5 times and I've been exceedingly firm with him that I won't give him money. After seeing him later T-giving night, my wife won't either. She actually felt really stupid and taken offering him a few dollars earlier that day, basically saying that's what she gets for trying to be nice.

Granted, that day when he was sober and top of his game he told a mean story and appeared to be very genuine. I'm always very, very suspicious though even if it's to a fault - particularly with strangers asking for money or work. That's just me.