The Cheap Assholes in the Subway

Most days a week, at some point, I take the A train. The station for it is literally underneath my building; In a pinch, it takes exactly one minute to get from my kitchen to the platform if I don’t trip over the cat on the way out, if I dash down the stairs and don’t wait for the elevator.

You get to know all the characters who panhandle there; where they get on and off, and what their tactic is.

One guy walks barefoot with disgusting feet and asks for money for shoes.

One guy asks for money in a singsong voice, and repeats this little song: “🎶 Can you please spare a dollar for the homeless….. for the homeless..”🎶“.
(And then you get it stuck in your head).

But most have a story about their hardships, and then they ask for help. They prefer money, but usually will accept food, too. They have varying levels of success, depending on the time of day and the collective mood of the car. They’ve gotten their technique down.

However, a new addition to the A train is this guy who glares, brusquely asks for money, and then chastises everybody in the car about what cheap assholes they are. He hasn’t gotten his technique down.

There are people in the car who get insulted and offended. I get neither insulted or offended. Surely, his fundraising tactic is not very effective, but I always felt the presence of panhandlers/homeless people says more about a systemic problem than it does about them. And if lecturing us for being cheap assholes makes him feel better, I won’t begrudge him that. His situation is much worse than mine or that of most of us.

There are many stories about how how people perceived as homeless have a a very elaborate scam going, and are actually living a life of luxury. People love to cite that as an example. However that is the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps the story they have is not 100% accurate, but I am not going to conjecture that it is 100% false and they are playing us. Generally speaking, as a rule, I would believe that a person who is panhandling on the subway has a situation much worse than yours or mine. And the outrageous anecdotes about the Tribecca Lofts and the fortune somebody made on the subway from panhandling; I’m not saying they’re not true, I’m saying they are very much the exception. NYC has 60,000 homeless people; that’s half the population of Albany. And because a few have a racket going, does not negate this issue. The economy is rough, the assistance programs are rife with red tape and caveats, many homeless shelters are dangerous and many of the homeless are mentally ill, lacking the mental faculty to navigate all this. Panhandling on the subway is a simpler and more immediate solution, especially if they believe their situation is temporary.

When faced with the narrative of the supposed panhandler living in luxury, I always like to employ what I call the “Magic Fairy” scenario. If, when conjecturing the supposed luxury of the panhandlers, a magic fairy appeared and offered you the opportunity to switch places with the panhandler in question, most people probably wouldn’t. Even if they seemed so sure they were running an elaborate and profitable scam. Deep down inside we are pretty sure in the vast majority of cases, again, their situation is much worse than ours.

Which brings us to another interesting dynamic. While we have a system that does not meet the needs of the homeless, are we enabling by giving handouts? I think on a theoretical level perhaps, but I don’t think giving a homeless guy a dollar is going to excaberate the problem significantly, especially since it is already there.

From a personal standpoint, the metric of whether I give ie extremely arbitrary. In theory, my rule is this:
If somebody asks you point blank for help, and it does not cause you significant hardship, you should help them in the best way you can.
Do I always practice what I preach?

In practice, when asked for a handout or donation, a number of x factors come into play. Do I have any loose change or small bills in my pocket? Are they easily accessible? Do I already have plans for that change or $1 bill? Will I be able to access that change/$1 bill without displaying larger bills? Do I have a power bar or granola bar on my person? And sadly, it also depends on what kind of mood I am in.

I go out to brunch with my wife every Sunday, and I buy toothpaste that is supposed to “whiten my teeth”, and food that makes ridiculous nutritional claims. I live in a nice, bright apartment in Manhattan. I never worry about whether I am going to eat, or whether I have a comfortable, safe place to sleep.

Panhandlers make us uncomfortable because they should. They remind of us an unresolved systemic problem. Conjecturing the life of luxury they supposedly have, or giving them a dollar every now and then might make us feel better, but the problem is still there.

And while I do not like being confronted, so I probably wouldn’t give anything to the guy who lectures the subway car for being cheap assholes, I do hope his situation improves, because that will likely improve his attitude. Venting frustration and resentment because you feel you are in a world where nobody will help you is very understandable.

I don’t hope he becomes a better panhandler. I hope he finds himself in a situation where panhandling is unnecessary. Because as long as there are people who find it necessary, there is always room for improvement.

The Privilege You Have, (Whether You Like it or Not)

Yesterday I ruffled a friend’s feathers for not denying she was privileged.

