Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tired Tuesday and Con Men

Yesterday Thomas did his two subjects in school: Three pages of math (with balking) and Nonfiction Reading. Today, he did the same.

Yesterday I was feeling daring and brave. I had things to do. I broke my rule about going out in public during school hours.

I don't know why I have that rule. I feel very uncomfortable in our town out and about while all the other kids are in school. Yesterday it was delightful. We did Christmas shopping and went to lunch. (Don't tell Bob!) We shopped til we dropped. I was so tired by the time we got home, that we ordered Pizza Hut. Yum.

Today? We did it again. Today's plans were to finalize shopping and then come home and start baking. Well, that didn't work out. We finished shopping, I ran Thomas to his art class, and I came home. I held Apollo and petted Jerry at the same time. In a blink of an eye it was time to go get Thomas again, and we also stopped at the grocery store. I had nothing for dinner. I bought hamburger so Bob could cook up some burgers because, wah, I was tired.

My mom could shop all day and into the night with an indefatigable spirit. Me? I'm exhausted after two stores. Christmas season has us darting to every store there is, and walking on all those hard surfaces hurts my back and feet and legs. I wish I had my mom's energy for shopping. I've never been much of a shopper.

When our Wal-mart opened, I noticed a lot of people with backpacks begging right next to it. That was something we didn't see in our little town. Today, right down the road from Wal-mart, I had just got out of my car to gas up. A man in a white car, which I had noticed when I pulled in, approached me. He started telling me a sob story about how he was stranded here with no money, a job promise that fell through, and he and his wife had slept in their car for five days straight. He told me numerous times he was a Christian. I stood there staring at him, not saying a word, because I couldn't have got a word in edgewise. He told me he was from Kentucky.

He then showed me a 20- and 5-dollar bill. He said some kind lady gave him this cash, and could I please--Frankie interrupts. Nope, I don't have any cash, sorry. There is a Salvation Army at the corner of Main and North Street. He bumbled a sarcastic thanks, and drove to the next unsuspecting victim. I forced Thomas to come into the store with me, told the clerk there was a panhandler out there with Missouri licence plates (not Kentucky) and we were trying to get the license plate when he noticed and sped off.

There were four other customers in the store and the all said he had hit them up for money.

I'm not in the spirit, am I?

In the first place, if I were to bestow charity upon someone in need, I couldn't care less if he were a Christian, a Martian or whatever. Why should that matter? I don't get that. Why do people play the Christian card? Perhaps because the fundamentalist movement is so strong. Instead of making me sympathetic, it really turned me off and fast.

In the second place, he was a con artist. I sat in a courtroom for 11 years, I've seen criminals on every single level and lots of them. I had him pegged in 10 seconds flat.

What a discussion Thomas and I had. See, Thomas felt really sorry for him -- at first. As he has every single backpack-wielding, sign-holding beggar we've seen near the new Wal-mart.

We discussed need, charity and con men. Thomas couldn't understand why we were trying to get his license plate. Thomas also couldn't understand why he drove off after I mentioned where the Salvation Army was.

I hate bursting the trusting bubble of a child. Yet, I want him to be wise to the world.

Ho Ho Ho

Maybe tomorrow we'll get to our baking -- after we run more errands and take Apollo for his first vet visit. I'm ready for a day at home.


Gerkin Pickle said...

I am so glad I am not the only one who hasn't gotten the baking done.

Kudos to you for explaining to Thomas about the man. One of the funniest things I ever saw with the back pack weilding guys here is the time I saw the guy sitting on his back pack on one corner holding a sign that said, "Will Work for food." On the corner across the street was a Wendy's sign that said, "Help Wanted". Wish I woulda had my camera with me...I coulda sent it in to one of the late night shows...LOL.

The sad truth is, Some people want to help themselves and some people want a hand out. It is something every one has to learn.


Hillary said...

I think people play the "Christian card" because they hope it will make the other person think they are an honest person in a bad position, and not simply a con artist out to scam you.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I remember a panhandler who dressed as a businessman. He'd hang out near bus stops and ask people for bus fare. ("I've got to be at work in 30 minutes, and I've left my pass at home. Can I borrow 85 cents?")

People were a lot more willing to give a guy bus fare than to give a guy just sitting around some money.


Frankie said...

Hillary, I know that's why they play that card, BUT...people of other faiths, or lack of faith, can still be honest. And are.
Lots of them.

To me, it's the "I'm better than anyone who is not a Christian" or "Help me because I am a fellow Christian, your brother or sister."

See, I consider all humans brothers or sisters, in the greater sense.

And a true Christian (which I consider myself) won't base on faith, they base on humanity. A Christian gives in times of need, be it money, help, time, etc.

So it annoys me.

I was just reading someone's blog, I forget who, and it stated that about 70% of Americans are Christian.

Now of that 70%, how many are honest? I don't think it's 70% or even close to that. But of the other 30% of Americans, how many of them are honest? I don't think we can base honesty and integrity on our faith. You either are or you aren't.

I don't mean to be argumentative, I'm just trying to explain why it bugs me.

audrey said...

The scam has nothing to do with Christianity. The con man just used his knowledge of the area he was in and perhaps the look of the person he was approaching and used whatever keyword he thought would trigger the response he wanted. He used "I'm a Christian" to guilt you into giving him money. I'll bet he was Jewish at Hannukah, too. ;-)

samuel said...

I tagged you for a meme Frankie. Want to play? Come see me for the rules. I'm sure yours will be prettier than mine.

Kate in NJ said...

It's a hard lesson to learn.
I also get ticked by the "I'm a Christian thing".
My Grandfather used to tell me,
"you can see what people are by what they do, not what they tell you."
My Mom was a "hard luck story magnet"
never met anyone she wouldn't help..
the "users" made me a bit more ..cautious in life.