Taxiing From One Mood To Another

, , , | Friendly | June 6, 2019

(My husband and I are walking down a street of bars and restaurants popular with local university students. It’s fairly unusual to see panhandlers in this part of town. We are approached by a middle-aged woman who looks like she’s been crying.)

Woman: “Excuse me. I’m so sorry, but my car broke down and I can’t get home. Someone called me a taxi but I can’t pay them. Can you help me?”

(My husband and I are always uncomfortable in these situations because we have a lot of sympathy for people who are down on their luck, but there are also a lot of scammers out there, and it can be difficult to tell the two apart.)

Me: “Um, I’m sorry, but neither of us really carry cash, so…”

(We go back and forth with the woman for a few minutes — “Don’t you have a little change?” “Can you go to an ATM?” — because unfortunately, neither my husband nor I have the blunt social skills to be good at exiting these types of situations. I see a taxi pull up. The driver and I make eye contact. He looks at me, looks at the woman, and slowly shakes his head. The woman also sees this.)

Woman: *now screaming* “You won’t help me because I’m [race]! That taxi driver is [same race] and he won’t even help me! I just need a way home! Help me, help me, help!”

(She is now full-on sobbing and screaming in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Extremely uncomfortable but not wanting to be confrontational, I finally mumble, “Sorry,” and pull my husband away. We had plans to meet friends in a bar on that street, but I’m fairly shaken up so we just end up going home. Fast forward a few months. We’re walking down that same street, and I spot the same woman on a cell phone. The closer we get, the louder she begins to talk, something about a broken down vehicle and calling a taxi. She hangs up just we are passing by because our car is parked on the street right next to her.)

Woman: *calling out to us cheerfully and clearly not recognizing us* “Hello, lovely couple!”

Both Of Us: “No, thank you!” *jumps in car and leaves*

(If you’re going to scam people, at least change your story often enough that the taxi driver won’t call you out in front of the same exact people you try to scam a few months later.)

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