OK, I get the message . . . like:
“A fool and his money are soon parted.”
More to the point, that was in three of several e-mails I got following Wednesday’s column . . .
I think I
However, several of you were a bit kinder, even passing along some of your stories as a “fool” who stopped to listen to a sad, sad tale.
But a quick “intermission” is needed here . . .
If you came in late, the “hustle” I fell for occurred at the Farmer’s Market behind the county administrative building back on Saturday, August 7.
To cut the hustle story short, stopping in to pay for some tomatoes, a woman (I’m not using the word “lady” here) hit me with teary eyes and a tale of needing $20 to get to Huntsville. She said her mother and father had been killed in a car wreck the day before and she was broke.
Nothing in her story checked out. And I did check, looking at newspaper obits and accident reports for several days across northern Alabama. I even called a funeral home or two.
With that said, it’s back to a couple of the “fools” who expressed kinship with my “hustle” by relating stories of their own.
One came from Shelton Phillips, who lives out at Hebron and once drove big 18-wheelers coast-to-coast.
On one haul to Los Angeles, he and his partner pulled into a rest stop in Arizona. Shelton’s e-mail, in part:
“There was a man and his wife there with three little kids. . . said they were on their way to California . . . that his father had died and they were trying to get to the funeral . . . had run out of money and did not have enough for food nor fuel . . . we each gave them $20 and wished them well.”
The rest of the story?
On the way back, Shelton and his partner stopped at another rest stop in Arizona, this one perched alongside the eastbound lane of the Interstate. And yep, there was the same couple, same three little kids.
Seems this time the man’s father had died in Texas and the funeral was like in Dallas or Ft. Worth. Shelton isn’t sure on the town, but he got a big laugh when I mentioned maybe there had been a “resurrection” in California and the guy had flown to Texas and died a second time.
Hey, you got a good gig going, hang in there.
There were other stories, but the one I’ll never forget was not a “hustle” at all, just a beggar with a honest “hook.”
It was four, maybe fives years back and we were in San Francisco, heading to Fisherman’s Wharf for raw oysters (me, anyway).
Sitting cross-legged at the entrance to the wharf was this guy in dirty khaki pants and a short-sleeved blue shirt that looked worse than his pants.
He was a week past due for a shave, his hair hadn’t seen a comb in a week. His face was decorated with scratches and a couple of bruises.
The sign he was holding stopped me cold. It read . . .
I Need A Beer
He got $5 from me and I gotta admit I was a cheerful giver.
A good guess is the guy made a nice living by just being honest.
I know he had more “character” than the woman at the farmer’s market or the guy in Arizona who was using his kids to make a fool out of fools like me.
I don’t regret the five . . . and, strangely enough, I don’t feel all that bad about the tenner, either.
Have a nice day . . .
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.