Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Creative panhandling

There’s more serious stuff I’ll get to later, but now, for something light

Over at Nonsequiturs, Nanseeking is discussing her upcoming Fulbright exchange to Xalapa, Mexico. She has been given advice to be especially careful when using ATMs in Mexico, but as far as I can tell, the advice equally applies to ATMs anywhere. For example, ATMs in exposed locations may have people with less-than-honest intentions watching, with the intent of mugging or the like.

More likely than muggers, in my experience, have been panhandlers. They have just seen someone get money out of the ATM, so the mark doesn’t have the excuse that he or she doesn’t have any cash to give.

There is one panhandler who stands out in my memory. In this case, I hadn’t been to an ATM, but I had just bought gas for my car at a convenience store near UNM, and the panhandler had seen me get change from the store clerk.

He had a really good story. “My car’s out of gas. My uncle has a gas station in the South Valley, and I just need enough gas to get there, just a dollar’s worth.” (This was when gas was about $1 a gallon.) He pointed to his car, a Cadillac, circa 1972, 23 feet long and 9 feet wide, seven tons of solid steel powered by a 406-cubic-inch V8 that had no sort of fuel-efficiency devices whatsoever. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to get all the way to the South Valley in that gunboat on a mere gallon of gas.

I had him pull up to the pump, and I bought him not just $1, but $2 worth of gas. Sure, he probably didn’t really need the gas, and he was probably hoping for me just to give him the cash, so he could spend it on something else. But I had to admire the creativity of his approach.

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Blogger nanseeking said...

Carol Anne, I enjoyed your comments here about panhandling, appropos of my ATM topic--and thanks for the link.

It occurred to me that panhandlers should at least regale their panhandlees with imaginative stories. Then we could consider our dollars as entertainment fees.

Frankly, I'm weary of the "out of gas" line. Like you, I appreciate creativity: "I'm $5 short of the money I need a sex-change operation." Or even honesty: "I'm a junky and need a fix real bad."

I'm glad your son is okay despite the damage to the car.


Mon Jun 25, 06:44:00 PM MDT  

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