Strange Happening

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Yesterday I did a bit of browsing with thank you while J was doing her comm svc. It was dark and quite cold when we left Walmart to go get her.

    A woman approached us in the parking lot. She had a large plastic laundry hamper filled with bags and it seemed heavy from the way she was dragging it. She asked if we could help. I thought she wanted help lifting it into a car or something. She wanted me to drive her home.

    I almost NEVER get bad feelings from people. It wasn't the woman's ethnicity (she looked like she was from India or Pakistan - we have a HUGE international community because the univ is a top agricultural school) and that rarely even registers anymore. It wasn't her size as she was smaller than I am. I have NO clue why alarm bells rang in my head but I listened to them.

    Part of me wondered why someone would go and buy a lot at a store if they couldn't get it home. Most ofme just anted to get AWAY from her in a hurry. I told her we couldn't give her a ride because we were late picking up my daughter.

    She then stood behind my car so that I would have to run over her to get out of the parking space. I tapped the breaks several times and was ready to either start honking the horn or to turn the car off and go back inside to get security.

    While this is the holiday season and we want to think the best of others, it is time to remember that not everyone has good intentions. Please be careful as scam artists and criminals are in every community and with all the pre and post holiday shopping it is a time with an increased crime rate.

    thank you and I did have a good chat about giving rides to strangers, helping strangers, and always listening to that little voice in your head that says NO! even when you might otherwise be inclined to help and/or you can see no apparent threat.

    I truly think that either this woman had someone waiting to steal from us or hurt us when we dropped ehr off, or she would steal or she had some other motive that was unsavory. Esp because our police dept issued warnings of a similar thing leading to crimes and false insurance claims and lawsuits being an increased problem lately. I didn't know about this before. I saw it online earlier today when I thought of this and wondered if I should have notified the police or Walmart mgmt.

    Be esp careful if your kids are with you. I always feel that if I am alone then I can take responsibility if I make a choice to give someone a ride in a situation where they need help, but I don't have the right to endanger my kids by doing that. They have been taught since very early ages that if you see a motorist in trouble you go to the nearest phone or the first place you have a signal to call and send help to them, but you do NOT normally stop to help yourself.
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You were right to listen to that alarm in your head. It certainly sounds like it could have been a setup. I couldn't help but think as you were loading her bags someone would come up behind you.
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    She may have just been a little nutty, but it got very weird when she just stood behind your car. The thing is, you don't really know if she was a harmless, slightly nutty woman, or if she was up to no good. How could you? It is bizarre for her to put anyone in that position.
    You did the right thing. A car is your personal space, just like your home - at least that's the way I think of it. For a complete stranger to want to breach that space, when it wasn't an obvious emergency - then you did the right thing to refuse.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know that is strange. That reminds me of a time I made a huge mistake in a similar situation. It could have turned out really badly for me but luckily I had Billy with me so I think that made the guy decide not to do but so much. This guy came up to me at a McDonalds and gave me this huge sob story about how he had messed up and taken his grandmom's car out and the tire went flat and he needed to get enough money to buy a can of fix a flat. For some reason the kid reminded me of Cory and I fell for it. I didnt give him the money like he wanted me to because I didnt quite trust the story completely but I took him over to the grocery store and went in to buy the can. Well he went in with me but when I went to pick up the can he told me that wasnt the right type for his car. Well I dont think they make different types for different cars so my antenna's went up and I told him that was all they had on the shelf. He said well just give him the money and he would get it the next morning at the auto parts store. I said no, I didnt have cash I was gonna have to put it on my card. He kept asking me to just take the money off my card and such. I refused. Finally he gave up and asked me to take him to his home. Stupidly I did. When I let him out on his corner I knew he was not gonna use the money for anything other than drugs. Im lucky he didnt have a weapon on him.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Listening to that voice is the smartest thing you can ever do. I don't give a hoot how "innocent" the situation/person might appear. If that voice has been triggered, that nagging uneasy feeling set off, then it is for good reason.

