Scams...panhandling scams...let's discuss:
I was at the farmer's market and this woman tried to scam me: with the 'ol "I just need 75 cents for the train" while holding one dollar bill. The prop is nice....but really.... that will not make it more believable to me.
First of all: I feel bad for people in these desperate situations. I think for one half second maybe they are telling the truth. What would I do? You know what I would do??? Start walking. I mean really...you are going to beg for 3 hours on your feet or you could just walk to your destination. The CTA is not getting you that far. You certainly aren't getting on an airplane in your current state of mess.
So - it is some kind of desperation or simple scamming that makes people do this. It is sad and awful, blah blah blah....however - I will not give my money to a liar. Well - it is my policy not to give money to any homeless person* or any person on the street unless they are preforming a service to me: like playing an instrument and enhancing the enjoyableness of my stroll.
When will this little scam end? I did not just move here. I am aware you are a liar.
I said no to her.
I went about my business in the market. She approaches me again.
I informed her that she already tried to scam me and the answer was still no. I am a fearless mouthy b!tch with the panhandlers.
This is one thing. But now - summer is nearly here so we will soon have the f-ing child exploiters out.
Oh you know it - if you live in Chicago:
"Will you buy some candy, my baseball team is buying new uniforms"
I have come to answer with "There is no baseball team"
I will probably be shot dead one day...lord knows with the statistics in this "guns are illegal" city - it is the scamming kids from the ghetto that have them.
I wasn't bothered the first few times I was faced with this. It was typically 12 - 15 year olds. I knew the were big fat liars - but they had an entrepreneurial spirit that I SUPPOSE - I could appreciate. At least they were not robbing people. I bought their products on several occasions - but always with disapproving eyes.
Then - I was told by a policeman friend that this is what happens:
Some a-hole buys a bunch of candy at Costco and then rounds these kids up in the ghetto and drives them to various locations to sell the goods. Then picks them up later for the spoils.
So....he is the pimp and they are the prostitutes. To put it simply. I am sure this guy is ripping them off.
Then - I saw a turn late last fall. I saw twice in my neighborhood a man with a five year old doing it.
Of course, I did my normal routine: "There is no basketball team" is what I said.
The man is exploiting his young child.
I don't care what your desperate measure is...you are exploiting your child.
So this season...I have my plan:
1. Person with young child: I am calling the police. You know how I love being a crime stopper. Be it illegal garbage disposal or higher crimes. First of all, they have no permit. Second - there will be no exploiting of small children under my watch.
2. Tween to teen: I will make them admit that there is no team. Then I will suggest they do two things:
a. Actually join some kind of team - and actually sell candy for it.
b. Cut out the middle man. The profit will be larger if they don't have this pimp. And perhaps add a bit of honesty into it. I will in fact buy a package of king size peanut M&Ms from some young kid trying to make a dime rather than a liar. However - keep the 'ol team uniform routine up when you are in high tourist area...that might be a good routine. I shall train them in reading the local from the tourist.
Either way - I'll probably be killed by September.
*I was on the red line on a Saturday afternoon. I hate the red line - it is dirty and smells of piss. So I was on a train car with 2 other women and a large scary man. Suddenly he stood up and said: "Ladies I was just released from prison" WHAT THE F??? Not a good icebreaker, my friend. Then he held up this document with his mug shot on it. I thought I was about to meet my maker. He went on to say that he was trying to make a new start, blah blah blah and need a few bucks. There is a 99% chance this was a scam. But then I thought about it through several stops - maybe it isn't and he really is trying to turn his life around. So I gave him $2. The $2 seemed worth it if he really was and he was being honest. FINE - he probably wasn't. But I slept that night...I would have been pondering it all night if I had not.
*as a note: Once....I was saw a girl begging on a train. She looked familiar to me. Then I figured it out. She wasn't MY friend in high school...but a friend of a friend. I went to a R.E.M. concert with her. I hung out with her several times. She was a drug addict so I was not completely surprised - but still - SHOCKING.