secrets

Have you ever had a secret that you’ve never told anyone, ever? I have. Which is surprising, because normally I don’t keep anything really secret, at least not anything that only I know, and nobody else. So here it is. My secret. It’s not that exciting, really, but more of an interesting human behaviour study.

I was conned.

A con man managed to get $20 from me.

It happened on the afternoon of my wedding rehearsal. Which probably explains the whole thing right there, because I wasn’t thinking too clearly. Too much stress, right? I’m walking to the copy store to pick up our program inserts, and a man comes up to me, looking distressed. “Can you help me?” he says. He says that he’s a soccer player, visiting from France, and he was just at the Varsity arena practicing, but his team left without him. He needs some money to get to the airport hotel where they’re staying. As we’re talking, a car drives by, and the driver slows down. “Are you getting help? Are you going to be ok?” yells the driver to the man. He turns and nods to the passing car, and the car drives off.

I ask him for more details, why he can’t just call? He says he doesn’t know the number. He’s lost. I say that I’m actually quite busy, it’s my wedding rehearsal, and I have to pick up the programs. I’m not sure why I told him this much. “Oh, you’re getting married!” he says. “I’m going to send you a bottle of champagne! When I get to the hotel, I’m going to send you a bottle, and send you your money back. I just need to borrow some money to get back to my team. They’re leaving in the morning.” I remember he was a well dressed black man. He had some keys that he was toying with the whole time.

“That’s really not necessary, I don’t need the champagne,” I say. “I really have to go.”

“I’ll come with you.”

It doesn’t look like I’m going to get rid of this guy, so I agree. I think I was thinking that I shouldn’t be standing on the street with this guy, I should at least go to the copy store where there are more people. We walk.

We get to the store, and I take care of my programs. He waits. He takes a piece of paper, and writes down the name of his hotel, and gives it to me. “Here is my hotel,” he says, “you can call and I will leave the money for you, and I really want to give you something.” I take the paper.

We leave the copy place, and I’m really needing to get back, so I ask him, “How much do you need?” He hems and haws a bit. I make the mistake of taking out my wallet, and he sees that I have a $20. “I need that,” he says, pointing to the $20. And I don’t know what I was thinking, but I gave it to him. I pulled it out and gave it to him. Maybe I was thinking that if I don’t give this to him he’s going to mug me for it. I don’t know. All I know is that as soon as he had the $20 his whole expression changed. His face went dead. There was no more anxiety, no more distress in his face. He took the money, turned, and walked away.

I think that a part of me simply let him con me, knowing that he was doing it, but unsure of how to get rid of him. Another part of me says he needs it more than I if he has to go to such lengths to get money from people. Another part of me is fascinated by how elaborate the whole scheme is. Like Sawyer in LOST. When I look back I’m sure that the passing driver was the second man in this 2-man con. His role is to legitimize the con, make it seem as though he’s really in trouble, and really needs my help.

Why post this now? I was reminded of it on Sunday, because I think I was the intended victim of another con, this time successfully defended. I’ll tell you about that one next time.

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