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Kindness Overcame Suspicion ... I Think (An Act of Charity-- Scammed?)
Los Angeles Daily News ^ | 4/7/2007 | MICHAEL TETREAULT, Guest Columnist

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.

He nodded.

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 mike.tetreault@dailynews.com.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Philosophy; US: California
KEYWORDS: charity; con; kindness; scam
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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?

Prius--at Starbucks--man with a kind face. Interesting.

1 posted on 04/10/2007 12:47:31 PM PDT by Mark
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To: Mark; Jersey Republican Biker Chick
"I have AIDS. I am a homosexual and I have AIDS-"

You can stop right there, fella.  I don't want to interfere with God's Wrath.

Owl_Eagle

If what I just wrote made you sad or angry,
it was probably just a joke.

2 posted on 04/10/2007 12:51:41 PM PDT by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: Owl_Eagle

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...........................


3 posted on 04/10/2007 12:55:06 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( Seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: Mark

” 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.


4 posted on 04/10/2007 12:55:47 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Owl_Eagle

Great way of holding someone up without carrying a weapon..actually..it’s brilliant.


5 posted on 04/10/2007 12:56:46 PM PDT by Hildy ("man's reach exceeds his grasp"? It's a lie: man's grasp exceeds his nerve.)
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To: Mark

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.


6 posted on 04/10/2007 12:57:26 PM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: Owl_Eagle

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.


7 posted on 04/10/2007 12:59:50 PM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: Mark

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.


8 posted on 04/10/2007 1:03:32 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: Mark

Been had lately??????


9 posted on 04/10/2007 1:05:53 PM PDT by Jeffrey_D. (Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Benjamin Franklin)
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To: AppyPappy

“I’m trying to think what kind of suppository would stop anal bleeding.”

A manpon


10 posted on 04/10/2007 1:09:33 PM PDT by JZelle
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To: Jeffrey_D.
Been had lately??????

Several times. Men in fatigues holding sign: "Homeless Veteran"- It happens. But maybe even one was telling the truth.

11 posted on 04/10/2007 1:10:38 PM PDT by Mark (REMEMBER: Mean spirited, angry remarks against my postings won't feed even one hungry child.)
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To: The_Reader_David

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.


12 posted on 04/10/2007 1:11:29 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( Seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: The_Reader_David
I agree completely.

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.

13 posted on 04/10/2007 1:16:59 PM PDT by Jotmo (I Had a Bad Experience With the CIA and Now I'm Gonna Show You My Feminine Side - Swirling Eddies)
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To: The_Reader_David

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.


14 posted on 04/10/2007 1:17:05 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: Mark

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.


15 posted on 04/10/2007 1:20:30 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: PeterPrinciple

Whenever I bleed rectally,I hope its NOT in the Latino part of The Valley.
THATS painful!


16 posted on 04/10/2007 1:20:45 PM PDT by Riverman94610
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To: Mark

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.

Never again.

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.


17 posted on 04/10/2007 1:21:37 PM PDT by Titan Magroyne ("Y'know, I've always thought of politics as show business for ugly people." Jay Leno:Al Gore 11/29)
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To: Mark
I ... am not a pushover.

Denial ain't a river in Egypt.

18 posted on 04/10/2007 1:22:46 PM PDT by HitmanLV ("If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking until you do suck seed." - Jerry 'Curly' Howard)
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To: Mark

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.”
Matthew 5:42

Alternate view:
Would you wish to trade places with him, even if it is a scam?

Go in peace.


19 posted on 04/10/2007 1:23:00 PM PDT by NonLinear (This is something almost unknown within Washington. It's called leadership.)
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To: The_Reader_David

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.


20 posted on 04/10/2007 1:25:07 PM PDT by Riverman94610
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