Ask McFartnuggets: “Why Do Homeless People Shake a Cup of Coins?”

Dear McFartnuggets: 
I always see homeless people shaking cups of coins and I don’t know why. What is the purpose behind this action? I get that it draws attention to them, but if I give them a dollar then the paper dollar will muffle the sound of the coins and ruin their little noisemaker. With two or three dollars in there then the coins won’t be able to rattle as loud and people won’t notice them as much. That’s why I never give them the money I don’t want to ruin their shaky cup. Their own noisemaker limits their ability to make money so why would they even do that? Why not just find another better way to attract attention to themselves? -- Amber from New Orleans, Louisiana

Dear Amber:
You’re right, they do it to attract potential money donors. I don’t know what you would suggest they do? Signs are nice, but cardboard doesn’t really attract the eye. The sound of coins grabs your ear really well. Shaking a cup of coins illustrates to people how poor you are it helps make people feel sorry for you. The best coin cup has a dollar bill in there just to show other people that it’s okay to put in full bills. If they get any more than that I think they’d just pocket the bills to keep the rattle sound going. If you want to give them money but don’t want to disrupt their cup sound I would recommend dropping in some Sacajawea dollars. Those are nice and heavy and will give a really meaty clinking sound which is sure to catch people’s attention. They may require more energy to shake overtime, but having a cup too heavy to shake I’m sure is a problem most homeless people would like to have.

A cup of coins is like the homeless version of maracas.

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