The Difference Between the Working Homeless of Horry County and a Beach Bum

A beach bum. Image from Fiveprime.

Grand Strand homelessness is of course a serious issue, but I couldn’t help but to laugh at some of the definitions that the Urban Dictionary came up with for the term ‘beach bum’. I mean sure, there are restaurants and stores with that name, but I’m not talking about any type of establishment. In this article, I’m referring to an actual human being who is a bum on Myrtle Beach, and why you can’t compare that type of person to someone who is without a permanent place to stay, but is actually working a job and doing their best.

One definition the Urban Dictionary gives for a beach bum definitely doesn’t mirror someone who is among the working homeless on the Grand Strand, and is funny as hell. I don’t know where they got this from, and I swear to God I’ve never seen it anywhere on Myrtle Beach, but one meaning is “an¬†unemployed bum on welfare with no real education who makes extra cash by selling margaritas while naked at the beach”. Maybe a beach bum could get away with this on a nude beach somewhere. But if they tried it here that’s definitely a quick way to get picked up by Myrtle Beach Police Department for indecent exposure.

Another definition they give for this term is much more closely related to what I’ve seen in and around Myrtle Beach, and it is “old men who are hairy and raggety, usually unshaven and smelly”. If you pay attention to the beach access points where those wooden benches are (especially on the south end), you’ll notice a whole lot of these guys. Most of the time they are very drunk, smell like urine, and the last thing on their mind is getting a job. I generally don’t feel sorry for this part of the homeless population, because in most of their cases they’re not putting forth any effort to do better. But I do pray for them.

What’s bad is that the image of this type of person is what’s almost immediately mentally associated with the average citizen who was among the homeless in Horry County. But, the truth is, it is more common to see a homeless person in their work uniform here. The young lady who rang you up for gas, smiling as she handed you your change. The server who made sure your food got to your table quickly and accurately, and made your visit to Myrtle Beach a memorable one. The car wash attendant who gave you a little shine on your tires, even though you didn’t pay for any extras. That very busy bartender who, although they had about a dozen other customers to tend to, still thought to give you a little extra vodka in your screwdriver.

Yes, there’s a very good chance that hard working person may have been currently sleeping in their car, living from place to place, or residing at a shelter. So please, if you find out that one of your co-workers or employees is actually homeless in Horry County, don’t associate them with the image of a beach bum, because they are definitely not that.


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