It got me thinking how “privilege” has become a very loaded and often misunderstood term.

Often when we hear of somebody who is “privileged”, in our minds we construct someone born with a silver spoon in their mouth, who had everything handed to them on a plate.

Perhaps we think of someone who was able to waltz right into prosperity with minimal effort or struggle on their part.

We might think of aristocratic families who summer in Newport or Nantucket or the Hamptons. Who send their children to prep schools and finally to Ivy Leagues with a high paying, cushy nepotistic job at the other end.

Worse, we might think of someone who has been able to get away with criminal behavior because of their privilege: perhaps as a college athlete or even as a member of society that might view them as above the law.

I can understand that someone who worked and struggled for what they had might take issue at being compared to any of the above scenarios.

However, there is a different context for privilege: that is being one of a dominant and prevailing demographic. That benefits a person. Sometimes it benefits in ways that might not be immediately obvious, especially if you have accepted it as the status quo.

I does not mean you have had everything handed to you on a plate.

It does not mean you have not worked hard for what you have in life, or worked less hard.

It doesn’t mean your accomplishments are worth less.

It is not meant to dismiss or make light of your struggles, disappointments or hardships.

It’s not to say you had an easy ride through life simply because of your demographic.

It certainly is not coming from a place of “Stop bitching, other people have it worse.” That’s mean spirited and counter productive.

It is simply to say that those who are in a demographic that is NOT the prevailing and dominant demographic have some struggles that are unique to them.

That’s what privilege is, at least in this context. Not to be confused with the other context.

I am going to give you a little example, using myself as a guinea pig.

I am a 42 year old straight white guy. I was born in the US. I speak English. Came from a middle class background. College education, which I did not have to struggle to fund.

Any of these factors give me a certain privilege; The aggregate give me a lot.

Here are a few examples of my privilege:

A: I have a reasonable assurance I won’t be hassled by police officers wherever I go. Even if I find myself in an area with a troubled racial relationship with police and citizens, I have a reasonable assurance I will be safe.

B: I can talk about my education, my alma mater, jobs I have had without anyone implying I achieved it through exploiting affirmative action or other programs.

C: I can go into a store without the first assumption being I am there for criminal activity.

D: I can talk about my Irish/Italian heritage all year without having to limit it to February. I can talk about it without people making assumptions about my ancestors or assigning them a country of origin.

E: I can walk literally anywhere with a reasonable assurance I will not be groped, catcalled or otherwise sexually assaulted.

F: Nobody second guesses my sexual orientation.

G: Within appropriate parameters, I can show affection to my wife without someone accusing me of “ramming my lifestyle down their throat.”

H: I have never been afraid of police officers. The vast majority of interactions I have had with them have been positive. The few interactions I have had with them that resulted in a summons; that summons was well deserved and given on the basis of nothing other than them observing me in the process of the transgression.

J: Nobody has ever threatened me with deportation.

K: When I have travelled with my handicapped son, everybody accepted he was handicapped and didn’t assume I was was trying to game a system, or that he was simply a “badly behaved kid”.

K: If a crowd is mostly the prevailing and dominant demographic (white, straight, male) I can blend right into that crowd without attracting suspicion or unwanted attention.

L: Regardless of what way an election will swing, I have a reasonable assurance that my rights won’t be significantly impacted.

I could go on, and on, but you get the picture. The list is not exhaustive.

And a lot of us take these things for granted every day. But that is privilege. It is privilege that can very easily slip under your radar, but it is there.

It does not negate any other struggles or hardships you have had to get where you are, but, all other factors being equal, these were things you didn’t ALSO have to deal with.

Where do we go from here?

I’m not saying you don’t have the right to all these privileges and more. I am saying other people have the right to them too. As in everybody else.

I am also not saying there aren’t people more privileged than you. There are.

Privilege is a continuum. There will always be a group LESS privileged than you, and there will most certainly a group MORE privileged than you.

For instance: You were born in a country with access to clean drinking water and electricity. That automatically makes you more privileged than someone on the other side of the world who lives in squalor and disease.

The old saying:

“I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

Most people have shoes. THis man is LESS privileged than them, but MORE privileged than the guy with no feet.

See how it works.

Privilege in this context is a relative term, but it is also a metric of inequality.

So the next question is how we deal with it? As privileged beings (and if you are white, you are privileged. If you are male, you are privileged. If you are of the dominant and prevailing group in any larger set, you are privileged)

Do we have to wish the hardship on ourselves?

Do we offer to trade places with the less privileged?

