Show Me The Money

I guess people can still be duped.  Since working the graveyard shift I’ve had three incidents of people trying to con me out of money. 
 
The first time this happened I received a phone call from someone claiming to be a regular customer.  He volunteered for the fire department, he said, and bought gas here all the time.  Anyway, he proceeded to explain that he thought he’d lost his wallet, so had contacted his bank and credit card companies and cancelled all his cards.  Then he found his wallet again, but was unable to get any money until the next day, when he could contact his financial institutions.  Would it be possible, he wondered, if he borrowed five dollars, so he could buy some baby formula?  He promised he would return the money at his earliest opportunity. 
 
Uh . . .  No.  If he really volunteered for the fire dept., why not borrow $10 from one of your chums?  Or take it out of the gas money for the motorcycle you claim you’ll be riding when you come to the station.
 
Then, over the last couple days, I’ve had people actually come to the store in the middle of the night.  One man asked to buy a pack of cigarettes.  When I asked him to put the money required into the service window, he said, “Buddy, I’m not going to steal from you, okay?  So, hey, buddy, cigarettes first, okay?”  No, I replied, I need the payment first.  “No, buddy.  Cigarettes first.”  Well, this wasn’t going to go anywhere, I could tell, so I told him I couldn’t help him.
 
Last night, a guy parked his very nice pick-up on the lot, but far enough from my window so I couldn’t tell the make or read the license plates (I guess if I really wanted to I could have).  He then came to the service window and mournfully explained how the business he worked for was located back east, and he couldn’t get ahold of any of his managers in the middle of the night.  He was broke and needed twenty dollars so he could buy enough diesel to get him to a community which is one hour’s drive from where I live (the same city, coincidentally, where my daughter and ex-wife live).  Jesus H! I thought, but I politely explained that I wasn’t authorized to do this.  Okay, the guy replied, but could I, as a person (meaning someone who was decent, with a kind heart, and a total sucker) do it?  I reiterated to him that I couldn’t.  And he left.
 
Now, let’s face it.  As unlikely as it is, any of these situations may have been legitimate.  But I’ve been burned before by people claiming to need just a little help.  I consider myself a nice guy, who would help someone who is genuinely in need.  But I’m also tired of people thinking they can con me.  I’m jaded and frustrated at people trying to pass themselves off as helpless babes when there are so many people who really aren’t doing that well, and who could genuinely use a hand. 
 
All of us get up, put our pants on, and trundle into the day, whether we want to or not.  If I don’t pull us my own boot straps and take responsibility for looking after myself I can’t and shouldn’t expect anyone else to.  I’m one of the millions who has to scrimp and save each month to get by.  And these people think I can spare them the money to help with their problems, when they’re driving these nice trucks and motorcycles?  Give me a break. 

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Two days after posting this story I had another incident.  This time, a customer purchased a couple things for which he paid with a $10.00 bill.  As soon as I gave him his change, he tried an old trick, telling me that he'd paid with a twenty.  Well, I used an own old trick of my own, which was to keep his bill outside the cash drawer until he'd left.  I held up the $10.00 for him to see, at which point he retracted his claim, saying "Oh, I had a twenty, but I guess I spent it at another place."  Or something like that.  All I had to say was, "Yeah?  Yeah!  Now get down on your hands and knees, you snivelling worm, and LICK MY BOOTS CLEAN!!"

Sigh.  No, I didn't really do that.  Wish I had, though.  When something like this happens, the best thing, and what I want the most, is for the customer to just leave.

UnderEli UnderEli
46-50, M
2 Responses Jan 7, 2012

If I had a nickel for every time someone has used my generosity, or tried ti, I would have enough money to take a very comfy vacation at the least. People are so pathetic. Most of the ones that you speak of seem to think the world owes them something, I think they need to get off their lazy arse and take care of them selves like the rest of us...No one hands me money for nothing, and I would starve before I would ask a stranger unless it was indeed a life or death situation, and even then I would be ashamed..................Some people have no conscience.....

Yeah, I'd have to be really down on my luck before asking complete strangers for handouts. Thng is, I have lived through tougher financial straits than I am right now, and while I did receive some help from family, never needed alms from strangers. I see a lot of people every day who go to work because there's no other choice, so when con artists try their acts out, I end up feeling frustrated. Thank you for reading my story, and for adding your feedback.

Hmm. That's a tough one UE. In these hard times of relative poverty there will be a lot of examples of this type of thing happening every day and I've witnessed quite a few myself. It's not surprising that you've become jaded and suspicious of people. Personally, I do help if I can ... not that I have money to spare and am not in a position to be lady bountiful by any means! But if I can I will. I think that one of the "benefits" of recessionary times is that people do help each other. I can see that in your position on the graveyard shift you'd be a target for chancers ... and I understand your point of view ... plus you're not dealing with your own money here, but of the organisation for which you work which is a different situation. But I like to think that what comes around goes around and that it's important not to harden ourselves to people in genuine need.

Thank-you both for your replies. I do consider myself a nice guy, who will help someone on the street who looks like he could really use a hand. The situations I've described above requred a quick judgment call, that wasn't that hard to make. When people are driving nice vehicles, or claim to be a firefighter, they don't need to come to my gas station, and someone who is a total stranger, to ask for a bit of help. Would I freely hand out money or give a pack of cigarettes at no cost if I was the store manager? No. My being jaded is beside the point, really.

Oh no question about you being a nice guy UE ... and I understand your position as described in your story.