    Even if my instinct hadn't been triggered in this situation, I'd not have given her a ride. Not to be mean but please, if you're walking you just don't buy so much you can't carry it home. That's just stupid. Once of being forced to do so usually is enough to cure such stupidity. Nor is it too bright to be asking rides from strangers in the first place. Some folks really need such lessons to educate them. And I'm one to normally help out someone if I can. However rides are not one of the ways I help, not unless I know the person. It's just not worth the risk.

    I'm gonna bet this was a set up. The whole standing behind your car was part of that set up. You were supposed to feel guilty and change your mind. Only you didn't.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Lisa, that is EXACTLY what I thought. Why would you buy all that stuff if you couldn't get it home? The hamper was quite heavy. I started to lift it when I thought she just needed help putting it in her car. After I refused to help her and went around her to my car, she pulled out an iphone and called someone. No clue what she said, as it wasn't English, but the iphone made me wonder. thank you confirmed my suspicions that it was an iphone (he has been around them because he has quite a few classmates who have them) and we both wondered if she could afford that, how come she couldn't afford a taxi or to wait for a friend to give her a ride? It isn't like Walmart closes and she would have to wait outside.

    I pointed out to thank you that she put herself in danger by asking a stranger for a ride, that it was idiotic to buy stuff you cannot carry if you are not driving or getting a ride or the bus. When she stood behind the car t even set off thank you's internal warning that somethng wasn't right (we talked after we got into the car and away from her).

    It did provide a great "teachable moment" for thank you and I to discuss helping strangers, asking for help from strangers (and don't any of you say there isn't anyone stranger than me, cause there IS. I call him husband.), and listening to that warning voice even when it seems silly.
  7. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    My kids laugh at me but I always try to park where I can just pull out and not have to back out.

    This type of thing is scary. A few months ago, a young man approached me as I stood in line to get lunch near the court house. It's not a great area but it's safe enough in daytime because of police, court officers and many people being around. I told the clerk to ring up 2 slices and a soda for the guy and put it on my tab. He got very huffy and said I should just give him cash because he preferred McDonald's! At that point, the clerks threw him out. I was still nervous when I left and looked over my shoulder the entire way to the train.

    I very rarely go to the mall anymore and never at night or alone. Part of it is that I don't like to drive that much and part of it is fear.

    I think your instincts were right on.
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I had a woman ask me for gas money in a parking lot. She said she just need a few dollars so she could get gas. This was several months ago and I was in a hurry and had no cash whatsoever. I told her I was sorry that I could not help her at the moment. Funny thing is just a few weeks ago, in the same parking lot, the same woman came up to me and asked me for gas money. I told her no way and I was glad I did not give it to her the first time she asked me. It is a good scam though. She pulled at my heart for sure...the first time anyway.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Isnt it awful that people have to scam? There are times people are genuinely down on their luck and could really use a hand up. There are times that someone might need to ask a stranger for a few dollars for gas because they forgot their wallet or something. It could happen. But because so many people are scamming people no one trusts anyone anymore. I know we have these people who sit on the corner where people get off the interstate saying Hungry, need food. But all they want is money to go buy liquor or drugs. When I worked at DSS we would go buy them a hamburger and they would feed it to their dog. Irritated me no end. I have seen the same guy sitting on the side of the road up in fayetteville with a sign saying he is waiting on his disability to come in for the last 6 years! Guess what dude...either it has come in or it isnt gonna. Stop begging. I bet he makes more than most of us do. Someone once did a survey of what people who do those panhandling things at the side of the roads get as donations...and they bring in anywhere from $150 to $200 a day! That is a lot of tax free income.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I totally agree. Listen to your gut.

    And it was, indeed, a teachable moment.