You don’t have to do that.

You don’t have to wish the footless guy your feet. Wish both of you feet and both of you shoes.

All you have to do is wish the privileges you enjoy (consciously or not) for the less privileged.

You get it, they get it too.
It’s not a zero sum game.

It’s all you have to do.

The next step here is try to make that happen.

Vote for things with that in mind.

Call out and try to stop behavior where those with more privilege try to power play those with less. You see it all over the place, from hassling the single mom with the EBT card to unsavory sexual behavior, to harassment of people based on their immigration or religion. If you can safely and appropriately stop it dead in its tracks, step up to the plate.

Pay attention to what you are doing. Are you unintentionally encroaching on somebody’s rights and faling back on your privilege for justification? I’m not accusing. I’m just asking. It’s easy to do unintentionally.

Always vote with your feet.

Will you miss opportunities to allay this inequality? Every single day. Nobody’s perfect and it is a big project. IT is going against thousands of years of paradigm. But it is the next big hurdle.

Every thing you do to address this is to bring us one step closer to equality. Because performance is a useless metric if the playing field is not level. It’s always going to be a moving target where our reach always exceeds our grasp.

The most dangerous, destructive thing you can do is fail to acknowledge that if you are part of the prevailing and dominant race, gender, language group, citizenship, orientation, you are privileged. It is not something you can dismiss or ignore or deny. The paradigm is here and has been here for awhile.

It is not a reflection on YOUR character or work ethic.

However what you do with it is absolutely a reflection of all three.

All the Things that are No More…

I should write a sad song about all my favorite foods that have been discontinued.

Like the Chobani Meze yogurt dip.
Or the Evol breakfast cups.
Or the Amy’s non-vegan breakfast burrito. NON(!!!) vegan.
Or Kashi pizza

I should write a sadder song about the closing of drugstore.com.

A tragic dirge of the discontinuation of Hypno Skates (inline skates where the wheel chassis is detachable from the boot)

A requiem mass for the Scooba.

A weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth laden song about the death of Midwest Airlines, and the impending death of Virgin America.

A 90s grunge whine song about the end of Ban Clear for Men.

A nostalgic elegy for Prell Conditioner

A tearful lament about CBGB

A song entitled “O Garden Cafe, Why Hast thou Forsaken Me?”

OR perhaps I should write a cautionary tale called:
“If You Like Something, You Better Hope Rob Doesn’t Like It Too or It Will Get Discontinued or Shut Down”

Bad Colloquialisms of the English Language

COLLOQUIALISMS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE THAT DRIVE ME UP THE WALL:

A: Referring to a container as a “thing”.
EXAMPLE: I got a thing of cereal. There’s a thing of wine in the fridge. We need to buy a new thing of toothpaste etc

Would it kill you to say box, bottle or tube? How much effort would that take?

B: Vocal “Chords”.
There is no such thing as a vocal “chord”. I know you draw the connection between “chord” as a musical term, and your vocal “cord” as the instrument that produces the music, but your vocal CORDS are exactly that. Cords. Like your spinal cord, or your umbilical cord, or an extension cord.

I have seen well written articles in music publications and respectable news sources where that mistake has escaped the editor.

You do not have vocal “chords”. You have vocal CORDS!

C: “You guys”
Except in the most casual of settings, “you guys” is a totally inappropriate form of address. It is overly casual, and isn’t gender correct.
Among the many ways Sean Spicer rubs me the wrong way, his constant use of “You Guys” makes me want to throw him across the room. You don’t say that to members of the media and press, most of whom have credentials that could buy and sell you.

D: “Binge Watch”
Bingeing is a very unhealthy thing to do, and is a compulsion that indicates serious health problems, both psychological and physical.

It is inappropriate to use it to mean “watch a lot of Netflix”.

Not only is it inaccurate, it makes light of a very serious problem; it downplays the seriousness of the health problems that cause it.

E: “Politically Correct”.
The only people who use the term these days are those who want to sneer at the notion that we don’t get to wantonly insult, disenfranchise or marginalize groups of people.

The actual concept, although verbally cumbersome was well founded: the language you use to describe something says a lot.

Sometimes the terms coined were a bit much, but the intent was noble. You should avoid using language that could be insulting to groups. You might need to change your vocabulary every now and then. What’s wrong with that.

It is time to retire the term “politically correct” because people are abusing it.

However the concept should not only continue, but thrive.

