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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
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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To: Mark
He said if I would print my name and phone number on his envelope

Name + phone number + Internet search = [use your imagination]

21 posted on 04/10/2007 1:29:36 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: ctdonath2

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.


22 posted on 04/10/2007 1:34:24 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

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 ;-).


23 posted on 04/10/2007 1:39:17 PM PDT by sauropod ("An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools." Ernest Hemingway)
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To: The_Reader_David

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.
etc.
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.


24 posted on 04/10/2007 1:53:48 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: ctdonath2

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.


25 posted on 04/10/2007 1:57:15 PM PDT by California Patriot ("That's not Charley the Tuna out there. It's Jaws." -- Richard Nixon)
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To: Hildy

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.


26 posted on 04/10/2007 1:58:41 PM PDT by peeps36 (OUTLAWED WORDS--INSURGENT,GLOBAL WARMING,UNDOCUMENTED WORKER,PALESTINIAN,TERMINATED PREGNANCY)
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To: sauropod

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.


27 posted on 04/10/2007 2:00:48 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: California Patriot
Poor people ... don’t always do things in ways that seem rational to us.

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?

28 posted on 04/10/2007 2:06:03 PM PDT by ctdonath2 (The color blue tastes like the square root of 0?)
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To: Mark
I've never seen a prescription with the price already marked on it. Never.

The dude got scammed.
29 posted on 04/10/2007 2:14:59 PM PDT by reagan_fanatic (I have a big carbon footprint and I'm not afraid to use it.)
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To: Mark

As a former junkie, I can assure you that this man was scammed.


30 posted on 04/10/2007 2:17:40 PM PDT by Lazamataz (God: Always, In All Ways.)
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To: ctdonath2
If one needs food, give food.
If one needs gas, give gas.
If one needs treatment, give treatment.

Right.

But if one needs rectal suppositories, DO NOT give money, or you will actually be giving the person crack cocaine.

31 posted on 04/10/2007 2:19:02 PM PDT by Lazamataz (God: Always, In All Ways.)
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To: Mark

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.


32 posted on 04/10/2007 3:12:43 PM PDT by manic4organic (Send a care package through USO today.)
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To: ctdonath2
I'd drive him to the hospital.

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.

33 posted on 04/10/2007 3:15:44 PM PDT by sauropod ("An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools." Ernest Hemingway)
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To: Mark

Take him to the drug store and pay for his prescription. If there is no prescription, well, then you know the truth.


34 posted on 04/10/2007 6:38:27 PM PDT by ViLaLuz (2 Chronicles 7:14)
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To: ctdonath2

That is my way of helping ..... no cash. Food is fine, need a cop or an ambulance, I’ll call one, etc.


35 posted on 04/10/2007 8:24:37 PM PDT by B4Ranch ("Steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world." -George Washington-)
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To: Riverman94610

Rationalizing away your contibution to a mans drug habit. That’s good.


36 posted on 04/10/2007 8:32:12 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (If America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Mark
"bleeding rectally in a Latino part of the Valley."

I've seen people bleed from a lot of places but never from the Latino part....

37 posted on 04/11/2007 1:03:43 AM PDT by cherry
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To: The_Reader_David

“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 ....”


38 posted on 04/22/2007 1:41:24 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: Titan Magroyne

We just keep getting more conservatives (ie, liberals who have been mugged).


39 posted on 04/22/2007 1:43:20 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: Mark
democrat politicians have been using one variant or another of this scam for decades

It is dependent upon the hapless who "feel" rather than making informed decision ... that after all is the definition of a lib/dem

.

40 posted on 04/22/2007 1:53:52 PM PDT by Elle Bee
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To: Mark
Used to work in downtown Oakland for about 12 years. Got panhandled all the time with all sorts of sob stories. One time was middle-aged black lady in bedroom slippers. Begging for money for bus fare to get home. She was smoking and had brand new pack of Winstons in her hand. This was when the pack was around 2-3 dollars. I asked her how much the cigarettes cost. *Silence* Then I was called a GD M&**& F*((*(* I laughed and kept on moving. I used to see her around the area panhandling. She just glared at me but never tried to hit me up for money. DON’T FEED THE PIGEONS
41 posted on 04/22/2007 2:21:03 PM PDT by Polynikes
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