At about 8:45 a.m. Saturday, I stopped by the Semiahmoo branch of Bank of Montreal to withdraw funds for the list of errands I had to accomplish that day.
As I exited, a youngish man was pacing the sidewalk just outside the door. He appeared worried.
“Ma’am,” he said politely, “I am almost out of gas – I have to get back out to Chilliwack to my two children and I’ve left my wallet at home. Could you loan me a 20?”
He handed me a business card and said, “I will repay you – just call this number.”
It’s interesting how time accelerates or slows down on its own accord – the interaction could only have been a minute or two, but in my mind a couple scenarios had opportunity to play out.
I had a vision of his children waiting at home – and another of his dealer waiting at the corner. Was he the real deal or a scammer?
I looked at the business card – real enough. I asked which vehicle was his – he pointed to an older minivan with a ladder strapped to the roof. I looked him in the eye.
As I took a $20-bill out of my purse I said, “I hope you’re telling me the truth – if you’re not, I’m going to feel really stupid.” He God-blessed me and left.
As I drove to my appointment, I I wondered if I should have offered to stop and prepay $20 for his gas. I berated myself. I wondered what he was doing in White Rock at 8:45 a.m. without enough gas to get back to his children. I kicked myself. Twenties are hard-earned for everyone.
As my stylist cut my hair I relayed the story and she said not to feel foolish – her husband had fallen victim to the same scam.
Then I thought about the man’s desperation – he needed something and he required a 20 to get it. Gas or whatever, he targeted a stranger.
If I’ve been scammed, I want to warn other sympathetic marks. If he, in fact, needed gas to get home to his children in Chilliwack, then I God-bless him right back. I don’t intend to call the number on the business card and will chalk this up to a $20 lesson.
Unfortunately, if this was a ruse, what these scammers actually do is extinguish the generosity of strangers.
Elva Stoelers, Surrey