    I am so glad you are okay and that you didn't "help" her. That is not normal behavior on her part. I would have reported it to Walmart, too.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You would likely be SHOCKED at what those people who sit there with signs saying they are hungry end up getting. Back in the early 90's when I was in college in TX, some grad students in sociology that were friends of mine took a semester off of work to do this. It was for their dissertations on the effects of panhandling as a lifestyle and on society in general. They only did this from Aug through Dec and extrapolated out to a year's income they made over $40,000 EACH. They still went to classes that they had to, still did things with friends, only panhandled for forty hrs per week, and they were truly amazed at how much more they made in cash than when they were working as grad assistants or in other common jobs. They also got really nice food from people (often people went and bought meals just for them from nice restaurants in the area they panhandled), clothing, even toiletries were handed to them regularly.
  12. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    There are benefits to small town life. Scams around here don't last very long, word gets out fast.

    Susie this is going to sound awful, but I'm actually relieved to hear those sociology students did so well. It helps pull up my view of mankind, which lately has been sitting mostly in the gutter. Obviously there are more kind hearted people than we ever hear about or else they'd not have done so well. (yes, I'm choosing to look at the more positive side of it)

    With the bad economy although we're a small town we've started having the occasional pan handler. They range from the person hoping for work (the majority) to those asking for whatever can be spared to help pay bills whatever. Often there is an explanation on their sign. Such scams wouldn't go on very long here......too many people know each other, to include most likely their whole life story. So we're still at the point take them at their word. I have given when I've had the money to do so. I've seen easy child do it. I think the other two kids have as well. Most of the time these are people who have fallen through the cracks. People with once high paying jobs who are trying to meet bills on minimum wage or whatever.....just above the line for food stamps. We have a LOT of these people by the way.

    I've had the once in a blue moon person needing a couple bucks to fill up until they could get home. Once or twice I could do it with a gas can if I was home.

    Depending on the situation (whether any red flags have gone up) I'd do it no matter the risk of it being used for other than what they say. Why? Because you just can't possibly know, and there by the grace of God go I. I'd hope that should I ever find myself in such a position there would be some kind person to lend a helping hand.

    Let a red flag go up? FORGET IT! At that point all bets are off and I keep to myself.

    We had that with a family house fire here. A group started up to help them. As time went on (wasn't even a long period of time) folks started figuring out that the family was trying to milk it for everything it was hotel rooms, best places to live, ect. Folks shut it down fast. Dunno what happened to that family. They might be sitting in the homeless shelter waiting for a HUD apartment to open up. I had to chuckle because it was Nichole that called the groups attention to the fact the family was trying to bleed people for all they could get out of them. They won't be finding people so generous in the future. Small town people have very long memories.
  13. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    There is a scam I heard about where an able-bodied man dresses up like an old woman with a heavy bag/purse and begs strangers for rides.

    Once inside the car, the man clubs the do-gooder with whatever is in his bag, takes the car, the wallet, and whatever other valuables and shoves the driver out on the side of the road.

    NEVER give a strange "little old lady" a ride....

    In this area, the biggest scam at the moment is "getting hit by a car". People will loiter near intersections, and as traffic slows down they step out in front of your vehicle. Then you've "hit" them - so they demand money in exchange for not pressing charges.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I've heard of those ones Daisy.

