Friday, June 3, 2011

Is it a con or not?

I think it's fairly safe to say that at some point or other, everyone has been approached by a person in need on the street.

Common cons include needing money to pay the parking lot attendant and thereby get their car out. Or emergency money for gas because they've been robbed or are stuck out of town. Or they've been locked out of their office and need to rush to the hospital by cab to see their wife in labour.

The list goes on. I think I'm hit by these more often because I have some sort of "look" which says I'm a sucker for a sad story. It never fails -- the (supposedly) needy person will pass by several people but for whatever reason single me out.

Anyway, it happened again last night, on my way to the skytrain at Metrotown. This sort-of-elderly woman comes up and explains that she's been mugged today and lost all her money and cards. She even pulled out her purse to show me how empty it was. Tonight, she needed to go to the 24-hour Shoppers Drug Mart to get a prescription (she showed me a prescription in her bag). Could I help her?

I felt really conflicted. Some part of me thought the story was genuine, but another part couldn't trust myself any more, after all the cons in the past. Also, I was fairly sure that the Shoppers Drug Mart, even if it were 24 hours, wouldn't have the pharmacy open at this time. But I hadn't been there recently and didn't know for sure.
When I brought that up, the woman gave it up and said nevermind, and walked off.

I suppose she could have been telling the truth. And even if the pharmacy weren't open, she might have simply been mistaken on that point.

It's a sad case of too many bad apples spoiling the barrel.
And maybe there are just a couple of good apples left in the barrel, but no one's going to dig through the bad ones to get them out.

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