Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lesson learned: Be on guard!

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped at the grocery store after my shift at the library to pick up some popcorn because Abby gets rather agitated if she doesn't get her popcorn at least a couple nights each week. I got out of my car and was immediately approached by a young woman, probably in her early twenties. She said she was in a terrible situation: she was out of gas, and she lived in Boonville, which is twenty miles away, she was pregnant, sticking out her belly to make sure I realized that, and she'd already had a flat tire that day. She pointed to the spare tire on her van. Then she asked me if I could help her. I stood there staring at her with thoughts running through my head, like, "Well, times are bad and we should help those in need." And, "Oh, man, I don't really want to drive this woman to the gas station." Then, she asked if she could have a couple of dollars. I was relieved that she had a solution that easy for me! So, I opened my wallet and I had a twenty-, a one-, and a five-dollar bill in it, so I handed her the five. She looked very grateful when she took it and said thank you and ran back to the passenger seat of the van and hopped in, very un-pregnant-like. The split second I handed her the five dollars, I knew I'd been taken.

It was so obvious then! She had her damsel-in-distress spill very rehearsed and she talked so fast I didn't have time to put it all together, which is exactly what she was hoping for. Why didn't I say something, like, "Well, why don't we call the police and see if they can help you?" Or, "I'll go and get you some gas and bring it back,"????? That would have worked and she would have backed off. But no, I was a stupid, gullible, sucker - just what she was looking for.

I then walked into the store and watched her approach another woman, while the driver of her van, an older woman, puffed on a cigarette. I didn't see if the other victim gave her any money, because another woman in the store saw me watching through the glass doors and asked me if the young woman had approached me, too. The woman in the store said something like, "there's no way that girl is pregnant" and something else and I was furious at myself and really wanted to call the police, but by the time we'd finished our conversation, the van was gone. She probably didn't net more than twenty bucks in the time she was in the parking lot, but I'm sure she spent all day going to parking lots all over town.

This is Columbia, Missouri - people are friendly and helpful here! I haven't felt the need to be guarded, which is why these gypsies are here in the first place. When I'm in Memphis, or any other city, I'm always on guard and no one takes advantage of me. One day, Reece and I were in Memphis and we were leaving a restaurant and a really drugged-out-looking man started walking towards us. I told Reece to get in the car immediately, and then I told the bum to get away and I got in the car and drove off and we were fine. Reece was a little excited, and I'm glad he saw that he needed to be aware of such things, but nothing happened to us.

Thankfully, I learned a good lesson yesterday, and it only cost me five bucks. Sadly, I'm going to be suspicious of anyone who looks at me in a parking lot from now on, and I will avoid anyone who looks as if they might need my help.

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