The weird thing is even as my mother was telling me I was clearly getting scammed, instead of being a child and saying, "Mommy. Help me! I'm scared!" or being an adult and saying, "Mother dear, you indubitably make an infallible point," I went with petulant teenager and pulled a "You don't know me, lady! I got this!" sort of bravado that I have never before possessed in my life up until this specific situation in which I clearly did not, in any way, shape, or form, have the upper hand, or even, the upper hand-me-down (i.e., collective wisdom from the ancestral spirits).
I had just returned from a tell-all visit with the dentist in which my gums begged for their life as they were poked, prodded, and asked insipid questions about their upkeep, and they squealed, or rather bled, all the sorry details or lack thereof while my teeth looked on silently in horror—wire-caged, ghostlike slabs that they are.
I was also in full sleep-deprivation mode in which I was too fatigued and disoriented to even lie down (bedrock bottom, folks). I was merely wandering from one section of the house to the next trying to make sense of this spatial domain in which I found myself, touching walls and faces (even the repair guy who was over was subject to my zomboid query grunts).
Anyway, so some ruddy-cheeked chap comes to our door with a fake fundraiser spiel and a dream of impressionable, naïve minds.
I'm supposed to answer it because my dad is with the repair guy, my mother is ironing, everyone is fulfilling their antiquated societal roles, and I am supposed to handle the door business as the overgrown girl-baby/indentured servant of the house.
As soon as this guy opened his mouth, 67 percent of me knew that he was lying, and yet, the other 33 percent said, well, hold on now. Let's hear him out. He probably has some great points to make, some things you haven't even considered yet, some brand-new, still-in-their-packaging falsehoods fresh off the pathological press!
He had an alright story, but it had about as many holes as a bylaw involving Swiss cheese. He was trying to raise money for a trip for his fellow honor students by soliciting book donations to a children's hospital. A couple questions ethereally flitted through my numskull: Why aren't they raising their own money? Why is the money going to books for a children's hospital instead of the trip? Why is this guy telling me he's trying to work on his public speaking?
Plus the recession. What was I thinking? Well, I have tried to make it clear that I wasn't.
So I tell him what anybozo would say and I declare, "Alright then, I'll donate two books." I don't ask him any details, not about the trip, not about the books, not about the children's hospital, not about his fellow students, not about (most importantly) himself, and I merely declare, "Let me go get my checkbook!" As if I'm supersold on this idea and he hasn't even begun to expel any effort yet.
Meanwhile back at the ironing ranch, I go upstairs to retrieve my checkbook leaving that sun-blistered sop on the front porch with his stack of cajoling papers and my mother begins the biggest verbal eye roll of all time. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! I TOLD YOU TO SAY 'No, Thank You!' HE'S CLEARLY A SCAM ARTIST!!! DID HE GIVE YOU EVEN HALF A REASON TO BELIEVE ANYTHING HE'S SAYING?!? DON'T YOU THINK IN THIS ECONOMY PEOPLE WOULD DO ANYTHING TO MAKE SOME MONEY?! WHEN I FIRST CAME TO THIS COUNTRY, I FELL FOR EVERYTHING BUT I LEARNED THE HARD WAY, MOST DOOR-TO-DOOR PEOPLE ARE JUST TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU!!!!"
Instead of reacting, I just mused about whether she was including the Girl Scouts and their evil cookies in her damning diatribe seeing as how my sister and I were both, at one point, part of that famed, well-intentioned cult.
Then, in the time-honored tradition of mothers and daughters everywhere, I said, "LET ME HANDLE THIS. STOP BEING A BULLY. HE SAID [FAKE FAKE FAKE BLAH BLAH BLAH] SO IT'S FINE. IT'S FINE!!!" I even mimed a door slam for dramatic effect since I didn't actually have one to slam.
Then as if it was no big deal, I went and paid him. And thereby signed away my dignity and self-worth to make a fake book donation for a real children's hospital to somehow raise money for a fake student trip that this guy wasn't even going on, but was merely raising money for to improve his public speaking skills. Um.
I'd even buy a vacuum from a squirrel! I would!
photo courtesy of Flickr and kthypryn
The weird thing is the repair guy kind of got in the middle of our transaction because he had to check the door while I was writing a check and the scam artist was trying to look earnest and less sweaty, and in so doing, the repair guy gave the scam artist the evil eye-cold shoulder one-two punch combo.
Then my dad, one of the world's top 10 cynics, came over and asked the scam artist for the breakdown, and then chose to believe him also. In retrospect, I think he was trying to defend my shaky honor, but I'm too sheepish to ask for an official statement.
Anyhowser, as I held the fake receipt in my hand, which much to my delirious realization said in big letters on it "This company is in no way affiliated with any students, schools, fundraisers, or charities" and watched him walk away, an undisclosed amount richer (*shame game*), I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I would need to Google his "company."
And so I did. And, wouldja lookit that, it's a scam. In fact, a scam that's coming up on its 10-year anniversary! So really I was just paying tribute. Yeah, that's it. The things we tell ourselves to stay passably human...*goes off muttering and sputtering into the sunset*
Retrospective/introspective addendum: Why did I do it full well knowing that it was the fakest fake that ever barely existed? In all honesty, I can't quite say. One part genuine curiosity, two parts rebelling against mother figure, one part good-hearted gullibility, and one part incomprehensible disbelief. And I'd do it again! No sweat! Except the sweat on that guy's guilty mug. I mean, wow.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wire some money to Nigeria.
photo courtesy of Flickr and Mykl Roventine