One Paycheck Away: Las Vegas

The Truth Comes Out

Dell, a Dr. Phil staff member, puts on raggedy clothes and dirties himself up before he hits the Las Vegas streets with his paper cup. When he asks people for money, he is often ignored, although every once in a while he gets a look of dismay or a wave of dismissal. At times, people give a little change, while others give excuses, like losing their money in the casino. Others are frightened, including one guy who tells Dell to back away.

A man shares his thoughts. "The last thing you need to do is to give the homeless little handouts like that. They'll use the money for drugs and alcohol," he says.

A woman explains, "I didn't give him anything, because first of all, I'm afraid to go in my purse."

Another woman says, "When homeless people ask me for money, I tell them, ‘Get a damn job.'"

A man offers Dell his advice. "There's a million jobs in Las Vegas. I'm not going to give these guys a nickel. Everybody has control over their life, and when they exercise that prerogative to be homeless, that's just the bed they've made, and they can stay in it," he says.

Dell shares his thoughts on the experiment. "It was enlightening. It was really a terrible experience. I was ignored and treated like I wasn't alive. They won't make eye contact. They won't listen to you, and they just pass by," he says. Some people were even mean. "One guy pointed his fingers and made like he was going to shoot me. I think a lot of people wishe
d I was dead. I got that sense."


Dr. Phil notes that Dell collected $20 during the hour he was on the street. "The Dr. Phil Foundation is going to add some zeros to that, and we'll turn it from $20 into $2,000, and we'll give that to United Way," he says.