When was that first time you saw a scam or ripoff? That first time the rock was lifted up and you saw that dark potential of human nature squiggling and squirming underneath? Mine was on the steps of the Met in New York City.
I was about 5, there with my parents taking in a day at the museum. Before we went in I saw a man standing on the steps. He was waving around on his crutches, loudly begging for change and help. He face was a contortion of pain and need. I asked my parents if we could give him money and they said no, that it wasn’t a good idea. That made me feel bad. Later at lunch I chewed my grilled cheese sandwich pensively and wondered why we couldn’t help him.
At the end of the day we went to get on the subway and after passing through the turnstile I spied the same guy from the steps in front of the ticket agent. They were laughing it up together. He had both his crutches carried longways under one arm, like the prop that they were. He must have felt my beady little eyes boring into him because he turned and we made eye contact and his laugh caught in his throat for a moment.
From that day forward I decided I would one day start a consumer blog exposing scams and ripoffs. Kidding! But it was a formative experience that I still think back to sometimes. Just because someone makes you feel bad at first doesn’t mean they’re really in need.
What was the first scam you ever saw? Sound off in the comments.