Design Observer just posted an incredible slideshow called "Hard Times," a collection of signs that Michael Zinman bought from panhandlers.
Being a collector, once infected, you pursue the thread, and over the past eight years, I have been accumulating a number of other, similar, signs. Some are facetious, but most are sincere pleas for help. The signs were acquired across the United States — New York, Miami, Palm Beach, St. Louis, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles. Some of my friends in the bookselling community, learning of my quest, purchased signs on their own and sent them along. Robert Rulon-Miller sent a particularly interesting one, and took the time to catalogue it as a serious broadside (which, when you consider it, it is.)
I'm pretty impressed by the range of strategies in sign-writing, and surprised by the length of a few of the more narrative examples. Usually, when you encounter one of these signs, you're doing your best to either look away or muster up a bit of compassion. But, as Zinman writes, "the cumulative effect of looking at the signs assembled here is rather different," and you realize that for a lot of people, these are very hard times, indeed.