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Phil's Rambling Rants
September 22nd, 2005
05:25 pm


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A good Samaritan or an easy mark?
Last night as I was getting gas, a man drove up to me and told me that he and his wife were from Chicago, they'd just been made homeless by a fire, they were on their way to a church in Danville, and he needed $20.  I gave it to him.  After he left, I found myself thinking I'd probably been conned, but while I was talking to him it felt like it was the right thing to do.  I don't normally give money to people who are panhandling, and I never give them that much if I do.  I really can't say why I did it.  I don't expect to ever find out if he was really in need or just someone who knew how to push buttons I didn't really know I had.

Perhaps there is a lesson I should be taking from the incident, but I'm not sure what it is.

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(6 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:September 22nd, 2005 10:39 pm (UTC)
Probably a con. You paid the decent human being tax.
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Date:September 22nd, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
Oops. That was me.
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Date:September 22nd, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Ah-yup. You were conned.

So what?

Could you spare the money? Did you feel better giving it to him because you were helping someone, or did you feel guilty because you feared it might be a con?

Since you will never know if the guy was going to buy food, carfare, ammo, heroin, collectible postage stamps, or an inflatable doll, if you can spare it and it makes you feel as if you are helping someone, I don't see the problem.

If you can't spare it, or don't know if it's on the up-and-up, don't give. Simple as that.
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Date:September 23rd, 2005 01:29 am (UTC)
Sometimes I'll ask what they need the money for and buy it for them - that way I know at least what it is being used for. I took one fellow with me to the grocery and bought food for him and his family, then drove him to the place they were staying, and felt I'd really helped someone in need. On the other hand, I've also helped the "guy at the gas station" who needed to get home - I have to say it was a gas station I use fairly frequently and I've never seen him or his elderly father around there again, so that gives it some points for being legit.

I agree with those who say that sometimes you give anyway because you might just help someone who really needs it.
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Date:September 23rd, 2005 02:07 am (UTC)
Maybe you were conned but I'd prefer to think that maybe you weren't. And I'll continue thinking that you're a good person and you helped someone who needed it. Doesn't cost anymore to see the good...
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Date:September 23rd, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC)
I occasionally give a bit of money to the people with the really complex stories. Who knows if any of the story is true.

The best story I ever got, though, was this one.
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