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  • Devil or Doofus?
  • Post author
    Don Moyer
  • begblogcharitydevildoofusgenerositygifthuman naturelessonmoneypanhandlescam

Devil or Doofus?

Devil or Doofus?

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it is probably worth it.

A few weeks ago, I was driving on Carson Street in the South Side of Pittsburgh early on Sunday morning. While stopped at a traffic light, a guy came over to my window and asked for help. He pointed to a car across the street which had its hood up. He explained that he was a carpenter trying to get to a job but having car troubles. He said his name was Joe and, to establish his bona fides, he named the contractor he was working for and several recent jobs. He said he had already called a tow truck but was going to be $17 short of cash when it arrived. I gave him $20 and he promised to send me repayment on Monday morning. I gave him my business card so he’d have the right address.

Joe expressed sincere and lasting gratitude as he walked away toward his disabled car. I got to enjoy the pleasure of knowing I had helped a suffering human being in a moment of misfortune. Don, you are a good person.

It was while I was congratulating myself that I noticed Joe had dropped my card on the pavement. I jumped out, grabbed the card, and handed it to him...again. 

Of course, in the days and weeks that followed, Joe never repaid me. 

It is tempting to see Joe as a diabolical parasite feeding on the generosity and goodwill of strangers. Pure evil. But it is probably more accurate to see him as an incompetent nincompoop. Based on the evidence, Joe probably lost my card again before he reached his vehicle. There’s a good chance he also lost my $20 bill before the tow truck arrived.

In general the world has far more stupid people than evil people. Look around you. Nincompoops outnumber devils one thousand to one. 

 Don

 

  • Don Moyer
  • begblogcharitydevildoofusgenerositygifthuman naturelessonmoneypanhandlescam

Comments on this post (21)

  • Sep 30, 2016

    Most fun: Hand a 20 to a panhandler. The double take is worth every cent.

    — MJ

  • Sep 30, 2016

    Sorry you got scammed by being a decent person?
    Good time for a cup of classy curse coffee?

    — Leslie c

  • Sep 30, 2016

    How ’bout Devil & Doofus? Several years ago over the course of several months I was approached by the same guy 4 or 5 times with a request for help with his car which was always parked a few blocks away. I gave him money the first time, but not the other times. On the 3rd or 4th approach I told him he needed to be more careful. The last time he ran away from me as soon as I started talking. Yep, Devil & Doofus can appear together sometimes.

    — Mike

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Even though you feel scammed (this time) don’t give up. There ARE good and honest people out there who might genuinely need help. I give if I can, what I can afford to give, never expecting to see it again….And the flip side, I have been helped by total strangers. Most don’t ask for anything in return except to help someone else in need. Pass it on and stay the compassionate person you are.

    — AJ

  • Sep 29, 2016

    If it’s someone I don’t know, I do not expect to get money back. It’s either a gift or nothing. Sometimes someone will ask for a specific amount, but I will just give them pocket change. I don’t tend to pull my wallet out in the street.

    — Carol

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Going through life with an open and generous heart is a reward in itself. Getting scammed is an occasional hazard, but worth the risk to rest secure in the knowledge that you did the right thing.

    — Andrea

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Dear Don, I am traveling To see my long lost auntie. She has been lost for many years. I only need $18 to get to her.

    — Leslie

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Drug addict.

    — Heather

  • Sep 29, 2016

    It’s the intention that matters….not the result.
    On the other hand, the road to Hell is purportedly paved with good intentions.
    I sometimes give money to strangers, especially strangers with pets.
    There’s a Hispanic family that appears at the corner of our local Wal-mart with a sign requesting gas money to help them return home to Mexico. 2 years and they still haven’t left for Mexico.

    — TJ Dellinger

  • Sep 29, 2016

    There’s a county mental health facility about a mile from us, tucked behind a shopping center with a gas station. Residents of the facility get “free time” and wander the shopping center for exercise. One guy had a routine of approaching gas station customers and asking for three dollars for fare to get to his mother who was in the hospital on her death bed. The hospital was across the street. His demeanor was a give away that he was from the mental health facility. And the three bucks was cheap enough for the story. We think he was cured since we haven’t seen him in years

    — Dee Cael

  • Sep 29, 2016

    I know many people including myself that this has happened to. I choose to see it as a reflection on the giver’s excellent and compassionate personage than on the storyteller’s flaws whatever they may be. You sir are an excellent and compassionate person! Thanks for being here!

    — Victoria Pueschel

  • Sep 29, 2016

    I always try to help if i am able. I comfort myself knowing that if the person doesnt actually need my help, then they are at fault and i cant control their actions. But, if i could have helped but didnt because i didnt want to chance being cheated, then i would be at fault. Better to give freely, then to hold back help that is needed.

    — Stephanie B-V

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Similar thing happened to me in the Washington, DC, Metro. I didn’t see the guy drop my card, but neither did I get my money back. However, about a year later, the same guy came up to me with the same story. I enjoyed telling him you scammed me for money once before—never again.

    — Margaret

  • Sep 29, 2016

    This is a variation on a classic very old hustle. Usually there is a “garage needing payment” in the story with the more pressure about “wife and kids waiting”, always claim to get the money back somehow and lastly an odd dollar amount in order for you to round up your gift because who wants to make change in an “emergency”. Don, you are a good and well-intentioned person, but you fell for the most typical of pan-handler scams.

    — garbageday

  • Sep 29, 2016

    A couple of years ago I found two $20s and one $10 on top of hedges at our library. I looked around to see if someone was observing — no one. What a find! I should send them on to you, Don — you’re a special fella! ps $50 long gone……..

    — Arlene in Doylestown

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Once whenevacuation for Hurricane Rita I was caught in the massive exodus in Houston. It took us 2 days just to reach the north side of Houston. Traveling with 5 children, 3 cats, a turtle, a hamster, and a disabled friend who was out of her insulin. (The public health clinic closed 3 DAYS before mandatory evacuation.) We ran out of gas. No open gas stations. No bathrooms. No food except the fruit and water we brought. No bathrooms. It took 3 days to reach shelter in Oklahoma. A kindly couple gave us a gallon of gas to get to the closest Texas Dept of Transportation station for more gas. Still no bathrooms or food. We gave out water to a passing woman with a baby traveling without water. The kindly couple gave us a card and it took me 4 month but I did write a thank you note and pay for their gas. You may get your note yet!

    — Virginia

  • Sep 29, 2016

    I leave items posted on Craig’s List on my front porch with instructions to leave payment under the mat. Last night, someone left $20 for something I was selling for $15. Not nincompoops. Maybe it depends where.

    — JHH

  • Sep 29, 2016

    Someone tried to pull the same thing to me, down to asking for only $17.

    — David Allen

  • Sep 29, 2016

    You are a good man. Yes people steal, are deceitful, dishonest, and even incompetent. But you still persist in believing in the better part of human nature. It’s worth the occasional $20 fee.

    — Teresa Dendy

  • Sep 29, 2016

    You are a good man. Yes people steal, are deceitful, dishonest, and even incompetent. But you still persist in believing in the better part of human nature. It’s worth the occasional $20 fee.

    — Teresa Dendy

  • Sep 29, 2016

    You have a great way with words. So true

    — Jane Bayer Venås

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