Because sometimes I’m right.

November 16, 2010

At times I can be hateful. Like the time we pulled up at a gas station, already running behind on a trip and cranky, to nearly take off the door of a lady who sat in her car with it wide open. As we passed by, I glared down at her and said to Sam, “Seriously, because no one else could ever need to get past her in this lane.”

After we pulled up at the pump, I heard a voice say, “Excuse me?” I didn’t look out because I was busy with Bella in the back and Sam was at the pump. “I’m so sorry, so sorry, um…” her voice trailed off. I saw it was the same woman in the car; filthy dirty and so thin with strangled hair. She nervously walked back to the pump and I heard her mumble, “Courage, courage.”

After a second she came back and said, “I am so sorry, but I have to ask, please, I have no money and I’m out of gas. I know I look homeless but I just work for Merry Maids. I came from a job, I need to get home to my son. Do you have just a few dollars I could borrow?”

I looked at Sam who nodded and said, “I’ll put $5 on your pump when I go inside, ok?” She smiled and thanked him. After he left, she called to me, “You give that husband of yours a big hug for me. How sweet. And that baby, what a gem. Treasure every moment with her, she’s beautiful. I’m so sorry I have to ask for this, how embarrassing.”

Feeling like a real pig at that point, I thanked her and told her everyone has those days, no worries at all.

Once we drove off I told Sam what she had said and how bad I felt for glaring at her and judging her before. I promised myself that next time, I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions.

About 2 months later, I was in the Target parking lot buckling Bella in her car seat. I thought I saw a flash behind the car, but when I looked out there was no one. Then I heard, “Excuse me?”

I looked up and a woman began talking, “Is that your little girl?”

“Yes…” I answered, trying to figure out if we knew each other.

Suddenly she disappeared behind my car, and I wondered if perhaps she realized she didn’t know me after all?

Then. I heard –

“Beautiful baby, treasure every moment. I’m so sorry, so sorry to bother you, I know I look homeless but I work for Merry Maids and my car is almost out of gas, not enough to get home. I just need a few dollars, I never do this, I’m so embarrassed, but my son is at home alone…”

FLOORED, I stared at her speechless for a moment. It was the same woman from the gas station. Obviously she didn’t remember me, and for a moment I pondered simply playing along. Instead, I turned to face her.

“Actually,” I said with a trace of anger, “I believe my husband helped you out of this same situation a few weeks ago.”

For a split second her eyes got huge, but without skipping a beat (she was amazing) she nodded, “Absolutely, I remember your baby and that sweet husband and how generous he was. That’s why I came right over, because I knew you had a kind heart and would help me out again.”

“I don’t have any money,” I stated flatly, which was the truth. I never carry cash. (Because I spend it immediately.)

“OH, NO!” she gasped, “I just need your address so that I can send you back the money from before. I always pay people back. What is your address?”

What? And keep in mind she had no pen and paper. Nor did I.

“Um, no,” I told her. “I’m good, we don’t want the money back.” I moved around her to get in the car.

“Oh, I need to! I always pay everyone back, I can pay you, I can just send it right to you and thank you so much for helping me before. I’d love to send you back a payment and this one too if you could just spare a few dollars…”

I shook my head, got in the car and drove off. I saw in my rear-view mirror her walk over to another woman getting out of her car. I felt really stupid, and slightly angry at us being conned, until I realized it didn’t matter. That was her life, it wasn’t personal.

It was then I thought – I might be judgmental, a little snobbish, and jump to conclusions too quickly.

But sometimes? I’m right.


  • Yoga Mama

    November 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I’m ALWAYS right. 🙂 lol

    Seriously, this had me rolling because I know the feeling. Where I live, it’s like once a day you get hit up for money because it’s a wealthy area. It’s frustrating but sad, because I want to help, but in offering assistance it’s mostly turned down. Just money is accepted.

  • Cindy @ This Adventure, Our Life

    November 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Sometimes intuition is just that, right?!

  • Not There Yet

    November 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    That happened to me once to – it was money for a bus ticket though…

  • Suzanne

    November 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    This is a pretty popular con in many areas – we have the guy in the Walmart parking lot, the guy down by the aquarium, the guy in the Ikea parking lot…all with the same “I’m out of gas” story and all hitting me up on more than one occasion. I think the cops chase them away on a fairly regular basis but they make me very very uncomfortable.

