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Stop me if you've heard this one - A little less than a happy high
komos
komos
Stop me if you've heard this one
Last night, a man approached me in Harvard Square to ask me if I lived in the area. When I said I did, he said, "Oh, thank God!" and proceeded to tell a story about being stranded in Cambridge for having lent his wife his car so that she could go to Springfield, and that he just got a phone call telling him that she had been in an accident. I was suspicious at Springfield, and to make matters worse, at precisely the moment he mentioned the accident, I noticed that he reeked of mouthwash. Not as though he was concerned with oral hygiene, but more like he had just quaffed a quart of it and it was oozing out of his pores.

"I'm sorry," I said as I started to walk away, "I can't help you."

This is about when he started giving me attitude. "You mean you can't be bothered to give me directions?"

I stopped dead and turned around. "IF you have a wife who's been in an accident in Springfield and you have no means of getting to the western part of the state, you don't need directions, you need a bus. Take the T to South Station and see what the nice people of Greyhound/Trailways can do for you."

"Was that so hard?"

I lost it at this point. "I know that you're not trying to guilt me for not falling for the oldest street con in the book, sir. You were not going to ask for directions. You were going to ask for money, and if I gave to everyone who approached me with 'my wife has been in an accident in the western part of the state' or 'my girlfriend is having a baby in a hospital on the Cape' stories, I wouldn't make rent."

He skulked away muttering, "Fucking asshole."
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Comments
why_style From: why_style Date: November 23rd, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
i love how con artists get offended when their con doesn't fool you. like their con is predicated on you being a compassionate person so that when they can't scam you, you must be an asshole. i had a similar experience a couple of years ago, but i ended up giving the lady 20 bucks because her story was so ridiculous i couldn't stop myself from laughing. on my way to the metro a woman reeking of alcohol approached me and said in a very slurred dialect that i looked like a good christian boy...

her story was that she'd come to DC from baltimore with her church group to work in a soup kitchen or shelter or something (it kept changing), and she'd had a diabetic seizure and had to go to the hospital. then she told me that while she was in the hospital her pastor took the church group back to baltimore and now that group apparently had her children in it as well so they were at home alone. so after being discharged from the hospital and returning to the shelter to find her group had left gone, she went to the park police who told her that she could take the metro out to some station in maryland and tehn take a cab from their, but the cab would cost $80. not having the $80, the park police apparently advised her to come down to the national mall "where there are a lot of people" and panhandle to get the cash to get back home. seeing me, apparently the paramount image of a christian, she just knew she could count on me.

it was really quite the creative tale. the amount of detail and the way it just kept getting more and more over the top the longer i held out (i made her go on for about 15 minutes) was priceless. i'm supposed to believe that 1) her slurred speech and odd aroma are the product of a very recent diabetic seizure, 2) her church group would just leave her behind in a foreign city, 3) they'd drop her kids off at a house they obviously must know is empty, 4) the hospital would let her go just a couple of hours after having a diabetic seizure, 5) the only way to get to baltimore is a taxi, 6) the park police would advise her to panhandle, and 7) that i, a very opinionated atheist, am a good little christian. to me, that was worth at least a 10 spot, but only having a 20 i let her have it. she tried to push for heading to and ATM that she just happened to know was nearby for the full $80, but i wouldn't go in for that. the best part was that once she ahd the cash she gave me a hug, then hailed a cab and i heard her ask the driver to take her to the nearest liquor store.
sun_seed From: sun_seed Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
heheh.. funny! i would have given her some money too for the elaborate details of the story.

i had a friend who got stopped the same way and a man had a list of things he needed to get accomplished [or maybe skewed directions he needed help with] and the only thing clueing [sp?] my friend in to this scam was the neat handwriting of all those notes on a very neat piece of paper - in his opinion, if one was stranded and asking for help, notes would be scribbled all over the page in random forms of writing instead of precisely line by line as if they were previously thought out.

~e.
komos From: komos Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's nothing wrong with rewarding creativity, but if someone doesn't even bother to make the effort to entertain me and then gets surly when I don't respond with, "What do you mean 'gullible' isn't in the dictionary?"

Lame.
sun_seed From: sun_seed Date: November 23rd, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
yes. i've heard of folks talking about this for a while now. old scam. some people make it more elaborate actually and seem pretty convincing so one has to look for clues to actually determine if they're legit. i'd rather not take my chances.

~e.
komos From: komos Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've come to a point where, as a rule, I don't give money out on the street. There were numerous factors that led to this decision, least of which being the omnipresence of scammers in this area. I recognize that there are people with legitimate need, but there are other routes to offer help.
ayelle From: ayelle Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
God, I hate interactions like that! I just feel awful no matter how it pans out (no pun intended). I hate being scammed, but I just can't take it when strangers curse at me or guilt-trip me. Ugh, bleah, YECH!
komos From: komos Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interacting with strangers is hard enough without having them engage in verbal mugging.
alex_victory From: alex_victory Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
My dad got hit up by a scam artist at a McDonalds off I95 in Connecticut a few years ago. He gave the kid the benefit of the doubt and gave him some money. Then a month or two later he got hit up by the same kid, same McDonalds, same scam.

For years he would always stop at this same McDonalds on the way to or from RI. The kid was there quite often. At one point the kid had added a girl and a baby to his routine.
komos From: komos Date: November 23rd, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, professional beggars. I wonder if he engages in insurance fraud, too?
teddywookie From: teddywookie Date: November 23rd, 2005 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's pride right there. Guy's never going to make in it the confidence game if he doesn't learn to suck it up and move on to the the next mark.

Also, he's entirely mistaken - the asshole thing to do is what the other guy above did; put on a concerned expression, waste twenty minutes of his (your) time and then explain that you have no money.
komos From: komos Date: November 23rd, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
My approach is exactly the same I use for telemarketers. Though I'm not rude, I will endeavor to end the inquiry as soon as is possible. No sense in wasting his time... he's got work to do and I'm not getting taken.
watchamacallit From: watchamacallit Date: November 23rd, 2005 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I fell for this once. Only it was a man who needed to get to his drug treatment facility in Springfield and had no money for the bus. I gave him a couple of bucks and promised myself I would never do it again.
riverbank From: riverbank Date: November 23rd, 2005 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
i had a teenage boy walk up to me while i sat in my car doing email. he had a clipbook of baseball photos and gave me lines about his youth group needing money to go to some game. i gave him two dollars. i think i was suckered tho cause his grin was full of gold teeth.
canonfire From: canonfire Date: November 23rd, 2005 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Driving back from church a few years ago, I was approached by a man who needed help. Anyway, it turns out that he had to pay for a drug payment to get back his car. I lost $20 for my kindness.

That's the last time I go to church, I'll tell you that!
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