Thursday, June 29, 2006

"We need to get our friend to CHEO, her child is being airlifted out of there in the next 20 minutes!"

Today after dinner at Boston Pizza (Jade's favorite place) I headed down to 100 Bronson to pick up a colleague for an evening of music at the Black Sheep Inn. We were going to see my guitar buddy Pat play a set. It was 7:20 pm and I was doing a 3 point turn in front of the Juliana building when this frantic couple flagged me down. They looked like lost tourists to me. So, I stopped kinda in the middle of the street and rolled down my window half-way. They asked me if I was lost, and I shook my head no, and told them I was just pulling in here to wait for someone. Then they both started blabbering at once, and I'm sitting there, checking out all the traffic I'm blocking in my rearview mirror and thinking "Did I hear that right? What the hell did they just say?".

I think the guy started with..

"Excuse me, I feel horrible to involve you in this but we're from Orillia and we're seven people traveling together staying at the Raddison and our friend's child is being airlifted out of CHEO, it's a terrible emergency we need to get her and her kids there in 20 minutes and we've lost our luggage and Blue line can send us a 7 passenger van but it costs $70 and all we have is $32 and these two bags of chips to our name.. Can you possibly help us?" He spoke calmly enough but had a rather frantic look about him. The woman kept saying:
"We're going to need two car seats! We're going to need two car seats!"

So I ask "How many kids?" all the while contemplating how I could take two kids (I had two car seats installed) and maybe one of these frantic people and the parent or guardians of these kids, , call 911 on the way to relay details and man I hope the kid doesn't puke in my truck on the way to CHEO, and just catch up to my music evening when it was all over. I'd hate to be in a situation like this, man, I'll help any way I can...

- then something occurred to me.. Why did he ask if I was lost at first? Did he call 911? Why is he holding two half-eaten bag of chips if this is a big freakin emergency? Where are the 5 other people? Airlifted? So one kid is at the hopital already with no parent? What the Fuck? So I say to the guy. "Can you hold on a sec, I'm blocking traffic I'll help you but I'm just going to pull over here first.." And I thought about what questions I was going to ask him next in the 7 seconds it took to do that. It also occurred to me how close to the downtown core I was...

So they run over to the sidewalk where I pull over, and the guy is practically climbing into my truck, but the door is locked.. So I ask him through the halfway rolled down window.

"Can you start at the beginning?" And he goes "We need to get to the hospital right away, our friend's child is there, a Helicopter is waiting for her!" He is dead serious. I'm inclined to believe him right there and then.

"Did you call 911?"
"Yes they were already here, look we're running out of time! We need to get 7 people to CHEO NOW!" And the woman behind him starts wailing..

And I asked my question.
"What would you like me to do to help you out right this second?"

And waited for the answer. If it was "drive us!" then he might be telling the truth (or about to car-jack me) but instead, he says:

"Do you have any money you can lend us? We'll wire it right back to you!" Ok.. That's it.. Freakin' a-hole.. Wrong friggin answer!

I ask him, kinda cop-like (they way they say it when they ask me - hehehhe)
"Do you have any Identification? like a driver's license?"
"Yes, back at the hotel, the Raddison, just up the street here!"
"Good, go get it and if you show me some identification I will help you"
"There's no time for that!"
"I will be here for 10 minutes, if you come back with some ID, I'll gladly help you.."

And that did it. The woman stops crying and grabs the guy and blurts out, "No forget it, we just had a stupid bet just to see if we could get any money out of you, that's all..." and walks away, pulling the guy with her. The guy was mad at her then, because he was still going to try and work me some more, and who knows. That guy.. was not just good.. he was fucking INCREDIBLE! He didn't look like a drunk, he didn't look homeless, he did not look like a grifter (the good ones never do I guess). He Almost sucked me in. If she hadn't blown it for him just then, who knows what he would have done, magically produced a fake driver's license? "Ohh, it's in my pants after all!" We'd play 20 questions again, it could have been interesting, but no. It was over. I felt like telling him that. If he wanted this to work he should get a better accomplice that didn't bail on him like that. Thing is, I didn't pay attention to her at all. I was just focused on him, and he was the one who was good at it. I'll have to remember that for next time, to pay closer attention to the one who isn't doing the talking.

My first instinct is to help people, but I'm helpful, not stupid. The other thing I was kinda waiting for was for my work colleague show up and maybe identify the guy, to see if he was a street person who regularly worked this corner with that schtick, but he arrived a minute after she pulled him away. I had snapped a picture but they were pretty far away.

So as I'm parked there, telling him the story (we were waiting for his buddy to call him back on his cell to see if we were picking up another guy to see the Black Sheep show) the con man suddenly gets out of a cab in front of us ( I guess they flagged it up the block and rode it down here and asked it to pull over or something ) and walks up to my side of the truck and asks:

"So are you gonna help us or not?"

Is this guy incredible or what? So the first thing that came to my mind to say was:

"Are you outta your fucking tree?"

He turned and shook his head and went to get back in the cab in front, probably about to stiff the cabbie big-time later (I should have warned him) when I realized I needed a better picture for my Blog.

"Wait!" I said.. and pulled my camera back out of my bag..

He looked up

"Come back.. I need a picture of you for my blog!

He ducked into the cab.

"C'mon, I'll give you $10 bucks!" (hehehehe yeah, I'll wire it to ya buddy!"

He stuck his head out, I snapped the picture, looked at the LCD screen of my Nikkon Coolpix 5000 and it said "Warning - Remove lens cap..." Stupid camera..


1 comment:

Mark said...

I had a couple try to run this same scam on me in front of the IKEA on Greenbank last fall. I wonder if it was the same crew because they used an almost identical story and it sounds as though they looked very similar...not a deadbeat, just a regular-looking guy.

Must get some people to fall for it if they are still trying to run it now...