Want to get your biggest haul of treats ever this Halloween?
Need tips on how to get in the faces of those who dare to put a heathy item instead of sugar-laden treats in your bags?
Then you need to learn from the pros.
Halloween is just two days away.
That gives you plenty of time to master the techniques of the ultimate trick or treaters - Ceres' panhandling "homeless." It's all about costumes, attitude, body language, sign messages, casing the right neighborhood to troll for goodies, mastering the whipped puppy facial look, and making sure if your parents drop you off in the family's 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO they bought for $34.65 million at the Pebble Beach auction in August they do so two blocks away from your intended marks.
First the costume: You've got to invoke both empathy and sympathy. Make those who answer the door bell relate to your costume. Since older people are easier marks than 20-somethings that are likely to be out partying Halloween night or answering the door with their nose stuck in a smartphone, don't go for the latest costumes. At the same time something brand spanking new that is nostalgic isn't as effective as a dated costume that looks like it came from the reject barrel of a second-hand store that bought leftover inventory from Goodwill.
Going door-to-door without a mask can earn bonus candy if you do it right. The homeless that score using facial expressions specialize in being pathetic. They work on frightened doe eyes accented by dirty facial smudges and slightly unkempt hair. It is important not to go too far south on the down-and-out look. There is a fine line between being downtrodden and looking like you just came off a 10-week meth binge.
Those that dish out hard earned cash to panhandlers and give away candy are suckers for little kids. Even if you are a pre-teen and don't like your snotty nosed and clingy 4-year-old brother hanging around you and your pre-teen friends, they are indispensable when shaking down motorists or hauling in the Halloween loot. Make sure the kid clings to you after you ring the doorbell. If the adult answering the door looks like a "one candy bar per customer" type, have your little brother trained to sniffle and then wipe his eyes when you tap him on the back. With a little luck it'll empty the wallet and/or candy bowl. Just make sure you have a pre-negotiated deal with your younger sibling that you get half his take for allowing him to trick or treat with the big boys.
Don't hit just any neighborhood. Go for the high-volume location where people are apt to be flush with Halloween candy and where you can play on guilt more effectively.
You ever wonder why homeless panhandlers flock to shopping centers that have restaurants and supermarkets? They know you are thinking about food. And nothing can make you feel more guilty than coming out of McDonald's with Happy Meals for your kids that are lucky enough not to be homeless or a car full of groceries than two kids with puppy dog eyes, a father with a dejected look sitting while burying his head between his knees, and a determined mother holding a sign reading: "Family of Four homeless. Please help."
For the best example go the Hatch Road overpass. Be smart like this panhandling family. Only work the big traffic areas. Do it only on the busiest days so you don't waste your time being there every day.
If you are looking to score real big then work on the nuclear solution.
This requires pairing up with buds and working a neighborhood while having one of your mothers come along and hang back by the street. In this case, it's important to forgo wearing costumes you and your buddies think are cool.
Have one of your friends wear an old bed sheet with eyes cut out. Make sure it looks a bit dirty. Another should wear school clothes that look like he's worn them for two weeks. A slight smell helps but only if it reminds whoever is answering the door of a kid unable to bathe because they sleep in a car. They should have tennis shoes that not only look filthy but appear as if a dog used them for a week as a chew toy. Make sure the shoe laces are shredded and broken. As for you, try to pull off the Oliver Twist look and be as presentable as possible while still being on the edge of being grimy. Get a fairly small bag you cup in your hands that you extend forward while politely saying, "Ma'am, may I trick or treat please?"
The second the first candy bar plops in the bag thank them profusely - usually that gets a second candy bar. Before the person you are tricking - I mean trick or treating - gets a chance to drop a candy bar in one of your friend's bags, make sure your mom is trained to pipe up "God Bless, God Bless, "Thank-you. God Bless." There's a good chance you'll get the entire bowl of candy.
If nothing else works to get a big haul, simply ring the doorbell flying a crude cardboard sign reading, "Will work for candy."
It does the trick every time.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.