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There's an itinerant guy who comes around from time to time and offers to wash my windows. I'm both lazy and guilt-wracked, so though he does a crappy job and likes to hang out and tell more hard luck stories than I need to hear, I say yeah, okay, wash the windows, and I pay him something.

He disappeared for a long time, and showed up again a few weeks ago with more hard luck stories: deaths in the family, the need to take both of his children in a Greyhound bus all the way to Upstate New York where there was a small inheritance awaiting him. I helped him with his bus fare, though it was after dark and thus not a good hour for window-washing.

He just turned up again. This time he had a truly wonderful story--maybe I heard about it on the news, he embellished. Someone offered him a hundred bucks to wash their car, so he had taken it to his friend's hand carwash and there discovered two bodies in the trunk.

Holy shit, said I.

He called a halt to the presumably accessory-after-the-fact activities of scrubbing evidence, called 911, and...well, I lost track of the rest, but after that he was robbed of his car, his $4000, and his window-washing equipment. So I gave him a bucket, some rags, some detergent and rubbing alcohol, and the thirty bucks in my wallet, and he cleaned the outsides of my windows--which is actually a reasonable deal.

Next he needed to use my phone. I'm very leery of people needing to use my phone, so instead we arranged a quick charge of HIS phone. He made a couple of calls of the "Hey man, I'm in trouble" kind, then asked me for nine more dollars because there's only one Trailways bus going to Salem today, and he's living in Salem now, and the fare is $38.

I gave him the four singles I had left, mostly to hasten his departure.

Then, because eventually I do remember what it was like to have addicts in the family, I got online.
  • There have been no bodies found in car trunks in the Pacific Northwest in the last week (or, as near as I can tell, in the last couple of years)
  • Trailways doesn't seem to operate out of Portland anymore
  • There are five Greyhound buses a day between Portland and Salem, two of them later this evening
  • The fare from Portland to Salem is about $14
I know. I know. This is why I developed a Secret Family Knock on the front door--so that I don't get suckered into this stuff.

On the plus side, my windows are noticeably cleaner.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2010 03:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm from a family with a history of addiction. One thing I've learned, the more crazy the story, the less likely it is to be true. Or, if it IS true, the universe is trying to teach a lesson and I respect the universe's work and have a non-interference policy.

I dunno, though, that was a pretty good story anyway. And your windows got washed. Sounds like an okay deal to me. And it never hurts to be charitable. It's better to be too soft than too hard.
Sep. 4th, 2010 04:03 am (UTC)
Thank you for your words of wisdom. You are so right! I was feeling sheepish for being a pushover and an easy touch (and, frankly, the local wandering addict who has at least seen inside your house is not the most comfortable thing), but I dislike myself far more when I'm mean.
Sep. 4th, 2010 08:44 am (UTC)
I dislike myself far more when I'm mean.

Sep. 4th, 2010 08:35 am (UTC)
Eh, I got suckered into giving a total stranger with a hard luck story whom I met on the street money a couple of years ago; I mean, I offered them a space on my sofa for the weekend, after having failed to help them solve their supposed problems with sorting out their flight home after getting robbed of passport and money and blah blah blah, and was genuinely surprised when they ended up wanting to borrow money. I had a moment of "Oh, fuck, quite possibly a scam, actually" at that point, but still ended up giving them just shy of a hundred pounds. Which of course I never saw again. But I've BEEN that person, lost and alone and helpless in another country (sans mobile phone or internet or whatever) and had to depend on the kindness of strangers - and ended up staying in this woman's tiny apartment overnight, bless her. So I figured I kind of owed it to the universe not to wash my hands of the possibly-in-distress person.

Eh. I kind of admired the fact that she was apparently a random Australian in her late forties who was busy scamming her way around the world, actually. It was so RANDOM. And although I didn't have much money to spare, I *could* afford to lose that money that month without being unable to eat or pay my rent, so, you know, I was philosophical about it.

And, hey - you have cleaner windows! So that's good!
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
Great story! And thanks for the perspective. I make a sort of unconscious moralistic distinction between scamming your way around the world for fun and scamming for drug money (which is probably the case here), but as I consider it consciously, I'm not at all sure the distinction is valid.

I agree, there's something strangely admirable about the ability to do it.
Sep. 7th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
Wow. That's a lot of trouble and inventiveness to expend. When I was hungry and desperate, I'd've just washed your windows and looked thin and pale and hopeful.
Sep. 7th, 2010 07:43 am (UTC)
He does that, too. Poor guy.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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