Tuesday, 25 November 2008

You can't fool me twice

It was raining that night as I left the office at around 9.00pm. The traveling time from my office at Taman Setiawangsa to my house at Taman Melawati was only around 15 minutes.

I reached the roundabout that connected Keramat AU3 to the MRR and stopped at the traffic lights. From out of the car window I saw a man holding an umbrella walking towards me. He reached the driver's side of the car and tapped gently on the window. I rolled down the window but only a quarter of the way, just enough for me to see the man's face and hear what he has to say.

The man was perhaps in his late fifties and neatly dressed. He initially greeted me in Malay and then proceeded to tell me that his car broke down and he has run out of money to call for a tow-truck. He asked if I could help him by giving some cash.

The sceptic in me immediately doubted this story and I could've queried him on details. But he looked a decent enough old man and standing there in the rain made him look even more pitiful. As if to convince me further, he offered to take note of my address and send me back the money. This last part he spoke in fluent English.

I was already tired from a long day's work and was eager to get home. I therefore gave him the benefit of doubt and handed over some cash. No need to send it back, I said. He thanked me profusely and the appreciation in his eyes seemed genuine enough.

It did cross my mind that the man could be a trickster and that I've just been conned. On the other hand, I pictured myself in his situation... facing some misfortune somewhere and honestly hoping for a stranger's help. Is it not a kind thing to help a fellow human being in trouble?

In situations like these, I have a simple rule... if I do not wish to help by giving money, then just decline... no need to ask any questions. Otherwise, just hand out the cash and hope that I've done the right thing. If the guy is not telling the truth, then so be it. In such cases, I believe the money was not meant to be mine in the first place. Bukan hak saya tapi hak orang lain. This way, it helps keep my conscience clear... and more importantly, it makes me feel less a fool.

The above incident happened around 3 years ago when I was based in Kuala Lumpur. Fast forward to the present... last week to be exact.

I was again in Kuala Lumpur and on my way to visit a friend whose daughter had undergone surgery (see previous post). It was around 8.00 pm and the earlier heavy rain had slowed to a drizzle. I stopped at the traffic lights at the turn-off from MRR to Jalan Ampang, near Ampang Point.

From the corner of my eye, I saw someone approach my car and then gently tapping on the window. I wound down the window and an elderly Malay gentleman greeted me by giving the Salam. He then told the story of how his car had broken down and he has run out of cash. Could I help him by donating some?

It was when the old man spoke in fluent English that I realised he was the same person who asked me for money three years ago...

"I'm on my way to home to Seremban when my car broke down," he said, "and I don't know anybody here in KL. Can you help me please."

What the f@*#! It's the same bloke I `helped' three years ago! By trying to sell the same story, it confirms that he's trying to con me.

I slowly wound up the car window and ignored the conman. He continued to tap on the window and buat muka kesian. The traffic lights changed to green and I drove off.

I wound up the car window not because I was afraid to tell him off, but rather to prevent things from getting ugly. Otherwise I might have reached out, grabbed him by the shirt collar and shout out a few profanities. Not a nice thing to do to a senior citizen.

As I drove away, the incident of three years ago played again in my mind. What are the chances of the same conman trying to play the same trick twice on the same person, three years apart? Not very likely, right? As the English saying goes... Fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me.

Here's something else for you to ponder... If the conman works for about two hours that night, he could probably try to pull the trick on about 20 drivers. If we assume a 50% success rate and each kind-hearted driver coughs out RM10, then the trickster would end up with RM100. Not bad for a day's taking based solely on selling a sob story.

And so, my friends... if your are driving in the Keramat AU, Ampang or maybe even the Melawati areas and a stranger comes up to you pleading for help because his car broke down, you know what to do.

18 comments:

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Oldstock
Raining and 9pm, in that area? I wouldn't even dare wind down the window the first time around!

Chahya said...

Tq for the reminder Oldstock.

You're right, when we know that what we did in the first place is done in honesty, we'd feel less like a fool and I believe Gracious God wouldnt let that deed pass unnoticed.

Just like u, I'd give that person the benefit of the doubt too. (Kalau semua org takut nak percaya, susahlah org yg dlm susah kan?) Thought I've read a hadis saying that for every prasangka ada dosa. Kita hanya jaga kita punya hablumminannas and hablumminnallah. If the person has evil intentions, then he has sinned to both the person he conned and God. And it's a lesson meant for us to learn, so that pisang tak berbuah 2 kali. Like u said, perhaps that amount of money ada hak org lain.

Rumah kata pergi, kubur kata mari...U agak2 bila pakcik tu nak tobat eh :P
Ok juga if u dapat basuh that day...iskk

Jarod said...

Sir, I encounter too much of this! Young girls are also part of it. But, I am more wise! Mau wang, pigi Balai Polis suruh dia orang bantu.

It is just too much to con even with his age.

VersedAnggerik said...

Ganazzznya! Dah tiga tahun buat bende yang sama eh?

Some people just dunno when to stop yek?