I Was a Weird Kid

FROM THE ANNALS OF WEIRD STUFF I USED TO THINK WHEN I WAS A KID:

When I first learned that everybody dies, I thought everybody would die at the same time, en masse, like some big suicidal cult.

Every evening, at some point my dad would announce “Teeth time!”, and my sister and I would brush our teeth in preparation for bed.

Well I figured at some point, my dad would announce “Die time!”

And we would all, you know, go to our beds (or our coffins) and… you know…… die.

I didn’t like it one bit.

As a kid, I made the world out to be a scarier place than it actually was.

A world where older kids would try to give you stickers laced with drugs to get you hooked.

Crawling with random strangers just itching to bribe you into their car with candy (or just drag you there) and then kill you or sell you into slavery.

Where Ronald Reagan could, if he was in the mood, make the unilateral decision to nuke the world (and even as a kid I figured he wasn’t all there).

Where, if you got lost at Jamesway, they would put a price tag on you and put you out there with the merchandise.

It was nice to gradually learn the world was nowhere near as dystopian as I thought it was when I was a little kid!

Brexit

For all that Brexit is a very serious matter, the word sounds like something you would have in the morning with milk. Like

ENGLISH MOTHER: Would you rather have Wheatabix or Brexit, dear?

Or perhaps some kind of dreadful breakfast item that only Brits can stomach, like sauteed sheeps tongue or fermented haggis.
Always served with beans, scotch eggs and mushy peas.
“We could have sausage and eggs, or we could have Brexit and mushy peas”

It also sounds like an Aldi brand.
“You’ll find the Brexit crackers right between the Fiber Now! bars and the Red Thunder energy drink!”

Has kind of a crispy sound to it.

It also could have been a hipster baby name.

“Well, if it is a boy, we’ll call him Brexit, and it it’s a girl, we’ll also call her Brexit!”

Selling your Grandmother’s Wig off her Head

MARY: I don’t know if I could work in sales again; in some cases you have to be willing to sell your grandmother’s wig off her head.

ROB: Is that an expression, or did you just make it up?

MARY: What?

ROB: Selling your grandmother’s wig. That’s hilarious. I’m using it.

MARY: I just made it up. Off the top of my head.

ROB: Ha ha. I’m stealing it.

MARY: Maybe your sleeping grandmother’s wig….

ROB: Nah, why would she be wearing her wig while sleeping?

MARY: True.

ROB: Maybe your old, 98 year old, osteoporotic, walker-bound grandmother’s wig. While she’s on her way to church.

MARY: And sell it back to her. At twice the price!

ROB: What a wretched picture that conjures up!

Growing Feathers on your Feet!

When I was a little kid, I thought that if you ate an apple without washing it first, you would grow feathers on your feet.
Here’s why I thought that:
I lived across the road from an apple orchard. Every now and then the guy who owned the orchard would spray the apples. He did it with a “spray rig”: a loud, noisy, scary, cylindrical vehicle that would make a whining sound and emit a big white cloud of pesticide. While on the spray rig, the guy would wear a respirator mask.
If we were out playing, my mother would make us come in the house when he was spraying (because, of course, houses are airtight, aren’t they…..?) I always complied; I was scared of that thing.
Among the chemicals they were spraying on the apples was a substance called ALAR. IT was banned by the EPA in 1989 because of health concerns, including that it was a possible carcinogen. Moreover, it was suspected of causing genetic mutations. My mother had heard of a case where birds had been growing feathers on their feet, and it was not ruled out that ALAR might have been a contributing factor. ALAR was nasty stuff.
The rule was that we always washed an apple we were going to eat, to wash the ALAR off. My logic was that if you didn’t wash all the ALAR off, you would grow feathers on your feet, because that is what it did to you. My mother, who was very good at stretching the truth to convey a message might have even said,”Make sure you wash that apple or you’ll grow feathers on your feet!”
Having feathers on your feet sounded like a horrible fate.
Of course, in retrospect, those apples were probably so infused with ALAR that no amount of washing them made a significant difference. And today, I wouldn’t eat a piece of fruit that had been sprayed with ALAR, period, whether or not it had been washed. Fortunately, that is a moot proviso, because, as I said, it was banned in 1989, before many of you were even born, so there is zero chance you will ever eat an ALAR infused apple.
The lesson to be learned is we should be very thoughtful about what we put into our mouths, and to have a real, scientifically backed up metric on the safety of it. There is much to be learned from boring, science based research, even it is not as glitzy or fun to read and talk about as anecdotal suspicions. Look at hard, objective evidence and make your decisions based on that, rather than pop media, hysterical anecdotes or any of that which almost invariably get lost in translation.
That bird that may or may not have grown feathers on his or her feet because of ALAR? Most likely a red herring, if, in fact he or she existed at all. The spectre of a feather footed bird was the manifestation of the well-founded suspicion that, with regard to food safety, there is much more than meets the eye. The scientific community is still on the fence as to whether ALAR presented any real health risks.
That uncertainty is scarier than any stories about birds.

