Skip to comments.Kindness Overcame Suspicion ... I Think (An Act of Charity-- Scammed?)
Posted on 04/10/2007 12:47:27 PM PDT by Mark
I ... am not a pushover.
I was raised in Downeast Maine at a time when suspicion and an exaggerated sense of privacy mingled to produce a people who are skeptics.
I am not an easy mark, a patsy ... I think.
He came up behind me as I was standing in the doorway of my car outside Starbucks, putting the two cups of coffee into the cup holders.
My back was to him when I heard his first words: "Don't be alarmed." That, by itself, was alarming.
He was a small man, thin, middle-age, wearing blue jeans too big for him, a pullover and, despite the warmth of the day, a windbreaker. And he looked scared, and embarrassed.
He said his mother had told him to go find someone with a kind face who might help a stranger. Now, I figured, this is a liar. I am not a man panhandlers approach. I do not look like a container of the milk of human kindness.
"Don't be afraid," he said in a gentle but agitated voice. "I have AIDS. I am a homosexual and I have AIDS, but you don't have to be afraid of me. You can't catch it by just talking with me."
"I was home alone," he said. "And I started bleeding. I do have AIDS." He pulled the neck of his shirt down to one side, baring his shoulder. There was a mean-looking rash disappearing over this shoulder and down his back.
He made a sort of half-sob and said, "I started bleeding rectally again and I'm afraid I'll bleed out. My mother said soak a towel in saline solution and tuck it down into my pants and go out quickly and find someone to help you."
He started to pull down his pants to show me the towel. I stopped him quickly.
He said if I would print my name and phone number on his envelope, his mother would call me immediately and pay me back. She was on her way to help him now but she was in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 5 Freeway.
He pulled out a prescription and said it was for a suppository that would stop the bleeding. I looked at the prescription. It even had a price on it - $36.40. So ... there we were.
I didn't even know his name. He was a small, thin, cleanly dressed homosexual with AIDS who was also African-American and bleeding rectally in a Latino part of the Valley.
"So you need $37," I said.
We looked at each other. He blinked a few times. As I pulled out my wallet, I suddenly was aware of traffic on Victory Boulevard, as if all the cars had stopped while I thought.
Now that I had made a commitment, I felt I was invested in his welfare and I should see it through. I offered him a ride to the pharmacy. Now as I opened the car door to let him in, I suddenly realized that a small, thin man - who was bleeding rectally - was about to sit down on the front seat of my almost-brand-new Prius.
But there was a newspaper on the back seat and I shifted it to the front seat. He told me I needn't worry, the towel in the seat of his pants would protect my car. I said I'd rather be sure.
I dropped him off at the apartment of a friend of his who was in his AIDS support group.
He had thanked me all the drive over, and I was glad to have him out of the car because even former Downeast men are embarrassed by overt gratitude.
Then I began thinking. What if this was an elaborate scam? How many prescriptions have you seen with the cost written on them? Why did he have me drop him off at his friend's apartment rather than take him to the pharmacy?
I had the same thoughts in the quiet moment between his nodding and my reaching for my wallet. Then I thought, if you knew absolutely that he was telling the truth, would you give him $40? Yes.
And except for asking him to pull down his pants and checking the towel, there was no way to know absolutely. And I wasn't going to do that. He had had enough indignities.
So he got the $40 and a ride and I got my doubts - his mother hasn't called yet - but we both came away with our self-respect ... I think.
Michael Tetreault is the Daily News letters editor and sometimes-writer. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prius--at Starbucks--man with a kind face. Interesting.
You can stop right there, fella. I don't want to interfere with God's Wrath.
If what I just wrote made you sad or angry,
it was probably just a joke.
He was a small, thin, cleanly dressed homosexual with AIDS who was also African-American and bleeding rectally in a Latino part of the Valley.
lots of info...........................
” Prius—at Starbucks—man with a kind face. Interesting.”
It is interesting, especially the Prius part...it was also an opportunity for a blessing, or so I was taught growing up. Whether it was a scam or not is neither here nor there.
Great way of holding someone up without carrying a weapon..actually..it’s brilliant.
I’m trying to think what kind of suppository would stop anal bleeding.
If I am going to “bleed out”, I want to go to the ER.
Well, maybe not, but don’t you want to imitate your Father Who is in Heaven, who makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust alike?
