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being asked for money is not really threatening

It can be, if it's someone who won't take no for an answer. I've been approached in public by mentally unstable or drugged men sometimes (certain neighborhoods here). They can be persistent. If they choose your table to sit at, they won't want to leave. In a country that took better care of its poor, they might get treatment, but that's another issue. It's unpleasant in any case.

Of topic, I know, but I find it ironic (in a bad way) that the US put many of these people on the street to save them from the even worse conditions that existed in state hospitals[1]. As somebody with a loved-one with a serious mental illness, I don't find where we've landed to be an improvement.

1. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/31/9/2138.full?sid=...

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