    You know if some of these people put as much effort into real work as they did scams they'd most likely do extremely well for themselves without all the issues.
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I had a car actually back into my lightly at a stop sign then claim I ran into them. As you know most of the time anytime you rear end a car it is automatically your fault. This other car had a whole bunch of people in it including a pregnant woman. This was back before cell phones were popular. I think it may have been in 91. I flagged down a passing car and got them to call a cop and refused to move my car. I was way back from the stop sign. I always stop way back from the car ahead of me. In order for me to have hit that car they would have had to stop a good 10 to 15 feet back from the stop sign which would have meant they couldnt even have seen around it to view oncoming traffic. Also I had an automatic car and they had a manual car. My call wouldnt roll forward like they said it did. It was obvious to the police that the car in front had rolled backwards into my car because there was no damage to my car at all and the only damage to theirs was a scratch. The passengers claimed all kinds of injuries but refused to have an ambulance come or to go to the hospital. I followed them after we left and I happened to have a camera in my glove compartment - something my insurance company had told me to have in case of any accidents - and I took pictures of them as they laughed and high fived each other as they walked into Walmart. I followed them in and snapped a few pictures and they picked up a few heavy items. I spent the rest of the day following them around town. Never once did they go to the hospital. Later that evening I called my insurance company and told them what happened and I also told them I had these pictures. I made double copies and sent them one set. About a year or so later these people tried to file a claim and they were laughed at. They said they had gone to the hospital that day and oh they were in such pain they went straight home. Nope. I had them on camera.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You rock, Janet. I bet they were astounded to find out you not only had photos, you had already sent them to the ins co. I hate people who do koi like that. Have to laugh because exsil created a similar 'accident' with someone I know. I warned them about her and they got photos showing zero pain over the month after the 'accident'. The truly ironic thing? She caused serious damage to her back when she caused this 'accident' but it didn't show up for several weeks after the accident. her doctor proved that it was from this event, but she got zero money because they had a lot of photos showing no pain at all and a video of her laughing about this 'accident' with a friend while at a restaurant. Booths can be very handy because people tend to feel they are in a private area, lol. Well, exsil always did anyway.

    Odd with this topic being here, but it reminds me of being out with Wiz the morning before Christmas when he was seven or eight. We lived in Cincy and were going to a friend's house. We saw a man with a sign asking for food or a job. I rolled the window down and gave him the big bag of powdered sugar donuts we had gotten to take to my friend's house. Wiz was so tickled at being able to help someone on Christmas Eve because Santa would have to put him on the nice list for doing it. Of course we did have to stop for another bag of donuts, but that was beside the point, lol.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Back when I was a teenager a little old lady (who was probably younger than I am came up to me and asked me for a ride. Seriously! Being very young and very kind on top of naive at age 18, I gave her a ride. I saw her about a month later and she fairly ran to me and asked me for a ride again. I was more skeptical this time, but I did it. A little while later, I saw her wandering around in a parking lot and knew she'd ask me for a ride again if she saw me. I didn't want to say no so I just drove off quickly. I saw her several times and a few times she was chatting with people and I just knew she was asking them for rides. It's amazing what gall some people have. I guess she didn't want to call a cab or even ride the bus. This was in Chicago so there were plenty of buses and the bus was cheap back in the day. I avoided her from then on and learned that people will take advantage of naive, trusting and well meaning people.

    Now when I do somebody a favor (I HAVE given food to people who claim to be homeless, for example) I am well aware that it may be a scam, but at least I know now that I meant well even if the other person didn't. I would not let a stranger in my car now that I'm older and wiser. Susie, you handled it very well. It isn't worth taking any chances.
  18. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have only one time EVER stopped to give someone a ride. I ended up taking them home and having htem stay at my parents' for the night (we lived with my folks then). I still get xmas cards from them. It was a little old man and woman and a big vehicle with a uhaul. It was Sept and super hot here and I didn't think they had any water. They were at the ONE stretch of highway that has no cell reception so I knew they couldn't call for help. I just had a feeling, so I stopped to help. They were helping their adult son and his teenage son move to Kansas after being out of work in TX for a year. they lived in TX, son was moving. Son had gone ahead to find help when their truck broke down, and they didn't know where to take the car to get fixed. I sent them to a reliable service station where I know the owners and mechanics, and then when the hotels were all full and they were going to sleep in a park, my parents offered to let them have the pullout sofa. Their son and his son slept in the truck that worked, their choice. They even tried to pay us after they got up and found I had homemade pancakes hot and ready. They were and are the sweetest people. I just kept thinking when I saw them that I would want someone to help if my grandparents were stuck that way.

    I try to always listen to that voice that is my gut instinct, even when it doesn't make sense right away. Usually it right. This time I was able to help thank you learn to trust that voice too. Of all the life lessons, that is one of the most important, in my opinion.