Wisdom From A 41 Year Old Geezer…

WISDOM FROM A 41 YEAR OLD GEEZER:
These are all things I have learned on my 41 revolutions around the sun. I have learned them by experience, trial, error, and the consequences of both. The good, the bad and the very bad.

My mother always said, “Don’t make my mistakes. Make your own.”
With that logic, nobody would ever make mistakes. Every success and mistake has been recycled many times.

So, without further ado, I give you Wisdom From a 41 Year Old Geezer.

A: The world is full of people who want to be singers, who want to be artists, who want to be writers, who want to be students. And that’s the problem. They want BE these things. But do they want to sing? Do they want to create art? Do they want to write? Do they want to study? Don’t strive to BE anything. Strive to DO the thing. Don’t strive to be the person who does it.

B: And on that note, stop trying to be successful. Try to be valuable.

C: The idiom “Work smarter, not harder” is a strategy, not a hack. It will not get you off the hook from working hard. It will just make your hard work more effective.

D: Contrary to what you may have been told, other people’s opinions of you DO matter, if it is likely they’re right.

E: You should eat the garnish on your food, if it is edible. If you are eating a meal that is fancy enough to get a garnish, you should also think of needy people who would be happy to eat that garnish.

F: Authenticity is not a measure of quality. Something can be authentic and still be crap. That just makes it authentic crap and you probably paid too much for it.

G: Related to F. Contrary to what you may have been told, you shouldn’t ALWAYS be yourself. For example, if an integral part of who you are involves burning other people’s stuff up, you should retire that part of your identity that is an arsonist. Your identity is not a static thing, and it’s ok to rebrand if you look in the mirror one day and don’t like what you see.

H: With very few exceptions, everybody deserves a pass for stupid shit they did in the first twenty years of life. I’d even give an extra couple of years for slow learners.

I: Forgiveness is a noble thing, but remember to genuinely forgive, you waive all claims to retribution. You are under no obligation to forgive, so think long and hard about what you are giving up before you forgive.

J: You should always exude having your shit together, even if you don’t. Have your shoes polished, even if you didn’t change your socks. Iron your shirt even if you didn’t have a shower. Answer questions in complete sentences and a clear voice even if your answer is that you are not sure. Walk in straight lines even if you don’t know where the hell you are going. If you aren’t sure how to do something, learn as much as you need to keep a step ahead of the process and never let on you don’t know what the hell you are doing. However: do not put yourself in the position of not being able to deliver the goods.

K: Related to J: If you are going to present your shit, make damn sure your shit is presentable. Promise conservatively, deliver generously. Under promise, over deliver.

L: Related to J & K. Be optimistic, but avoid the trap of letting your optimism cross the line into wishful thinking.

M: “Nice” is a pleasant and gracious demeanor. “Altruism” is doing good deeds. The sweet spot is “kind”. To be kind, you must not only do good deeds, but do them graciously.

N: Think of various aspects of your life as strings. Every now and then a string will get a knot you must undo. The secret in untying a hard knot is knowing what to pick at, what to pick at it with, what to pull on and when to pull on it.
O: Smile if you are happy, but never smirk. Frown if you are displeased, but never sneer. If you are angry, convey your displeasure clearly and firmly even if it means raising your voice. But don’t ever make snide comments.

P: In order to be involved in politics, a minimum requirement should be that you are “of good moral character” (And yes, I am aware this, in practice, would cost the jobs of about 85% of government officials). If you intend to vote for a particular person, stand up, and say in a clear, sincere voice:
” [This Person’s Name] is of good moral character.”
If you cannot say that and keep a straight face, you shouldn’t vote for them.

Q: There is an abbreviation in the transit industry: MDBF. That stands for Mean Distance Between Failures. Closely related, there is another abbreviation: MTBF. That stands Mean Time Between Failures. It refers to how long and how far a piece of equipment, on average, can go without malfunctioning. A piece of equipment is most valuable when it has a high MDBF/MTBF and less valuable when it has a low MDBF/MTBF.
We should extrapolate that to ourselves and anything we accomplish. We are most valuable when our average ratio of distance and time to screw ups is high. That is our MBDF and MTBF.

