When a pair of panhandlers started working the corner in front of a Brighton, Mich., car dealership, the general manager tried to be understanding. But after what he says was a year of disorderly behavior by the two, the general manager had enough.
"We tried to be polite," said Bert Justice, Brighton Honda's general manager.
The two men, whom police believe to be a father and son, parked at the Pizza Hut next door to the dealership, walked to either end of the intersection of Hilton Road and Grand River Avenue and asked passers-by for handouts. The elder of the two stood in front of Brighton Honda.
In response to customer complaints, Justice said he did something unexpected -- he offered the man a job.
"We said he could work at the dealership as a porter. He turned us down, saying he was making twice what we make doing what he was doing," Justice said.
Meanwhile, the panhandling continued. Justice said drivers regularly shouted at the men, and that the pair shouted back, cursing. At one point, the elder of the two urinated into a cup, less than 10 feet from the line of cars, exposing himself to a customer, Justice said.
So the manager drew up a sign and propped it on the hood of one of the vehicles on the lot bearing the message, "Please do not give anything to this panhandler. We offered him a full-time job at $10.00/HR. He said 'I make more than any of you' and he did not want a job, please donate to a more worthy cause."
It wasn't long before passers-by starting photographing the sign, and posting on social media. The message went viral, with one Reddit post receiving 60,000 likes and 52,000 comments in seven hours.
"My whole intention was if he wasn't making money here, he'd move on," Justice said.
Brett Paulson, a new-car salesman at the dealership, posted a photo of the sign on Facebook. In the post, Paulson wrote that the panhandler told dealership employees inconsistent stories about why he was homeless.
"This guy walks in front of where I work and yells profanities at employees, customers and people driving by. He's been offered a job here. He denied the job," the post reads.
Some commenters on Reddit speculated the amount the panhandler was offered by the dealership wouldn't be as lucrative as begging.
"If you can make $400 a week panhandling, then a $10/hour job is underpaid," one comment read. "I mean, that's just logic; what this dealership is basically saying is, 'Don't give this guy money because he won't work for the crap pay we offer when you do.'"
Sgt. Michael Sura of the Michigan State Police post in Brighton said two individuals seen in the area were arrested for disorderly conduct and vagrancy. The identities of the men have not been made public.
Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Vailliencourt on Thursday said charges have not been filed against the two men, and the matter is still under investigation. They have been released pending further investigation.
The sign has since been removed from the dealership.