Conned, or Good Deed?

Yesterday on my way to visit my family, I stopped to get gas.

While getting ready to pump my gas, a car parked at the pump across from me. As probably with all of us, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. That is, until a man appeared in my peripheral vision and startled me.

He apologized for startling me, then proceeded to ask me to help with gas. His tale was about how he was coming back from seeing his wife’s’ mom, who was in the hospital, and while there, their car had a mechanical issue. Getting the car fixed had taken all of their money and they were trying to get home (which was about 60 miles away). While talking he was apologetic and said he was embarrassed to have to ask a stranger for help.

While he was talking, I was “sizing” him up since being asked to help for some or another reason is becoming commonplace. His car was a bit beat up, his wife was in the drivers seat, there didn’t appear to be any immediate danger of anyone jumping me, no kids, the man looked like he hadn’t slept in a few days, clothes were what I would expect for the area.

So there was the dilemma, was he telling the truth or not? A decision had to be made. He wasn’t asking for money specifically. His car was parked in a good place to add gas for them, he appeared to be sincere, and I wasn’t getting a bad vibe from him although I did wonder if he might be an opioid addict, which is common for the area.

In the end, I gave them enough gas to get home, plus a little more. I still wasn’t fully convinced of his story, nor was I convinced it wasn’t true. Since his car was parked in the right spot, I just took the hose around and pumped the gas for him while making sure my car was secure and my credit card (and what I would spend) were under my control.

He was appreciative and didn’t try to convince me to give him money instead. Afterwards, he and his wife drove off.

With everything going on, I think if we can, and our gut doesn’t send us into fight or flight mode, we should help if possible. In the end, it didn’t hurt me or my family financially to help a little and maybe this family will help someone in the future.

Either way, although I still wonder if I was conned or not, in the end it doesn’t matter. In the moment, it was the right thing to do. The world needs a little more kindness right now.

What would you have done?

2 thoughts on “Conned, or Good Deed?

  1. Similar thing happened to me inside Target this week. A young woman with a non-American accent approached me very apologetically. She said she was broke and needed formula (it was in her cart) for her baby and didn’t have any money. She said her baby was in the car with her mother. I asked her a few questions. She seemed sincere, but I still suspected a possible scam. I was torn. Do I give her money and possibly fall for a scam, or do I give her money and help feed a child? My “emotions” were being triggered. Was that part of the plan?

    As a senior citizen I know I can be a target for scammers. Even inside Target. I trusted my instincts in this situation and ended up giving her some cash. But I wasn’t completely comfortable.

    In retrospect, I could have asked better questions. And I probably should have asked the manager if the customer was on their radar. I learned from this experience. I am a kind person, but I should (and will be) more inquisitive and discerning in the future.


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