St. John of Kronstadt commended giving charity without asking or caring whether the story the mendicant tells is true, without convern for whether the one asking is ‘worthy’ or ‘truely needy’, precisely because in so doing one makes oneself a Son of the Father who gives in mercy without regard for the condition of the one receiving.
Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Instead of calling 911 in the face of a potential “bleed out”, his mother told him to put a towel on it and go beg for help from strangers? and in need of a pharmacy and hospital, he goes to Starbucks and a friend’s apartment?
As you observe: venue that attracts soft-hearted people with money + heartstring-jerking presentation = a fool and his money are soon parted.
“He soon became a specialist, specializing in diseases of the rich.” - Tom Lehrer
On a trip I once happened across a guy pulling the “my car ran out of gas” scam on a city streetcorner.
Six years later I came across him doing the same thing on the same block.
Been had lately??????
“Im trying to think what kind of suppository would stop anal bleeding.”
Several times. Men in fatigues holding sign: "Homeless Veteran"- It happens. But maybe even one was telling the truth.
What the guy really needed is some one to speak the truth to him............not encourage his current way of life. Jesus spoke a lot of hard sayings and most left (and leave now) when the free lunches were over.
Sorry, just giving people things to feel good is a liberal trait.
I desperately need $1000 for my son's medical bills, or he will die, tomorrow.
Don't ask questions, just give up the cash.
Any amount will help, but you should give as much as you can afford. Give till it hurts, God wants you to.
FReep mail me for the address to sent the check to.
I'll be waiting for the check.
We are also commanded to test spirits, and to be “shrewd as snakes”. A snake pretending to be a dove acts in a spirit of deception, and we should not get involved blindly.
Sometimes one indeed cannot tell; give freely then.
Often a little testing reveals evil quickly ... like offering what the alleged needy REALLY needs.
Bleeding? I’ll drive you to the hospital.
Need medicine? I’ll pay the pharmicist.
Out of gas? show me the car and I’ll fill my spare gas can.
Hungry? let’s go to Burger King and I’ll buy.
NEVER just give them cash. If they’re truly needy, that’s not what they need.
Did you just give money blindly? or did you take him to dinner and pay for a hotel or drive to a shelter?
Handing over cash is a feel-good fix to an alleged problem in a luxurious society.
The Good Samaritan didn’t just drop a moneybag next to the victim. He treated wounds, transported him to an inn, and payed for a few day’s stay; as far as the tale went, the needy man never actually got cash in hand.
Whenever I bleed rectally,I hope its NOT in the Latino part of The Valley.
I definitely don’t bear the look of one filled with the milk of human kindness when out and about, so rarely get approached.
The one time I fell for a sob story, it was a guy who presented himself as a traveler who needed gas money to continue on. I suppose I also felt a sense of security as it was daytime and I was already in my small town after leaving work 30 miles away.
After he walked away a few dollars richer, I entered an eatery where 2 local ladies who’d watched the drama educated me on that man’s notoriety for scamming the foolish and kind-hearted.
I don’t mind helping another female stranded at the side of the road, if it’s as minor as staying parked on the shoulder ahead until her husband or a LEO pulls over, so she isn’t vulnerable to predators. But no strangers in my car or home. I hand them a cordless phone through a window and don’t bother shushing the dogs. They’re welcome to assume the boxer mix is a pitbull.
Denial ain't a river in Egypt.
Don’t feel bad. Although it may well be a scam, this is the governing directive for this case:
“To him that asks of thee give, and from him that desires to borrow of thee turn not away.”
Would you wish to trade places with him, even if it is a scam?
Go in peace.
You took the words out of my mouth.God wants ME to do the right thing.What others do is what THEY will have to justify to God.
Last month I gave a dollar to a disheveled looking man in downtown Oakland.A friend of mine chastized me for giving anything to”that bum”.What she didn’t understand is that whatever he did with the money is on him,its no longer on me.
Name + phone number + Internet search = [use your imagination]
This was not a spirit, but a human being, for whom Christ died. Applied to our fellow men, Christ said ‘Judge not that ye be not judged. The judgement with which ye judge is the judgement with which ye will be judged.’
Test the spirits indeed: the spirit that moves one imitate Christ and the Father, is the Spirit. The spirit that moves you to imitate the priest and the levite in the parable of the good Samaritan is not.
