For Your Own Sake, Loitering and Loafing: Know The Difference

Loitering or loafing?
Loitering or loafing?

Let's let the law speak.

The debate goes on. Just what is the main and distinguishing meaning of "loitering" and "loafing?"


The law, which defined loitering as "remain (ing) in any one place with no apparent or civil-purpose", gave the police a right to disperse such person or persons and in case of disobedience, civil or otherwise, provided for a punishment by fine, imprisonment and/or performing community service.


"Loafing," legally-defined is having no employment; inactivity; inactive; idleness and wandering aimlessly from place to place providing or contributing nothing of substance to family or society.

These citizens sitting on a park bench makes them just talking.
These citizens sitting on a park bench makes them just talking.

Two controversial words.

Notice how similar the two words, "loitering" and "loafing" are in context. Frankly it confuses me even with the legal terms, why it is illegal to loiter, but not illegal to loaf? I would not like to be the police officer on patrol and see a group of guys just sitting on a storefront doing absolutely nothing but gazing at the sidewalk. The judgement of this group has to be near-perfect. Are these guys breaking the law or simply passing the time?


With the police being scrutinized more today than a year or two ago, you can see why a police officer would be stressed when facing such a situation as the one above. And what about the police officer on his day off? Huh?

Police officer talks to would-be loiterers.
Police officer talks to would-be loiterers.
These are definitely actors pretending to be into loitering.
These are definitely actors pretending to be into loitering.

You be the police.

Let's say that the officer wants to get out of his house for the day, so he decides to walk to the city to get his exercise and to just do something besides enforcing the law. Then out of nowhere steps, "Bill Caroll," a fellow police officer who went through the police academy with the officer who is enjoying his day off. Before long, the two are shaking hands, catching-up on each others lives and finally settling down to sit on a bench in front of the post office and relax.


Are these officers loitering or loafing? You be the police and make the call. Our society and its foundation rests on your ability to make this call. Do you see now the super-importance of this subject?


To add miles to your knowledge of loitering and loafing, let's look at the two terms in question and notice the situations afforded to each one and then you will have a "working knowledge" on these controversial terms

And now, comedian, Brian Regan.

This sign is not hard to follow.
This sign is not hard to follow.
These youth are loafing.
These youth are loafing.
Are the homeless loitering or loafing?
Are the homeless loitering or loafing?
Police officer tries to find out if this girl is loitering or loafig.
Police officer tries to find out if this girl is loitering or loafig.
A paradox.
A paradox.
This one is a tough call.
This one is a tough call.
In the 1950's, people who loitered were arrested and booked.
In the 1950's, people who loitered were arrested and booked.
Both African-Americans and white people as well as other races are often stopped by the police to find out what they are doing.
Both African-Americans and white people as well as other races are often stopped by the police to find out what they are doing.

Copy these down if you like.

If You Are Loitering You Are:

  • Sitting alone or with someone gazing at the sky or the ground.
  • You have forgotten what the term "employment" means.
  • You believe that "this" place where you and your buddies sit is your real "home."
  • The highlight of your day is just getting to the place where you sit each day.
  • The cop on the beat has grown weary of asking you, "don't you have somewhere to be?"


If You Are Loafing You Are:

  • Yukking it up with a gang of your friends in front of a busy grocery store not caring if the sun shines or not.
  • Your place in front of the busy grocery store is just one of four places you love to sit and do nothing.
  • Most of your town's population has seen you and your pals in these four places at one time or the other.
  • Your nick-name is now, "Lead Butt Lenny," although your name is "William."
    Wondering how to get back to where you really live.


Since Sept. 11, 2001, I can understand completely why the police, state, and federal officers are automatically-suspicious when they see:


  • Men or women dressed in drab colors, wearing sunglasses, holding a briefcase and positioning themselves near a huge electrical sub-station.
  • Men or women seen trying to climb the ladders near those huge water tanks outside of a city for no apparent reason
  • When these men or women see a police cruiser traveling their way, they hide as best they can.
  • When the police stop to ask these men and women a few simple questions, these suspicious men or women sweat like Niagara Falls and it is in the dead of winter.
  • Or . . .when the police stop to talk to these men or women, the men or women take off running like a track star.


My last piece of valuable advice is to you, my cherished-followers:
If you are in your hometown tomorrow, be careful to not sit down near a government building or busy grocery store, or you could be arrested for loitering while loafing.


And the debate goes on.

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Comments 6 comments

Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 19 months ago from Shimla, India

Woww.Thanks for writing this. For an outsider like me who will soon visit United States, i should know the difference.

Voted up.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Well done. I clearly am a loitering loafer. Ain't nothing better than doing nothing with no purpose in doing nothing.


Kathleen Kerswig 19 months ago

Interesting topic - I never thought about the comparison before. Yet another example of why people should follow you and read your hubs. I just never know what I'm going to learn next from your articles. Thanks for sharing my friend! Blessings!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Kathleen,

You are a great friend for saying the sweet words in your comment.

I would love to have around 200,000 fans to write for. Honest.

You have a peaceful day and visit with me anytime.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Eric,

You are one true visionary.

You have taken a common everyday practice, redefined it and now shown the police that one can enjoy a good loiter.

Wow.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Akriti,

You will be a pro in no time telling your friends the wide differences between loitering and loafing.

What a time to be alive in 2015.

Visit with me anytime.

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