Bobby’s Birthday Wish

He’s sitting at his usual spot but, today is different. He has a goal of 20 dollars because he wants to go to a street festival near city hall. He tells us it’s his birthday.

Portrait Of Bobby The Panhandler


Bobby’s begging spot is in the doorway of the Starbucks on the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, Boston. He’s a quiet soft-spoken guy with what looks to me like a big drinkers nose. I like him better than the aggressive little firebrand Michael who used to claim that corner.

Boston’s Best Panhandler


His name is Michael, last name unknown. His “office” is the Starbucks on the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets. If you go into Starbucks around 8am you will often see him drinking his coffee on the corner of the communal table or even perhaps catching up on his sleep, head down not moving. The staff seems to accept his presence either way.

I took this portrait of Michael last Sunday as I was picking up the New York Times and the Boston Globe for our morning reading extravaganza. The nice thing about running into Michael inside Starbucks is the staff won’t let him beg inside the coffee shop. Once outside however his empty morning coffee cup becomes his begging container as he practices his trade with professional skill and cunning rarely seen on Boston’s streets. He has been a fixture on that corner for many years and Michael has many regular patrons. I don’t consider myself a regular donor but occasionally I’ll slip him a buck because he is such a pro.

“Daddy Loosen Up!”


Michael The Panhandler in a full throated rant about why we should give him money. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! please loosen up! It’s cold out here!” After over a decade of this you’d think he might finally do something else but he loves this street corner gig.