As many of you may know, I have a penchant for shopping at ghetto grocery stores. Not because I particularly savor the “American Calcutta” experience, but because I’m rather… Parsimonious.
Aka a cheap bastard.
Plus, from where I work, it’s just easier to get to (and park) at these type of stores.
Most of the time the trip is uneventful. I never have major shopping to do, so it’s always just a quick trip for like a bag or two of grub. No biggie. I get in, get out, get home. No fuss, no muss.
However, yesterday I was approached in the parking lot. For money.
A woman came up to me, introduced herself, and then proceeded to give me her life story in a shaky voice about moving here from Milwaukee, recently burying her deceased daughter, taking care of her granddaughter, getting her disability approval (complete with envelope of paperwork), but how she wouldn’t get any money for 30 days, and could I please go in the store and “bust her some groceries” so she could feed her family and also get her some gas for her car?
I politely told her that I wouldn’t be able to help her out, got in my car, and drove away.
And have felt guilty ever since.
Should I have believed her story? It was pretty elaborate and not the standard “hey, can I get a couple bucks?” routine. But I’ve heard tell of very creative folks who scam lots of money this way, and this has made me rather jaded.
I know she targeted me because of my car and clothes, etc. I’m sure I looked like I had extra money (which I do), and like a nice guy (which evidently I’m not).
Maybe this woman was in dire straights and brought to begging in parking lots out of desperation. Or maybe she needed some extra money for the Casino bus which stops in this very same parking lot.
Even so, I could have just given her a 20 from my wallet and wished her well. 20 bucks isn’t going to break me, and there was the potential that she was telling the truth. Plus I would have banked some good karma, right?
I definitely could have chosen to believe her and helped her out with a little cash. But when the moment arrived, I chose to turn my back instead.
And that decision is still eating me up today.
Why didn’t I just open my wallet? Or my heart? Am I that cold, that… indifferent? Am I “that guy”?
I feel like this was some sort of coamic test and I failed miserably. And now I am wishing I could go back and do things differently, which leaves me feeling empty.
What would you have done?