    There was a guy with a sign by McDonald’s once, who I bought an extra meal for and he thanked me. That felt really nice. But 99% of the time? Scammers who make me so so mad.

  • Kim

    November 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    wow. That’s just crazy. Imagine how many people she’s conned if she hit you up twice! That kid at Sarah’s party who asked to watch Family Guy? Well, when I first his mom I did not like her. Then on Sat, she seemed a bit nicer, so I was feeling guilty for being all judgey. Then he comes out with the Family Guy thing. Turns out my ‘judgey’ was just my ‘instinct.’ So go with it. You ARE righ. A Lot of times!

  • Erika @NaMammaSte

    November 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I’m really, really, REALLY bad about NEVER believing people. I ALWAYS condemn them immediately, and it pretty much doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouth.

    That being said, I really need to work on that because the bible is pretty clear about it not being our job to figure out what someone’s intention is; we should (should being the operative word) give generously to those in need and let God work it out.

    My only point is, you’re right, you shouldn’t feel stupid for believing her OR helping her… you are an AMAZINGLY caring and generous person! You are also right in that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for judging… I don’t think judgement (as in assessing the situation) alone is the problem so much as condemning (like I do when I don’t even look or listen).

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  • Law Momma

    November 17, 2010 at 9:02 am

    There was a guy begging on the road in Macon once. His sign said “Hungry and Homeless.” So I stopped at McDonald’s and bought him a Value meal with an extra double cheeseburger. When I stopped and gave it to him, he threw the bag back at me and asked me what the hell he was supposed to do with that.

    It was the last time I tried to do something nice. Thanks for making me jaded, evil folk.

  • Mrs. MidAtlantic

    November 17, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Wow, that is so super sketchy! I am speechless.

  • Kim

    November 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I agree with a previous commenter on being glad that your hubby put the money in for her gas. When shady people like this woman ask for money its more than likely for a drug deal or something just as bad. It’s sad that you can’t trust people.

  • themanager

    November 17, 2010 at 7:06 am

    that is really pathetic! i honestly always feel bad for people like that but i can’t do anything for them so it bothers me for days. last week i was in the grocery store line and the girl in front of me had a full cart. she swiped her card and the cashier said it wasn’t working. he asked her for another form of payment and she apologized and left with nothing.

    i felt so bad. i knew if i had the money i would have paid for her. why? because she looked so sad. after a few days of thinking about it i realized she could have just been someone with a stolen card and i probably shouldn’t still be thinking about it 3 days later!

    moral of my story, i think i better play it safe with grocery store/parking lot pity parties.

  • allison

    November 17, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Sigh…sorry this happened to you. Almost the same thing happened to me about a year ago. I believed her the first time. The second time I flashed from disbelief to anger and told her I worked nearby and if I saw her again I would call the cops. I was so mad at her for taking advantage of me! Now it just makes me sad to think about it. I guess I learned a lesson.

  • harmskills

    November 17, 2010 at 6:35 am

    ps it was also smart to put the $5 on the pump and not give her the cash. sometimes if is ee people begging on the subway i will offer them food from my bag. if they dont take it, they are just looking for some mulah and not food money

  • harmskills

    November 17, 2010 at 6:34 am

    you are too nice. i would have opened a can of ghetto on her ass right there in the Target Parking lot.

  • Jen

    November 17, 2010 at 2:09 am

    I’m too scared to even talk to strangers anymore. And I won’t even make eye contact with some people when I’m with my kids because I don’t want that to be an invitation for them to start talking to me. I have serious issues thinking the worst in everybody until they prove me otherwise, but it’s better safe than sorry. And I think I’ve seen too many shows about drug addicts who panhandle for more drugs. The sad thing?? She probably did have a kid back at home, and she’s using him as part of her con. And who seriously looks for gas money in a Target parking lot?? I’m just saying.

  • Cathy

    November 16, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    And what’s sad is there ARE people who actually need help out there, but people like this ruin it. I want to legitimately help, but nowadays u never know.

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