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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pay it Forward Update

It has been 10 days since an apparently distressed man in the Blockbuster parking lot hit me up for help, explaining that he'd had a breakdown or wreck or something likethat, saying he was tapped out and explaining that he and his wife just needed to get to the train station to make their way back to Boca.

I mentioned then that I like to be very discriminating in my charity, 'cause there are so many frauds out there. But something about this guy compelled me to accept his pitch. He seemed sincere, and I never think that about the would-be beneficiary in these situations.

So I spotted the guy $20. I didn't ask for repayment, but he insisted on taking my card and giving me his. He said he'd mail me a check. Nothing yet. I guess I could give him more time. But somehow I don't think anything will change.

I didn't want him to pay it forward. Even though I didn't ask, I wanted him to pay it backward - give me back my money, as promised, and then when he's doing a little better pay it forward on his own dime. But so far I haven't heard from him.

I'm tempted to call him, but it probably wasn't even his real name or phone number on the card. And even if it was accurate info what would I say? You conned me!

That's OK, it's what I suspected would happen.

But trust me, you do not want to be the next "distressed" person who hits me up for a buck, 'cause I'm gonna do like Tupac Shakur in the movie Poetic Justice (his character was a letter carrier who wanted to be a rapper) and start offering folks free postage stamps with which to mail themselves job applications.

I'm not 100% anti-charity. I'm just going to revert to my old policy of giving - on those rare occasions - because it's a nice thing to do, not because I care.

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