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Conwoman or a true sob story?

November 10, 2008

Yesterday, for the most part, was a great day. Hubby and 3 of our kids went out shopping and later ate supper out at a nice restaurant. However, there was about a 20 minute time span in the middle of the afternoon, that sorta creeped me out.

We decided to stop at Chapters so the kids could check out some books and 2 of the kids went in, while hubby and youngest son were looking in the SUV for something. I had bought a new handbag (yay me!) and was switching my stuff out of my old purse into my new purse – I had the vehicle door open, standing outside, sort of bent over, with my handbags on the front seat. I stood up straight and when I did, saw someone out of the corner of my eye – it was a woman. She immediately apologized to me, said she didn’t mean to startle me and apologized again, this time for bothering me. I thought for sure she was going to ask me for directions or if there was a certain store around the area, but no, it was worse than that.

She was a really hard-looking woman – I’d have put her at late 60s or even early 70s – very frail, thin, super wrinkled and uh, ‘shabby’ looking. She introduced herself with a first name, which, seriously, I don’t even remember (she was so long winded that it left my mind). She was holding a bank debit card and a piece of paper. Then the dialogue began. Here is our conversation:

Woman: I hate to bother you and I’m really embarrassed to be even asking, and I’m only asking women – actually, you’re the first person I’ve asked. This is really hard for me – but I feel like I have no other choice. (My husband is in the SUV with my son – aware that there is a woman talking to me, but not really hearing all of the conversation).

Me: Okay – uh, what is it you want to ask me?

Woman: Listen, I assure you that I’m not a *says in a hushed whisper* hooker, or I don’t want to buy booze *my spidey senses flared up*, but I really need to ask a favor. I can assure you at 57 (wow, she’s only 57????!) years old, that I never thought I’d be in this position but * she hesitates – for dramatic effect?* my husband died a few months ago and I’ve found myself in this situation.

Me: Uh, okay.

Woman: Oh dear, I know it sounds far-fetched but I swear to you, I’m serious and it’s really hard asking people this. I’m from Vancouver originally, a bush girl, and I miss it, but I came here to Calgary, hoping to make a fresh start, knowing it’s a big city with money to be made. I have a job *shows me the paper she was holding* with “so and so” and he’s giving me a job in Canmore (about 90 mins from here), painting at $29.50/hr and I have to start the job on Monday. So *she pulls out a $5 bill from her shirt pocket* I’ve got $5 to put towards a bus ticket – I called earlier today and to take a bus from here to Canmore is just over $30, so since I’ve got five bucks, I just need another $25. Now, I’m not asking you for $25 but anything you could give me would be great and so appreciated. Oh, gosh…I just….this is so embarrassing, and I feel so bad to be even asking but I really want to get to my new job on Monday so I can get situated. My new boss said he’d even reimburse my travel expenses.

Okay, so at this point, I’m torn – my heart is saying, oh give the old broad five dollars, because her speech was good. But then, my head was saying, well her speech was good – too good. Rehearsed, like it was the 100th time she’d done it or she’d practiced in front of the mirror all morning. And seriously, if her ‘employer’ was willing to reimburse her travel expenses, why wouldn’t he just buy her a bus ticket so she could start her new job? Now I’m sorta pissed. This woman, who, because she has a bank card in one hand and piece of paper in the other with ‘job details’, wants me to hand over my money that I work hard for? How is that fair? Plus, my gut instinct was screaming at me to tell this woman to take a hike and hit someone else up.

I turn to look at hubby, who is looking back at me – he’s obviously heard the gist of the conversation afterall and he just shrugs his shoulders, like, come on, you know better.

Woman: Oh, I’m so sorry – I didn’t realize your husband was in the car and I know you’re with your family and I feel bad for bothering you, but I really need to get to my new job on Monday *again shows me her bank card – like what does that prove?* and every little bit helps.

