Yesterday as I was walking home from work I was approached by a man with a paper cup in his hand saying “excuse me, I’ve left my little niece in the McDonald’s on 14th and I have to buy her food because her mother is at work but I don’t have any money can you help me she’s really hungry and I have to get her some food and I can’t leave her alone much longer”. Yes, it really was all one long rapidly fired sentence.
The guy was about a mile from the McDonald’s but at least we were walking in the right direction, and who would leave a “little niece” on her own and wander so far from where you’re going to spend the money? But, whatever, while I was dithering over a response thinking that his story was crap and he should just ask me for money, he fell into line with me and said “well, I’m going to tell you some jokes” and proceeded to tell lame ones like “what did the fish say when it swam into a wall? Dam! You get it? he was in a dam”. “What do you call a deer with no eye? No ideer” and a couple more that I don’t remember before finishing up with his pièce de résistance: “what’s the best nation in the world”? Donation. Can you give me one – my little niece is really starving”.
I did dig around and find some change for him but I felt conned even though I wasn’t being conned because I knew he was playing me – though I suppose I was conned because I did give him money. But, I was really, really annoyed that once he had the money, he turned around and walked in the opposite direction of the McDonald’s!
The other week a guy gave me a tulip for my dollar. Admittedly, it probably wasn’t his to “sell”, (it had half a dirt-covered bulb still attached) but his schtick was smoother – “a flower for a flower” type of thing – and it didn’t make me feel conned or annoyed; it brought a smile to my face.