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Editorial: Classical music is the answer to panhandling

Editorial: Classical music is the answer to panhandling
05 May
12:06

An Associated Press news story out of Modesto, California, relates an innovative way that a 7-Eleven storeowner, Sukhi Sandhu, has found with to keep panhandlers and loiterers from hanging outside his store. Sandhu has begun blaring classical music and operas over outdoor speakers.

“Once the music started, the riffraff left,” Manuel Souza, a self-proclaimed member of the riffraff, told the Modesto Bee. From his new spot under a tree further down the block, Souza says the music makes it too difficult “to hang out and gossip and joke around.” Sandhu says it’s worked so well, he is adding speakers to all his convenience stores.

Playing classical music is just one of the non-confrontational tools 7-Eleven used to discourage loitering outside its stores. Requiring store clerks to tell panhandlers to get lost can put the clerks at risk.

“We have received very positive feedback from our customers about the atmosphere created by the music devices piloted in several 7-Eleven stores across the US,” 7-Eleven’s corporate office said in a statement. The convenience stores aren’t the first to use the idea. Classical music has long been known to soothe the savage breast. It’s been successfully used by churches, public facilities, and other businesses.

If the idea truly works so well, we suggest mounting speakers at every panhandler-plagued intersection throughout the greater metro area. If listening to the music from the world’s greatest composers could discourage beggars, soothe road rage, and add to Richmond’s growing arts culture, what’s to lose?

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