The day I had to beg
I was reflecting the other day about how people tend to add more details to stories and explanations when they are lying. It is as if we think that by adding what kind of soup you were picking up for your Grandma will be the final bit of information needed to convince the other party that your excuse is genuine. Any time somebody does add this kind of detail, a pleading element is introduced, begging for the recipient to just accept the lie and move on. So anytime I am about to craft a tiny enhanced version of the truth I make sure to keep it brief. And, moreover anytime someone goes into a long-winded explanation about something, I mildly tune out, immediately accepting the statement as false.
Then I recalled a particular instance, which mildly debunks this theory. It was early spring, before I had moved into the city and I was racing to Grand Central for an early morning train to CT after crashing at a friend’s the night before. I was hosting a Mother Daughter cocktail party that evening and I NEEDED to make this train in order to make a bevy of appointments and errands I had arranged prior to the event. I arrived to the terminal essentially profusely sweating, sporting a minor upgrade from pajamas, and a head of hair that looked days un-brushed, with barely five minutes until the train’s departure, when I realized I am without the wallet that houses my money, credit cards, and train ticket.
I was at a junction where I could take one of two paths. I could either accept that I would miss my train and delay my day by a few hours or alternatively I could ask for help. I decided to ask for help. I hadn’t exactly gazed in a mirror, but I am fairly certain I was a site for exceptionally sore eyes. But I am a nice girl and I think I look pretty honest so I asked the first man I saw if I could perhaps borrow 3 dollars due to the fact that I only had 8 dollars in my pocket and I just needed three more to make my fare home to see my family.
I mean… it’s pretty much a textbook example from the panhandling handbook, but I continued on to explain that I had been staying with a friend and forgotten my wallet. As if adding these additional tidbits made me more human and less… insane. I saw the man look me up and down and hold up a hand to stop me. He gave me the money, more to shut me up than anything else, and when I asked for his address to send him the money he declined in a way that clearly indicated that he thought I would murder his family and pillage his home if I had my hands on that piece of information
When the janitorial staff of Grand Central think you are a street dweller it is a slight blow to one’s ego, however seeing that kind of fear in a complete stranger’s eyes is quite thought inspiring. All of these times when folks have just needed a few more dollars for bus fare to get home to see their families or get a little gas for the broken down car, or to get a metro card, maybe that is all they really did need. I still don’t give money to people when they spin the kind of tale I did, but I guess I should think twice, considering I still owe $3 to the karma pool.