I take a moment to just look at her. She said earlier that she didn’t drink but really, she was so worn out, so aged beyond her 57 years, that I could not believe that she wasn’t an alcoholic or a drug addict. She was rough – I mean, I’ve not seen a woman look like she lives that hard in – well forever. I know it, I know in my gut that she’s a con and while the sweet part of me wanted to give her money, I knew she’d take that money and piss it away on booze or drugs, that there was no $29.50/hr job waiting for her on Monday and I just couldn’t bring myself to give her money.

Woman: Well, can you help me out? Again, I’m so sorry for bothering you or scaring you.

Me: I’m really sorry, but I am going to decline, I just don’t feel comfortable.

Woman: Okay, no problem and again, sorry for bothering you.

And with that, she walked away, scanning the parking lot for the next woman she could approach.

Was I mean for not giving her money? I still feel bad and sort of guilty but I always (well 99% of the time) follow my gut and my gut was telling me that my money would go to nothing good. When I told my son about it later, he said that, that is one of the oldest lines in the book around this city – people bumming money for a ‘bus ticket to a new job’ or ‘needing money for gas for my car to get to my new job.’ Plus, her whole schpeal was waaaay too long and way too practiced.

On a fun note, I got a pre-lit Christmas tree (can you say lazy?) for a super price. I’ll talk more about that later (because a whole blog post dedicated to my pre-lit tree will be a scream).

Posted by Sassy @ 9:57 pmI want to Punch You in the Neck,Just Stuff.10 comments  

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10 Responses to “Conwoman or a true sob story?”

  1. I too struggle with situations like this. I one time had a man tell me a story similar to this. He needed $20 to get to the next town for a job blah blah blah. I told him I would not give him the money but instead would meet him at the bus station in two hours and purchase said ticket for him. I went he didn’t. It was too much trouble for him. I also don’t contribute money to panhandlers but will give them food. I am way to soft and even if they cash out what I give them in exchange for drugs or food I can’t help myself.

  2. Oh yes – had her story been “money for food” I’d have bought her food (when that would be a line too, but she can’t take back the fries for drugs or booze) but she just wanted cash, so I couldn’t do it. Part of me, did feel bad but I knew better, and hubby and son said, oh yes, she was a con. For sure!

  3. Yes, I’d say that was a con. If she didn’t have the $ her employer could have given it to her. Even if he didn’t reimburse, could have just taken it out of her paycheck. I have a feeling the bank card was to make her appear like she was more “upstanding” and not con-like. Sorta like “see..I have a checking acct. I am a regular gal like you”.

    I probably would have given her the money though, just for the fact that I get anxiety in uncomfortable situations and would’ve probably had a panic attack if I tried to say no. I’m weird like that though!! :)

  4. You TOTALLY did the right thing. We always want to believe the stories other people tell us because we ourselves do not lie to people. They are just preying on the kind and innocent people who believe them. I am glad you were not mugged or something!! Show us your tree! I have one like that and LOVE IT TO DEATH!

  5. I’d say it was a con, and when they give me some schpiel, it just tends to piss me off, like they think I’m stupid. If it’s just some bum, who is obviously a bum, and they just hold a sign that says “Need money”, I’d rather give it to him. I know, and they know that I know, that they’re just going to buy booze with it.

  6. there are loads of people like that in my town center, i just buy them food :P

  7. There are a number of guys that will stand on the curbs at the intersection by our malls with various signs pleading their cases. They don’t actively solicit by knocking on windows or trying to wash windshields, but they always look so damned sad and down-trodden that I almost always pull out my wallet.

    Almost every time, The Man-Thing will stop me.

    He does the same thing with people asking point-blank for money — he’ll offer to buy them a meal. 99.9% of the time, they turn him down.

    I don’t know how to feel or what to think. Mostly I just feel guilty for some reason.

  8. i’v heard that story before! glad yo got rid of the old broad…lol!
    woohoo on the new purse! i got one too…lol!!!

  9. My 24 year old brother (homeless, drug user) has been begging people for money for years. It seriously makes me angry because he makes more money than me by asking for handouts on the corner. While my husband and I are working our butts off at regular jobs. I really have no compassion for these type of people thanks to him.

  10. I would have a hard time saying no to anyone! lol but I am to open hearted! But good for you becuz it probably was a scam and she probably is well taken care of :)

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