D said...

urgh... yeah, how i wish you had given him a piece! heheh... tak pe, habuannya LEBIH dari tu nanti. just you wait, 'ol man, just you wait.

hanitha said...

salam bro, dkt ngan ampang point?? kat ngan my opis tu..but, he only operates at nite so i'm safe la..coz sharp 5.30pm, i ciao cin cao,umah time lak ehehehe, insyaALLAH selamat. aper2 pon, i mcm fauziah, sori la nk turunkn tingkap..bukan prasangka tp berjaga2 tuk keselamatan diri. skrg nie, manusia byk yg pura2 baik..nauzubillah. take care all..

Oldstock said...

Salam Fauziah,

For you ladies, it's better not to take heed of any stranger's approach. For safety's sake. Better to be safe than be sorry.

Oldstock said...

Chahya,

Yes, you're right. I don't like to be prejudiced based on appearances alone. That's why I always give people like these one chance.

Kalau dia nak tipu pun, itu antara dia dengan tuhan. Ini berlaku kat Malaysia. Kat tanah suci pun ada orang yang menipu macam ni. Maybe I'll tell that story in another post.

Oldstock said...

Jarod,

People like these have it in their blood. As they grow older, they never seem to want to repent. Cheating is second nature to them.

But then the world is divided into black and white, and everything else in between. Where there are angels, there are devils too.

Oldstock said...

Verse,

Orang macam ni memang susah nak tobat... sebab dia rasa mudah sangat nak dapat duit dengan cara menipu.

People in general, are kind-hearted. That's why tricksters and conmen survive and prosper.

Oldstock said...

Relax D,

He'll get his payback soon enough. Tuhan tu kan maha kaya dan maha adil.

Having said that, it still does not take the anger away if we are the victim of a con-job, right? So the way to face it to clear our conscience and let it pass. As I said, the money was not meant to be ours in the first place.

Oldstock said...

Salam Hanitha,

You keje kat kawasan Ampang Point ke? Wah, dah dekat tu. Mungkin I dah pernah selisih dengan you tapi tak kenal, heheheh... :-)

HLiza said...

Oh my..there's a whole bunch of them in the whole of Malaysia! I remembered being approached by a decent-looking old man 3 years ago in Ipoh one day during fasting month. He looked so embarassed that he had to beg some money; his motorbike broke down, wife warded in GH..phone stolen..and he's from a rural area. I only had a choice of $50 note or $5 at that time. I felt guilty having to give him $5, considering it might not be enough to settle his problem! And few months after that I bumped into him again in Jusco. When he approached me this time, I dared thinking he wanted to thank me for the other day. Huh..and imagine how I feel when he started saying the same story again! I feel like dragging a policeman to handcuff with straight away.

And then there's another old makcik who cried at the parking lot in GH..saying she's from Teluk Intan..no money now to go back since the kids just left her alone there after seeing doctor. I even gave the exact bus fare and offered tissue to wipe off her tears. And you know what..since I have many customers in GH, I meet her again for the 10th time every time after that and she didn't remember at all she had done the same old trick to me.

Are these people insane or are they from a kind of network?

Patricia said...

Oldstock!

This is too freaky! Imagine having the same guy trying to con you a second time - but 3 years apart!

I salute your winding up the window. Why descend to his level and lose yourself to violence or profanity!

The money you gave the first time, let that be your good deed for the day.

How sick to think that someone who's perfectly fine would rather do something like this, than get a decent job and earn an honest - halal? - living!

Pat

snakebite said...

same thing happened to me, a middle age guy, looks decent, approached me after i've drawn some money from the ATM. car out of petrol,card rosak cannot draw money, that was his story. i gave him some cash,he even asked for my phone no to pay me back. i said takpe leh. few days later i went to the same ATM, saw the same guy telling the same story to someone else. i intervened, said to the the other guy, bang dia ni penipu, dulu dia buat citer yg sama kat saya.the conman suddenly become aggressive shouted and grab my arms trying tp pull me away from there. i was about to punch him when he let go. he went off still shouting at me. i can only remember him saying as he walks away" pegi balai polis la...buat la repot.." the man's face is a little like Abon the comedian but he is bulat n pendek skit.

Oldstock said...

Hliza,

Your experience shows that even women carry out such tricks. They continue to do so repeatedly because they don't care if they are caught. If they meet someone they've tricked before, they just move on... there are more than enough new people that they meet.

Oldstock said...

Pat,

The world is full of lazy people who just wants easy money. And these lazy people survive because the world is full of kind-hearted people too.

Oldstock said...

Snakebite,

You should let us know which particular ATM so that we can watch out for him.... heheheh.

That's what I hate about these guys, they are so cocky.

Your story reminded me of another incident a long time ago. Not about a conman but about a teenage Malay boy, maybe around 15 years old. My family and I were eating at McD in a shopping mall in JB. This young punk came over to our table and asked if he could have some money to buy something to eat. I said, what do you want to eat, I'll buy it for you.

He said he didn't want to eat at MCD, just give him money. I said no. As he walked away, he muttered some `kurang ajar' words. I stood up at looked at him. He was some distance away and turned round and made an obscene gesture. Wrong move.

I immediate broke into a run and chased him. He ran out of the mall but I caught up with him. I grabbed him by the arm but I did not hit him. I just shouted out a string of choice words. I was very loud was causing a scene but I didn't care. The boy had really bad manners and I was really pissed off.

The punk was crying by the time I let him go. I'm not sure if my telling him off made any difference but it made me feel good...