Yesterday I had an enjoyable time in Springfield, Illinois. It is not a huge city--between 111 and 112 thousand people, quite a bit smaller than Lubbock. I was surprised at how laid-back it was. When I think of a capital city, I think of Austin with bumper to bumper, hideous traffic! Not this capital. However, it does have some similarities to Austin, and that is a capital building and con artists.
I am not going to describe the ones inside the capital building, although I do think Illinois has Texas beat on this event. Instead, I want to tell you about the one I met in the mall parking lot.
I was done shopping, and was walking to the pickup to load up and go home, when I spotted a Cadillac coming my way. I noticed because it doesn't seem like there are many of them around these parts--not as many as I see in Midland. I was about to unlock and get in when she pulled up beside me, and began her story.
She used to drive a truck, but got laid off. I could see why. She looked like someone on a meth documentary--scrawny with bad teeth, hair in disarray. She needed money; her car was nearly out of gas and she needed to get on the road to go to another job. I have seen the same act at Wal Mart in Midland, so I very nicely told her I had spent all my money in the mall. Then she wondered if I had a credit card. Are you kidding me? She still didn't give up--"Do you have any change?" "Nope, I spent it all." She sighed and said, "That that is what women do", and started driving up the row. so I watched her just to see what she would do. She stopped by another lady, and talked for quite a while, then I saw that dear woman hand her two bills. The Cadillac took off, and so did I.
Amazingly it worked out to where I could keep her in sight. She drove across the street to Lowes, or whatever the store was over there. As I was stopped at the light, I saw her get out, hand the two bills to the man who walked up (I could actually see the grin on his face). He got in behind the wheel and she in the passenger seat, and they drove off. And it didn't look like their car was about to run out of gas, or that they were headed to a gas station either.
A priest taught me how to say, "No" to these con artists, and to not fall for the guilt trip that they lay out. I was waiting for my husband in the entrance of Furr's Cafeteria in Lubbock when a man came in, and told me how hungry he was, and wondered if I could spare some money so he could go get a hamburger. I gave him $5, and he tore out the door. Then a priest came in and sat down to wait for someone, so I told him about the poor, hungry man. The priest laid down the law, and told me not to be giving these people money, because they either buy drugs or alcohol, and if they need help with food there are plenty of places that can help them.
So the next time someone drives up, and tells you their bad luck story, don't go for it. You can give them your blessing, but don't give them money. You only contribute to their vice.