We Orthodox commemorate as a saint, a nameless saint called only ‘the Uncondemning Monk’ whose sanctity was shown not in great works of asceticism—he was negligent—or obedience—he was not particularly obedient—but only in that he had never in his life condemned another.
I believe that sometimes God sends us people who we are supposed to help. We will be evaluated on how/whether or not we help.
If the gentleman was not an obvious drug addict/alcoholic, I say help him.
I probably would have done the same thing the Pious driver did.
Except drive the Pious ;-).
Discern what the needy need, and give that.
There is no “judging” therein ... yet truth may be revealed.
If one needs food, give food.
If one needs gas, give gas.
If one needs treatment, give treatment.
If you cannot give what is needed, you can most likely arrange for it.
This human being acts in motivation of a spirit (however you wish to define “spirit”).
Christ often offered what the allegedly needy allegedly needed - only to see them choose to leave empty-handed.
I will not facilitate another’s evil by blindly & ignorantly giving them the means to further their evil.
There is a difference between discerning and judging.
Judging is evaluating why the need exists, done to punish unwise choices.
Discerning is evaluating what the need is, done to facilitate efficient resolution of the problem.
Discern the need, and fulfill it.
Discerning the need, in this thread’s context, usually reveals there is no need - so the issue is then resolved. This is good, not bad; this helps the person, not hurts.
Cash is rarely the need; cash is usually the means to perpetuate evil.
Only in rare cases can the need not be discerned. You will know the right thing to do, even if you cannot articulate it.
Blindly giving is too often not truly to give aid, but to assuage one’s own guilt induced by a greedy con. This is not wisdom, this is not charity, this is facilitating evil by paying ransom.
All kinds of strange things happen. Poor people, especially, don’t always do things in ways that seem rational to us.
It sounds to me like the situation was real, and the author of this did the right thing.
I would have been walking away as soon as he mentioned rectal bleeding. There’s something about it that makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m afraid that this guy was scammed by a lowlife with no morals or decency. It’s acts like this that make strangers more defensive and less likely to help a person out.
You would drive a possibly terminally bleeding man not to the hospital?
You would drive a man in dire need of medicine not to the pharmacy?
You would, instead, give him cash & your name & your phone number, and drive him to someone’s apartment?
I’m all for helping the needy. I’ve done plenty of driving strangers around, giving food & water, fixing cars, rendered emergency aid, etc. ... even gave cash where discerned appropriate. But I’m also aware that the majority of pleading strangers are lying thru their teeth, and have learned the hard way to give what is needed - not what is asked, especially when it all adds up to blatant lies.
Then be rational for them, lest the blind lead the blind ... or you be led into a pit.
It sounds to me like the situation was real,
So did the guy "needing gas" I referenced. After years of practice, he had that act down pat.
and the author of this did the right thing.
The guy needed medicine and a hospital. He had a prescription and was bleeding. So ... why take him somewhere other than the obvious? just because he said to?
As a former junkie, I can assure you that this man was scammed.
But if one needs rectal suppositories, DO NOT give money, or you will actually be giving the person crack cocaine.
I get approached almost weekly in the parking lot where I work. I don’t even let them get the first word out. I’ve heard too many stories. “Out of gas...I need $5 more for an alternator...baby diapers...hamburger” whatever. There’s either a liberal program, a church, or a soup kitchen if they’re in need. Laz is right. Money goes straight to drugs or booze.
I have also learned the hard way about how to give and not give.
The point of my original post was about helping the man.
Take him to the drug store and pay for his prescription. If there is no prescription, well, then you know the truth.
That is my way of helping ..... no cash. Food is fine, need a cop or an ambulance, I’ll call one, etc.
Rationalizing away your contibution to a mans drug habit. That’s good.
I've seen people bleed from a lot of places but never from the Latino part....
“Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” Our Father would also have us “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” For really, is enabling someone’s habits really what the Lord would have us do? Rewarding theft? Rewarding lying? Rewarding thinking like a victim instead of taking self-responsibility to provide for himself? Or would He have us say, “Gold and silver I do not have, but in the name of Jesus ....”
We just keep getting more conservatives (ie, liberals who have been mugged).
It is dependent upon the hapless who "feel" rather than making informed decision ... that after all is the definition of a lib/dem