No fear of flying

Occasionally, like my allergic reactions to ragweed, Tulsa runs in circles of alarm about panhandlers.



If Matthew were a character in a Charles Dickens’ novel, he wouldn’t be the Artful Dodger, he would be the Artful Flier.

Matthew, 24, is not in a novel; he is a panhandler in Tulsa. “Fly” is street talk for panhandling. 

“I don’t fly signs,” he says. “I use my hat.” His hat is a colorful baseball cap his girlfriend gave him. He wears it sideways. 

In return for a donation — some would call it a handout — he offers candy bars, which he buys wholesale, or a friendship bracelet he made himself.

His personal record is flying 400 candy bars in one day. He didn’t do it for himself; he did it to help a homeless woman with four children get into a hotel for a month. 

Usually he flies for much smaller amounts: $25, perhaps, to get some money for his rent and for his fines. He is always flying to pay toward his fines. Matthew, who says he has been arrested 24 times, has accumulated $6,000 in fines.      

Matthew talks with a street lingo, like someone out of a contemporary Damon Runyon story. “Blue shirts” are officers with the Tulsa Police Department. “Tan shirts” are with the Sheriff’s Office.  

“Tan shirts don’t mess with (panhandlers) much,” he says. “They have more important stuff to do.” 

Some of the blue shirts, however, are hard on fliers. Others are nicer, give him tips on where to find a day job or throw him some slack that day.

“I was on this corner and Officer (name withheld) drove up and said, ‘What are you flying today?’ and I said, ‘$15 to get a pizza, a pop and some cat food,’ and (the officer) said, ‘OK, but be gone when I come back by here in 30 minutes.’”

Matthew also works day jobs — construction work at $8 an hour, for example, or when a business needs a day laborer. When he’s lucky, he can make as much as $50 a day with temporary work.

“Get a job,” people yell at him sometimes when he’s flying. “With two felonies, where can I get a job?” he asks.

As within any culture, the fliers have a set of rules. 

“Say seven of us want the same corner,” Matthew says. “So, we each get 30 minutes.”


Occasionally, like my allergic reactions to ragweed, Tulsa runs in circles of alarm about panhandlers. We may have more than one panhandler, but I’ve seen only one at a time: at my neighborhood post office, at a midtown service station, at an east Tulsa big box store and, of course, on access roads by the bypass. I have never seen Matthew flying his hat.

Who exactly is a panhandler? The synonym is beggar. Nobody likes aggressive panhandlers, but are beggars also the kids holding up car wash signs? Or firemen at intersections collecting donations in their boots?

I do know that not all panhandlers are homeless. Some are entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in getting into the business, you can check the Internet for tips about successful panhandling — best locations, best spiel, best signs. I saw the picture of an unkempt man holding a cardboard sign that said, “Need jet fuel for my Lear.” 

In Los Angeles and New Orleans, panhandlers often wear such interesting costumes — Spider-Man or Mickey Mouse — that tourists have their photographs taken with them.  

In Times Square, panhandlers with shaved heads and orange robes pretend to be Buddhist monks with begging bowls. This is mightily annoying to authentic Buddhist priests.

I feel sorry for us in Tulsa. We don’t have any bogus Buddhist priests, or street mimes in whiteface or even a guy painted gold and pretending to be the Golden Driller.


Matthew was 20 when he came to downtown Tulsa to live on the streets. The first night he slept in a parking garage and while he slept, someone stole his duffel bag of clothes.

“Even my hat,” he says. “I hunted for that hat for two months. Finally found it at an abandoned campsite.”

Then, Matthew began coming to Iron Gate’s soup kitchen to eat, where I met him, and going to the drop-in center at Youth Services of Tulsa. Now he is staying with friends, but he maintains a fierce loyalty to his street friends, or “streets.” 

“I love my streets,” he says. “I’ll never leave them. They help me out. The streets are like my family.”

 

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July 2019

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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"Yer Going to Need a Bigger Boat!" Join Pinot's Palette in the Shark View Room at the Oklahoma Aquarium to paint sharks surrounded by the sea. Part of the Oklahoma...

Cost: $39

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-1507

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Cost: $1+

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Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
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The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

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Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

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, OK


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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Please join us for our yearly summer music series as part of your Tulsa City-County Library's Summer Reading Program.  Vocalist Janet Rutland closes the season on July 22 with the music of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Library
400 civic center
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Tulsa City-County Library
Contact Name: Rebecca H

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The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
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Magi 4 Christ Campers meet each Monday at 6:00 PM until 7:30 PM. At 4241 S. 37th W. Ave., Tulsa, OK. 74107.  We are a Christian group of camping enthusiasts. We are family friendly. Meeting...

