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Home arrow Blog arrow Forgive My Cynicism

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Forgive My Cynicism Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 17 May 2007
Please forgive my cynicism that is in the post. Some people say I'm not very compassionate. Maybe not, but then I have a hard time with people who take advantage of the natural compassion of others. Here's the most recent situation that I ran across. I spent Monday and Tuesday driving from Phoenix to Portland. It was a fun drive -- and I don't like driving -- because there was a strong sense of accomplishment as the miles passed by. Despite the fact that I abhor driving, I love roadtrips.
Along the trip I stopped at a rest area for a quick potty break. As I parked my car I noticed a lady standing in the grass with a bunch of small dogs around her. Just someone walking her dogs, I thought. Then I noticed the sign next to her. The sign said that she was stranded there at the rest area and needed money to help fix her car. At first I felt sorry for her but then I looked at the situation a bit more.
The sign was written with a large black marker on a large piece of white presentation board (the stuff with Styrofoam between two sheets of sturdy cardboard). Presumably she wasn't planning on breaking down at that rest area. So how did she happen to have those materials to make such a nice sign? That was my first hint of a problem.
A brief glance through the parking lot didn't reveal a broken down car anywhere. I was starting to be a bit suspicious.
I didn't notice it at first but as soon as I parked a guy had started walking from the other side of the rest area over towards us. By the time I entered the restroom he was there and he followed me in. The guy looked like he belonged with the lady with the dogs. I took care of business and the other guy did too. He didn't say a word, he just kept looking at me.
Feeling a bit hungry I decided to try and get a snack from the vending machine. Right next to the restroom and the dog lady, and now the dog guy. Before I could get my money into the machine I saw that it was flashing "temporarily out of order". I couldn't help but think that the vending machine had been tampered with.
Happy to be done there, I got in my car and headed back down the freeway. As I drove to the on ramp I spotted a car parked in a remote part of the parking lot. I'm not sure why a broken down car would be driven to the very end of the parking lot and then parked nicely between the painted lines.
I am not at all convinced that the couple there was really in need. It all seemed so staged. The sign, the dogs, the vulture-like guy, the broken vending machine, and the nicely parked car. This is what irritated me. This couple was there trying to get people to donate money for them to fix their car. People who are traveling on family vacations, most likely, so they are feeling like they have a bit of extra cash and they are enjoying the time away from work. The couple at the restarea is just taking advantage of people's compassion. I felt tempted to call the police and report them as loiterers, especially after the guy followed me into the bathroom. I restrained myself and didn't call. But it still irritated me.
Maybe a real car mechanic showed up at the restarea and offered to fix their car for them. It would have been interesting to be there to see the hoax unmasked.

Copyright 2004 - 2008 Mike Noel. All rights reserved.
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