Saturday, April 15, 2006

What Were They Thinking?

(This is about hoaxes and the motivation, or lack thereof, behind them.)

Yesterday morning on the way to work I stopped for gas. It was about 6 a.m. and still dark out. As I was filling up, a man in his late twenties to early thirties approached me. He stopped at the front of my car and said, "I was wondering if you could help me? My car has a radiator leak and I don't have the money to fix it."

Looking around, I realized that the nearest person to me was the attendant in the station. While still holding onto the nozzle, I asked the guy, "Where is your car?" He pointed to a dilapidated car with the driver's side caved in from being sideswiped sitting in front of the storefront. "Where do you live?" I asked. He replied, "I live at Henrietta (a town about 50 miles away)". As the hospital that I work for was directly across the street, I asked, "Why are you here in Tulsa?" thinking he might have a family member there.

And this is what he said was his reason, "I brought A WOMAN here trying to be nice, and this is what I get in return". The guy didn't even have the decency to blush or look embarrassed.

As I stood there digesting that golden nugget of information flipping from being slightly irritated by being panhandled to outraged, the guy continued on, "I only have $1 in my pocket, if you could just buy me the $3.99 radiator anti-leak I could get on my way home". "Don't you have anybody that can come get you, or wire you money?" I asked. His reply, "No. (Now I get the sob story). My dad is on dialysis, and my sister has four kids and is barely getting by."

So I made a decision after standing there staring at him a minute more, totally giving into complete disgust for this healthy male who was obviously not ever going to make anything more of himself than to be a nuisance to his family and mankind. "OK, I'll buy you the stuff, follow me into the store." And so he did. He pointed out what he wanted and I paid for it.

He had left the store ahead of me and as I walked out and up to him I noticed that the entire windshield of the car was filled with cracks running the length of it. Driving a car that was junk 50 miles...Obviously, the guy had no sense. He had demonstrated he had no shame. What a piece of work, he was.

Unable to contain myself any longer (and feeling like I had paid the price of admission to this farce) I said, "Here, take it. Get yourself home, and then GET A JOB." As I walked away, he said to a man passing by, "I was wondering if you could help me, my car has run out of gas, and I have only got $1 in my pocket...".

The case of the Missouri couple who got an entire community to give them money, based on their claims of having had sextuplets is another example of panhandling in extreme. They couldn't pay their bills, so came up with the perfect way to deal with it. Let someone else pay for them. Stupidity and laziness is seen in extreme in this case. It was called a hoax, but it really is panhandling because money was given by well meaning individuals based on the sob story they were told.

Yet another "hoax" is the story of the 16 year old girl from Kansas that faked her own disappearance, which led to a massive two state search and involved the time of numerous law enforcement agencies and individuals. Called "a good kid", "an over-achiever", and "not an attention hog" this girl has panhandled time, money, and emotional involvement from not only her community, but people living in a wide area who have seen recently a rash of young girls killed by men living a short distance away from them. Even as the search was on for this 16 year old, a ten year old was reported missing and was found brutally murdered two days later. A HOAX they call it. Excuse me, but again it is the work of a panhandler who tells a sob story in which well meaning individuals are taken advantage of. Her family is making excuses for her and coddling her, which is not going to make her (regardless of her being "a good student") a better member of society.

Same story, different verse...

All three of these situations involve the perpetrator (a panhandler) who for lack of personal motivation to take responsibility for themselves, chooses instead to let society support them be it financially or emotionally. My personal run in with a panhandler was minor, compared to the other two cases. Maybe in my case the guy was sooo stupid, he couldn't come up with anything better. What is amazing is the amount of time and energy that is spent by these individuals working out the details of a lie, without any apparent thought as to what will happen to them should they be caught in it.

The guy that hoaxed me into money was not the first to approach me in this gas station and I am sure will not be the last. Panhandlers are a dime a dozen in the vicinity of the hospital. Wearing a nursing uniform is like being a magnet to the "down and out". My fellow nurses said that he could "smell I was weak". Which just goes to show, that nurses may take on the task of trying to save the world, but we are jaded now to the needs of those outside the walls from which we work. Magnets maybe, but not easy targets anymore - approach us and you may very well pay for it, if it is nothing more than being told exactly what you are, a deadbeat.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 7:16 AM