Almost conned…

I’m a soft touch. I freely admit it. I’d rather believe someone when they tell me a sob story…would rather believe the best of someone.

In some ways, I don’t think that is a bad thing. But it does sometimes leave me open to (almost) being conned.

Yesterday I was just heading out to my car to go to the library when I was accosted by a large out-of-breath man with a sob story. He and his two daughters had just moved to our town…were living in a motel on the edge of town…and needed some food just for the one night (and bus fare to get back to the motel). He’d been to a few other churches with no luck…had gone to a community food bank, and it was closed… Could I give him some help?

I wanted to believe him…wanted to help. But his story caught me totally off-guard, and I wasn’t sure what to do or how to react. The one thing that I did know was that I wasn’t comfortable taking him someplace by myself.

So I asked him to sit on our front porch while I went inside to ask my husband to help. Then I headed off to the library!

While I was there, my husband called and told me he was taking the individual back to his hotel. But then…another call a few minutes later.

The man didn’t want to be driven all the way to the motel…was fine with being dropped off at a church they passed. His daughters weren’t at the motel…they were staying with a woman next door who had helped them a few days already. He needed bus fare for a job interview the next day…but couldn’t describe the job. The place where he described the community food bank was where it had been…but it’s been moved for a couple of years. The story kept changing, depending on what our responses were.

I feel bad about the situation. I really wanted to believe him…but now I wonder just how much (if any) of the story was true. And if (or more likely when) someone else approaches me for help, will this “almost-con experience” make me hesitate?

I still think that being a soft touch is okay. But I guess I also need a little bit more skepticism…and that’s too bad.

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