Monday, December 20, 2010

To the woman who gypped me of my grandma's christmas money,

I knew from the second you began your rambling, detailed story that the chances of it actually being true were slim to none. A combination of common sense & intuition led me to sense that something about it all was not right.

But still, there I stood, nodding and listening as the rain poured down on you.

After "exchanging numbers," I had you look me in the eye and confirm that you were being genuine, though even then, I sensed--I knew--that the number was fake and that "genuine," you were not.

But still, there I stood, opening my journal & taking the crisp $50 bill out of its envelope.

I put it into your open palm as you gasped with relief and gratitude. You shook my hand to thank me, but I gave you a hug and wished you luck with everything. As I crossed the street, the foolishness of what I'd just done started to hit me. Why did I give you the money when from the beginning, I knew you were lying? Why did I play along and exhibit empathy for you? I think part of me wanted to believe your story, even though it couldn't have been a more obvious scam. I think part of me wanted to help you because you seemed so desperate, so strung out.

And it's strange. Yesterday, as I walked away, I calmly admitted the mistake to myself, recognizing what had just transpired as a life lesson I needed to learn. However, today, after I called your "number" and felt the full reality of the situation wash over me, I started to cry--and not because I would never get the money back. No. I could care less about the money. I cried for you and the many other troubled people who behave like you do on a daily basis. I cried as I understood the lesson I needed to learn: I can't always give people the benefit of the doubt, and I'm not going to be able to help everyone I meet along this journey; in some cases, it's necessary to say no and walk away. At times, there really is such a thing as being too nice.

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