Wednesday, 28 October 2009


I am usually the sort of person that is suspicious of everyone. I trust only a few, rarely pause if a stranger stops me in the street, and discourage random conversation. This is probably a general malaise everyone suffers from when living in a big city, but little personal safety checks like these are a wise idea when moving around town on your own and after dark. However I fell for the biggest trick in the book yesterday, and now feel really stupid.

It was dark, and as I got off my train a woman stopped me. She was dressed nicely and didn’t look like a beggar. I thought she wanted to ask directions, so paused. She told me she stopped me ‘because I looked nice’ – this should have sent a warning bell through my mind. She told me that her boyfriend was supposed to pick her up but he had to work and now she was stranded with no money and needed to get a bus.

Even though my warning bell was now clanging loud and clear, I couldn’t help but wonder what if it was true, and how horrible it feels to be stuck far from home. But I am stupid as well, because I asked her how short she was of the bus fare and she said £2.50 – all bus fares are £2. But did I pause? No, I didn’t even think of that anomaly, I just gave her what I had - £2. She thanked me and we parted.

A little way down the road I stopped. How silly! I had a travel card that was about to run out, and wasn’t going to use it that evening. I could give her that and then she could get anywhere she wanted to go. So I turned back.

I found her walking up the road, away from the bus stop she needed. She looked worried that I had caught up with her. I told her about the travel card and she laughed nervously and said no it was fine as her work would give her back the money for the journey… she then quickly ran off up the road as I am sure she realised from my face that what she said was bollocks. I watched her go – she disappeared down a side road, nowhere near the bus station. And then I walked home.

The sad thing is, next time someone asks I will not stop. I will not give them anything as I will not trust they are telling the truth. This is what these people don’t realise – they erode people’s kindness, and that sort of thing is bloody priceless and costs far more than £2.


Kit Courteney said...

Oh, Jayne, you did what any decent person would have.

It's always the 'what if she's telling the truth' thing on our mind.

It's called kindness, empathy, bloody decentnessivism...or something.

You might be conned again.

You might not.

But you won't stop being kind because one day it could be someone genuine (there are a few out there). Let 'them' be burned in hell with red hot pokers up their arses and STDs dripping out them, the fuckers...

Don't become hardened. But trust your instinct.

If your instinct is lacking one day, then so be it. Don't stop being you x

Rose said...

Oh dear that's horrible- perhaps there was something more awful to it than she could say- that must have left a really nasty feeling in the air.

I agree with Kit above, at least you are a good kind person. I'm like you and have trained myself to be wary but sometimes I buckle even though I know I shouldn't and give money to people who are clearly just going to go and buy drugs. It's so hard.

Jayne said...

Hi Kit. That is very wise and true. I guess I just felt so silly for stopping, but there’s always the ‘what if’ and I guess you can’t let nasty folk put you off from caring as then they win, and I end up bitter and believing the Daily Mail. That is so not going to happen! Most folks are decent I shall tell myself, it’s only a few that are
so-and-so’s, not the other way around. Thank you.

Jayne said...

Hi Rose. I think it is a scam, I have seen another girl on the same stretch of road asking for money for various reasons. I never stopped for her as she sounded like she was begging, but this other girl sounded genuine – except now I think they might be connected, and it might be ultimately a drug thing anyway. As you say, it’s so hard. She could have been genuine, and I guess I will not let it put me off helping the next person I think is genuine, as you never know. Thanks for words of support!