Murphy is matter-of-fact about asking for handouts. It's just what he does.
The money he gets -- about five bucks an hour on average -- goes mostly for one thing: crack cocaine. A rock costs $5. As soon as he collects enough cash, he takes a crack break. Then it's back on the corner. He's out every day, for a couple hours at different corners.
"I can't kick crack, " he says. Tears trickle from his bloodshot eyes, carving paths down dust-caked cheeks. "I spend as much as I got. Sometimes I don't eat, I don't sleep."
An Army veteran trained in computer repair, Murphy's been in and out of rehab 14 times. The addiction cost him a marriage and savings and sent him to the streets. Four months ago, the rumor of a VA hospital with a good addiction program prompted him to try Miami. He shakes his head. Not true.
There was another rumor -- that Miami's proximity to South America meant local crack was more potent. Also not true. "The rocks here are big though, " he adds.
The sky starts to spit icy needles of rain and a passing cop car slows to a crawl, its uniformed driver looking hard at the corner scene. He rolls on.
DISCOUNTING THE MAN
Seeking refuge under the overpass, Murphy's nonchalant. Misdemeanor tickets get dismissed in court because panhandling is protected by the First Amendment's right to free speech, he says. That's largely true, although panhandlers can be arrested if they're aggressive or obstructive, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mostly, though, the cops just shove the panhandlers off the streets -- especially when there's an event going on at the nearby Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.
There are other hassles, too. Like competition. Sometimes rivals resort to fisticuffs over a lucrative corner. Other times they'll hang out nearby until someone abandons the location, or they'll come up and say right out, "You've had long enough."
That's another rule, Murphy relates: Don't steal someone else's spot.
That includes positioning oneself at a corner further up the street so when motorists hit the next panhandler a few blocks down, they're already tapped out.
Mostly, though, it's peaceful. The panhandlers know each other, and they share both their corners and the market. As Murphy says, "There's enough money for everyone."