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This week I drove for 24 hours in a 48 hour period. During this ridiculous trip, I stopped at a travel plaza in the vastness that is Ohio. This was one of the better ones, that is actually clean and has two fast food joints in it along with the truckers, and a million gas pumps. You can even take a shower there if you like Syphilis… As I pulled up to the pump and got out of my car, a fellow started moving in my direction. Having lived in NYC for 5 years I read this guy immediately. He thought he had found a mark. I started pumping gas, and the fellow walked up to me, sunglasses on, mullet in full force, rebel hat on, and the first thing he asks me is, “Are you from around here”. Odd question to ask right? Well I was in hour 5 of my 12 hour drive at that point, so instead of telling a lie, I told him I was indeed not from this part of town and from Louisville. I figured why lie? My license plate says Ky anyway. He took this as bait and went into his spiel. Ive heard it a million times, usually on the subway at midnight, or noon, or whatever time I had the misfortune of taking an MTA train anywhere near midtown or 42nd street. Its always the same, the house burned down, the mother is sick, the rent is due, the gas is empty, blah, blah blah. I believe the lie this time went something like, “I am out of gas and me and my wife are trying to get home. Can you spare some money.” Now I looked at the wife, young and pretty, hair done, nails done, and staring down at her Iphone, furiously texting. The guy seemed in his forties.
Like I said, living in NYC I had plenty of experience at turning down beggars. Real Christian of me huh? Yeah I was mostly broke at the time, paying far too much to eat, drink, and sleep in the place everyone wants to be, but that is not really an excuse. It is definitely an explanation, but not an excuse. Well, maybe I was feeling remorse for the homeless I turned a blind eye to every day when I lived in the city, or just felt extra charitable, but I gave him a twenty. I could spare it. I had enough to get home and more, so why not give? Call me a fool, but at the end of the day I figured there but for the grace of God go I. So what if he had money and I was duped, if his life is pulling 20 buck scams in the travel plaza, then his life sucks and he needs the dough.