|At one time there was a plague of extras from Dick Tracy comics infesting the parking lots of this fair land.|
|Craig Douglas, right, politely declines to contribute to Unknown Contact's dope fund.|
Craig Douglas (aka "southnarc") of Shivworks has a block of instruction covering Managing Unknown Contacts that stresses a few simple things to do in these situations. Some were things I'd already been doing by accident, since I get plenty of practice at this, living in the city. Others are things I'll be incorporating into my own habits, like making sure I've put more distance between myself and the parking lot panhandler before giving them my back.
One thing of interest was having a script or "tape loop" verbal response to use initially in these contacts. The reasoning behind that is that while actually engaging in dialogue uses a lot of mental resources, a scripted response (I practically automatically say "Hey, sorry, buddy; I can't help you," and have for years, simply to avoid leaving the "Hey, I'm talkin' to you!" opening that silence would) leaves the brain free to watch the hands, look for other dudes, and generally process the situation.
I'll probably get a chance to practice on our local celebrity panhandler soon enough. The neighborhood internet forum says she's escalated from asking for gas money to hopping into cars and wandering into unlocked homes.
Even if you're not ready to roll on the ground in Craig's ECQC class, I highly recommend at least the Managing Unknown Contacts portion of it if it's being taught anywhere near you.