I was at the gas station recently and a man approached me, you can always tell the ones. They look a little out of place, a little hesitant and bold at the same time.
"Excuse me sir, I never do this but I just have to ask"
Ok, here comes another one. Another panhandler, hell bent on making my day suck.
"You see, I have a daughter and she called me late last night. She got pulled over, got arrested. I was driving down here from the Woodlands."
He needs gas. They always need gas. If they only knew how routine this story was.
"They impounded her car and the charges went up. She initially called me around 11:30 and needed only $165 but now they have added another $50 for holding the car another day."
He's not nearly done telling me this story. I know because he's really into the routine now. It's been well rehearsed. And so much DETAIL! These stories always contain lots of details.
"So you see, Mister, the price went up on the impound fee. I have the extra money to get her car I do, I'm not asking you for much. I just need about $8.00 to buy gas to make it back up to the Woodlands."
I'm thinking, adding in my head. Yes, about $8.00. This is also the cost of VERY cheap cigarettes and VERY cheap beer, combined. $8.00. I won't share with you how I know this, but I know.
"So Sir, God Bless you. I am not lying. I DO LIE, probably ever day I do. But I am not lying right now."
I found this confession odd. I imagine that he thought it might make him appear more sensible or genuinely human.
"So you see, I am telling God's honest truth. Can I have $8.00?"
I have been listening and nodding and saying things like "Uh hu, I see." I'm not giving him $8.00. I could give him a couple bucks I suppose. But you know what? I don;t have a lot of money either and I work hard for the little that I have. I consider my writing goals and I decide to be creative. This thing will make for a fine little blog post. He had been using a nice Texas accent, maybe natural, maybe overblown a little but a good southern drawl. I say in MY best southern drawl:
"Ooooooh Man, Lordy! You have come upon a stretch of bad luck ain't ya'? And God bless you and your daughter. My heart goes out to ya' my friend."
You have to show empathy and kindness. It helps to get you off the hook.
"But let me tell you what happened to me just the other day. I was takin' my lil' dawg, her names Misty. She's a Shitsa'Poo mix breed, I was takin' her for a walk down there at Oyster Creek in Sugar Land. We was walkin' right up close to the creek. You know them signs out there that reads 'beware of alligators?' I never pay attention to them signs. But I'll be DAMNED if an ole' gator didn't jump right up and bite Misty's hind legs off! What with the vet bills and all, I ain't got a dime to spare!"
I'm telling you now, you can't go wrong with an alligator story.