Cost: Donations only

Where:
Hope House
4241 S. 37th W. Ave.
South Door Activity Center
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Magi 4 Christ Campers
Telephone: 918-906-0564
Contact Name: Dorothy Brown

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Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
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Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

This Magical event features: A Grand Entrance into our Showroom Greeted by Fairy Tale Princess Characters A Charming Breakfast Buffet (with paid...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Dave & Buster's
6812 S. 105th E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74014
View map »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
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Tulsa, OK


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Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
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The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Needle Punch is an "old" craft that's come back into the mainstream within the past few years. Not only is it extremely easy to learn, but the creative possibilities are endless! If...

Cost: 75.00

Where:
Pottery Barn Utica Square
1864 Utica Square
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Telephone: 918-619-5009
Contact Name: Sallie Dale
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Would you eat an invasive species? You can! The Nature Conservancy has challenged local chefs and restaurants to make you delicious dishes from invasive and native species as they compete for the...

Cost: 125.00

Where:
The Mansion at Woodward Park
2435 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy of Oklahom
Telephone: 405-445-5518
Contact Name: Larissa Balzer
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Would you eat an invasive species? At this event, you can! The Nature Conservancy has challenged Tulsa chefs and restaurants to make delicious dishes from invasive and native species as they...

Cost: General Admission: $125

Where:
The Mansion at Woodward Park
2435 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: The Nature Conservancy
Telephone: 405-503-1411
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Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


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Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
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11th Annual Quilt Show featuring judged and non judged quilts made by Sequoyah County and surrounding area quilters.  We will have vendors, demonstrations, door prizes and a boutique.  We will...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Blackgum Harvestime Church
451558 E 0980 Rd
Vian, OK  74962
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Sponsor: Blackgum Harvestime Sewing Sisters
Telephone: 918-457-9362
Contact Name: Sharon
Website »

More information

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

The Please Touch the Art exhibit breaks the rules of traditional art exhibits and makes art accessible, especially for visitors who are visually impaired or blind. Guests are encouraged to touch...

Cost: free & open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74135
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Ability Resources' Raffle for Independence will take place on the 29th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Great prizes to be announced! 

Cost: $5

Where:
Tulsa, OK  74120


Sponsor: Ability Resources
Telephone: 918-592-1235
Contact Name: Krisann Diaz
Website »

More information

Join choreographers from across the country for the first of three intimate showings of new modern and contemporary dance, from the hilarious to the introspective, followed by a moderated...

Cost: $12.00-$15.00

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Bell House
Telephone: 918-269-1621
Contact Name: Alicia Chesser
Website »

More information

Celebrate the Latin and Hispanic cultures in our community at La Fiesta de Tulsa at Gathering Place! With live music and festive food and drinks, La Fiesta de Tulsa will bring all of the Latino...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Website »

More information

Join choreographers from around the country for an intimate evening of new modern and contemporary dance: five experimental, tender, challenging, moving works of art, followed by a moderated...

Cost: $12.00-$15.00

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Liddy Doenges Theate
110 E 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Bell House
Telephone: 918-269-1621
Contact Name: Alicia Chesser
Website »

More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

11th Annual Quilt Show featuring judged and non judged quilts made by Sequoyah County and surrounding area quilters.  We will have vendors, demonstrations, door prizes and a boutique.  We will...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Blackgum Harvestime Church
451558 E 0980 Rd
Vian, OK  74962
View map »


Sponsor: Blackgum Harvestime Sewing Sisters
Telephone: 918-457-9362
Contact Name: Sharon
Website »

More information

Sharklahoma is a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Jenks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate our community and its local businesses, while also raising awareness about the ecological...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
, OK


Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

The purpose of Opioid Epidemic Response is to provide an educational community event that brings together patients, providers, community organizations, and elected and appointed officials to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cherokee Community Building
908 S College Ave
Tahlequah, OK  74464
View map »


Sponsor: OSU Center for Wellness & Recovery
Telephone: 918-561-1883
Website »

More information

Join choreographers from around the country for an intimate afternoon of new modern and contemporary dance on themes of (dis)connection, home, belonging, and presence, followed by a moderated...

Cost: $12.00-$15.00

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Liddy Doenges Theate
110 E 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Bell House
Telephone: 918-269-1621
Contact Name: Alicia Chesser
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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More information

Help DVIS and the Tulsa Drillers knock out violence! We are in our 16th year of raising funds for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Join us by pledging per home run or making a...

Cost: $1+

Where:
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: DVIS
Telephone: 918-508-2709
Contact Name: Jenée Day
Website »

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