Monday, November 8, 2010

The Case of the Wal-Mart Damsel

Today one of my roommates and I went to Wal-Mart in order to purchase some items with which to make a care package.  As we were parking a lady came and knocked on my car window.   We rolled down the window to discover that she was a woman in distress.

Apparently, the lady, named Phyllis was driving with her four children(two of them newborns, twins) when her can broke down on the interstate.  Phyllis had called 911, who called roadside assistance.  Then, roadside assistance brought her to the IHOP near Wal-Mart, but informed her that her car was not safe to drive home (her home was about an hour and a half away).  She said she called a couple of local Churches, the St. Vincent de Paul center, and the bus service, but could not find help.  Finally, she called a cab service, but she was short $16 and asked if my roommate and I would be willing to either find her a ride or just give her the $16.

My initial response was, it's only $16.  That's not very much money, right?  Certainly I can spare $16 to help someone in need.   But then it occurred to me that it might just be a scam.   And if the lady approaches 30 people in an hour and 1 in 3 people give her the $16, then in only 5 hours, that would be $800.  If it was a scam, it could certainly be a profitable one.  I asked the lady for her phone number and gave her mine, then I told her that I would get back to her after we got our groceries.

So, first things first, I called my mom.  She said she would not give the lady anything were she in my shoes.  Then my roommate called one of the churches that Phyllis claimed to have called.  They said that they hadn't heard anything of that nature, but if they had, they would only be able to help a parishioner as their funds were limited.  Still not convinced that it was a scam and wanting to help Phyllis if it wasn't,  I called the police department.

They sent an officer over to look into it.   The officer seemed to believe that it was a scam but agreed to take a look around the Wal-Mart and IHOP parking lots to make sure that she didn't need help.  In the end, I think that it turned out to be a scam, but either way if it hadn't been a scam, then the good officer would have helped Phyllis and goodness will be served!

That said, how would you have handled this situation?  I'm really interested to know.  =)


Libbs said...

Never give them anything.

The TORCH said...

I'd have given her the $16. In all of the times the Bible tells us to give to the poor, I never once recall reading that we need to verify their story first.