Saturday, July 17, 2010

On Scam Artists

As I was grocery shopping today, a man walked up to me. "You don't remember me," he said.

No. No, I don't remember you, random six-foot-four Mexican with bad teeth and and handshake reminiscent of grasping a cracked, dried out baseball glove.

"Think hard," he said so softly I could barely hear.

"Are you … are you [redacted]'s father?"

"No…" he said. "Where did you used to work?"

"The Gap?"


"Did you used to be one of the delivery guys?"

"Yeah, man, you still working there?"

"Oh, how've you been? No, I haven't worked there in … oh, two years, now? How's it going?"

"My son died today."


Apparently, he just came into A&P to see his cousin, but the cousin wasn't working today. Also, he'd been laid off from IBM last week. Then he asked me if he could ask two questions. The first? He asked for bus fare to get to the hospital today.

Yeah, in hindsight, I volunteered every piece of personal information this guy seemed to know. When it comes to charlatan psychics, this is what is known as a "cold read." By supplying just enough generic detail in the right setting, working from resulting clues a fraud can appear to know a great deal about a person.

How did I get out of this incredibly awkward conversation and whatever smaller favor he was going to ask of me after I said, "No, scumbag, you can't have me lucky charms my money"?

I told him that someone had just stolen my credit card number and I'd been dealing with the bank all day, leaving me only about $20 to my name until a get a new card next week."

Which is true, by the way. Fuckin' sucks. However the universe rewarded me for how well I handed many terrible situation all on the same day. When I went to check out, an adorable, punky/scenester-ish type of cashier girl with a blond bob started chatting me up. Seems she really liked that I bought my Red Bull in bulk. In hindsight, she talked about having one on her break enough that I probably should have asked when she got off, but 20/20 and all.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.