R: We all know we should avoid distractions while completing a task. However sometimes the biggest distractions come from within the task at hand. These are also the toughest to tackle because they covertly present themselves.

S: In conveying a message to someone, the onus is on the person conveying the message to make sure it is accurately received by the person to whom it was given. Everybody has their own way of receiving and processing information, and may end up with a different take-home than what we intended. We should never assume our delivery was crystal clear and we should never berate the person for “not listening” It is our responsibility to ensure the information was transmitted and received accurately.

T: If a food item is deliberately misspelled (as in Froot Loops, or Cheez Whiz), it is a fair conclusion that the food does not contain a crumb of the ingredient it wants you to believe it has. With that in mind, choose carefully whether or not to put it in your body. Not only will it be used as an energy source, it will also be used to construct part of your body.

U: There is a fine, but clear line between initiative and presumption. It is of the utmost importance to be on the correct side of that line.
V: There is no such thing as sex with no strings attached. If you end up in bed with somebody, the relationship changes, and it may not change in a way you want or expect. If you think if won’t, refer to item L about wishful thinking.
W: You should never set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm, but if there is a problem you could easily fix, and you fail to do so, that makes the problem, by default, 100% your fault.

X: Everybody knows you should never make important decisions if you have been drinking, but you should never make important decisions when you are hung-over, either. How you feel affects your mood, and your mood affects your decisions. That means you should only drink in any serious quantity if you are sure you have no major decisions to make in the next 24 hours.
Y: the embodiment of a gentleman or a lady did not disappear with progress. It evolved. We should strive be aware and execute that which constitutes gentlemanly or ladylike behavior.

Z: You are born into this world with two things: Your naked ass and your good word. If you get to a point where your word is no longer good, your ass is not worth anything either.

BONUS: When I was student teaching, the professor associated with that part of my education, Mr. Axel Norden, described the four types of success and failure. To paraphrase what he said:
“I am interested in your:
PRODUCTIVE SUCCESS: You succeeded, and you know exactly what you implemented to succeed, so you now have the tools to replicate the success.
And, yes, also your:
PRODUCTIVE FAILURE: You didn’t accomplish what you set out to accomplish, but you have the insight to look at your process and see where you went wrong so you DON’T replicate it.
I am very concerned about your:
UNPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS: You accomplished what you set out to accomplish, but you have no idea how or why, and therefore lack the tools to replicate the success.
(application of a blind squirrel finding a nut sometimes)
And, of course your:
UNPFODUCTIVE FAILURE: You failed to accomplish your goal, and more depressingly, you have no idea how to get out of this mess. History will repeat itself until you learn.”
The hierarchy here is clear, and it always stuck with me. Many times I have applied this to other facets of my life. Success is a good teacher, but Failure is a great teacher, despite being harsh and unforgiving sometimes.
Do with this what you will. There is nothing new under the sun, and you will make your own mistakes, mistakes that I’ve made, and mistakes my mother made. And likely her parents before her, and before them and before them.
History is a crooked, but ever upward line.

Give a Man a Fish….

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.

Be that as it may.
However:

If you have given a man some fish to eat, he’ll be in a better position to pay attention to your fishing lesson and not be worrying about how hungry he is.
You still may need to give him some fish while he’s getting the hang of it.
If somebody went and stocked the fish pond you own with delicious, fat pike and trout, and you and your buddies repeatedly emptied your chamber pots into the fish pond he has access to, knowing how to fish is less relevant than the body of water he is fishing in.

Because of this you may still need to give him some fish.

Knowing how to fish will do someone zero good in the desert. You may need to ship some fish from your thriving fertile fish pond there to help the people in the desert. Extra points if you can do it without carping (no pun intended)

If you have never given a fishing lesson in your life, nor do you intend to, you don’t get to use the “give a man a fish…” saying

If you expect people to pay up front for the fishing lesson, with fish, you don’t get to say that saying.

If you routinely vote to cut funding for the “fishing education department” because you don’t want your fish tax to pay for it, and voting to get out of the expectation that you give up a few fish to feed hungry people, you have forever lost the right to say the “give a man a fish….” saying.

Seems to me there are a lot of people who love to throw around the “give a man a fish” saying to avoid sharing their fish, but not too many people giving fishing lessons.

My $.02