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Friday, September 11, 2009

Twelve Dollars

On our recent trip to San Francisco (I may be starting several posts like that so please indulge me just a wee bit), we encountered a lot of interesting folks on the street. Most of the people asking for money simply sat on the sidewalk with a sign encouraging people to give or not give without much intrusion. My favorite was the guy with the dog (dog was wearing sunglasses) and his sign asked for money so he could buy a cheeseburger for the canine. I wasn't fooled by that though - everyone knows it's cats who eat cheeseburgers.

There were, however, exceptions to the hands-off approach. One guy was so in my space that it made me afraid. Another practically jumped Joe at the ATM. A third was preaching the love of Jesus so aggressively that I was pretty sure his "hero" as he kept calling him would punch me in the face if I didn't declare my devotion.

And then there was the man that approached us as we were walking back to the hotel on Thursday night. He was dressed reasonably well and told us that he had been taking Greyhound buses across the country. He was on his way home to Alaska but had left his ATM card in a machine earlier that day in LA. He had a cellphone but was unable to reach his parents. However, the bank was sending him a replacement card the next day. His intent was to stay in a hostel for the night but he was $12 short. He assured us that he wasn't crazy or homeless, just that he had fallen on a bit of bad luck.

Joe felt compassion, as Joe often does. He gave the man not $12 but $13. Everybody "awwwww"...

Except, and I didn't say anything which I later regretted, I felt reasonably certain Joe had been taken this time. It seemed we'd never know so there was no point in raining on Joe's parade if it made him feel warm and fuzzy.

Let's now fast-forward to Sunday morning. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you will recognize Sunday as "The Day of the Bus Ride To and From Hell Via the Scenic Route With the World's Suckiest Tour Guide EVER". Look for a post on the "Eternabus" (tm @dpringle) coming soon. Anyways, Joe jetted off for the ATM while I waited (and waited and waited) for the tour bus to pick us up. During my wait, I was approached by a familiar face.

"Hi, I'm on my way back to Alaska via Greyhound but I left my ATM card in the machine yesterday in LA and I can't reach my parents. I'm supposed to receive a new card today but in the meantime I wanted to go to a hostel for some rest and a shower. Could you help? I'm $12 short. Also, I'm not crazy or homeless, I just had some bad luck."

Oh, really?!?!?

I could've/should've just said no and walked away but could've/should've is so dull I couldn't quite let it go. I told him we had already given him $13 a few nights before and asked what he'd done with that. I told him no way was I giving him any more money because he was a lying liar that lies! I wanted to tell him it was a good thing he couldn't reach his mom and dad on that fake cellphone because they would be ashamed of him but I'm not a completely cruel person as soon as he realized I wasn't giving him a handout, he turned and walked away. This left me yelling on the sidewalk like a lunatic. But dammit, I was going to speak up! And speak up I did.

I'd like to say I felt better afterwards but that wouldn't be entirely true. Mostly because I now regretted my earlier decision to not speak up - on Thursday night when I wanted to tell Joe I thought he'd just been bamboozled. Because now I had totally bungled my opportunity to say "I told you so!" when Joe returned.

And that's the real bummer to me. Not the loss of $13 but the loss of the "I told you so." Best wife ever, right here.

15 comments:

Seansmoma said...

LOL My husband and I had a similar experience while attending the wedding of a friend in KY. We were in a parking lot enjoying some fireworks near the riverfront when this guy walked up to us and started freaking out about his car running out of gas and his kids being stuck in it. When it didn't look like we were going to help he offered to sell J his sunglasses. I remember I whispered "Don't do it." But he didn't listen. He took the glasses and gave the man ten bucks. The guy then proceeded to rush off in the OPPOSITE direction of where he came from. Yeah, he needed gas money.

Princess Andy said...

i love the "i told you so" moments.

they're even better when you don't have to say it because it is SO obvious.

andy

blognut said...

I hate lying liars that lie.

Drahdrah said...

Joe's intentions in giving the 13$ were good, that's what counts. The fact that the recipient was a con, does not take away from the kind gesture, and should not stop Joe, (or you) from giving in the future. I'm not saying that you should get sucked into EVERY sob story you hear, (you should always let your gut guide you), but don't let this stop you from helping those in need.

Comedy Goddess said...

Getting to say I told you so, Priceless.

mo.stoneskin said...

Damn you got me, but you'll admit it was very cunning and I was smartly attired?

Actually similar thing happened to my wife. Guy was asking for money so he could visit his brother in hospital. She wouldn't give money, but kindly bought him a train ticket. The following day she saw the bastard playing the same trick. She let him know, and the people he was trying to dupe.

mo.stoneskin said...

Damn you got me, but you'll admit it was very cunning and I was smartly attired?

Actually similar thing happened to my wife. Guy was asking for money so he could visit his brother in hospital. She wouldn't give money, but kindly bought him a train ticket. The following day she saw the bastard playing the same trick. She let him know, and the people he was trying to dupe.

a corgi said...

I think we learn to spot the fakes out there and the genuine people who are down on their luck and pan-handling to get something to eat. I've learned there's a certain look in their eyes, defeat versus defiance. betting that guy's eyes were a bit defiant.....

betty

Anonymous said...

u didn't buy the dog a chebuga? cheapo

Betty said...

They always say, the ones that have the longest most exuberant story's, are usually lies.

Greyscale Territory said...

That is quite creepy! And very sad that there are those who give people really in need a suspicious cloud around them!

Rena said...

The $13 bucks would be better spent on the dog than the liar.

(But "I told ya so's" are always worth it!)

Tina said...

My 4 favorite words. I.told.you.so.

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

The "I told you so" is a hard thing to miss out on! Poor you. :(

Those people are sneaky. I once gave $5 to a guy who said his wife was having a baby and his car broke down and he needed bus $ to get to the hospital. Sucker. There were plenty of I-told-you-sos from my family a week later when the guy's wife was still having a baby and he still hadn't made it to the hospital (apparently) because he asked me for more money. He actually cussed me out when I said I already gave him money for that. Never again.

C. Beth said...

Oh, man, I've heard versions of that same story enough times that I just don't believe it now. But it's very sweet that Joe wanted to help him; I wish the guy HAD been telling the truth. Sad that people are getting taken advantage of in this way.