jetsetgreen

Monday, January 14, 2008

I’ve Been Hit Up Lately

Not hit on, hit up, those prepositions can be so tricky.


I got a phone call today from someone soliciting money for a cause. I was struck by the lackadaisical tone my solicitor employed trying to convince me to give her money. I had to applaud her almost deadpan delivery; it was a choice that clearly went hand in hand with fighting cancer (which, judging by her delivery, is a losing battle, so why bother?)

She ended her spiel with, “So, can the cancer patients count on you?”
To which I replied, “No, because I hate cancer patients.”

“Wait, no, I hate cancer. I get so confused at times.”

I wish I’d said that. Instead I said, “We’re broke,” and left it at that.


Speaking of acting jobs, and interesting choices, I’m a little conflicted about a performance I gave just the other day.


I decided to take El Guille to the grocery store alone, leaving the baby with my sister. El Guille and I don’t get much time alone these days, so it was a bit of a treat to escape, even if it was to the store. As I drove into the parking lot, I noticed a woman who looked a little down on her luck pacing the stalls. She was walking in between cars with a mean look on her face. She made eye contact with my vehicle and followed me to where I parked.

I am such a wimp sometimes. I just didn’t feel like a confrontation that day. I knew she was going to ask me for money, of which I probably had none, or ask me for something else I didn’t have or want to give. I sometimes give to homeless people on the street, but not in this case; it was her method that ticked me off.

The woman came and stood next to my driver’s window, just standing there, staring at me slack-eyed. Creepy. I do not want to be accosted in the parking lot of the grocery store in that way (or in any other way, to tell you the truth.)

I had seen her sidle up to the car in my peripheral vision so I decided to turn around and ‘discuss’ our shopping trip with El Guille. At that moment I ‘accepted’ a phone call. In very animated language I started ‘discussing’ my preschool plans with my ‘mom.’ That’s when the lady tapped on my window. She TAPPED ON MY WINDOW, for the love. So I gave her a quick smile and the ‘one minute I’m on the phone’ finger.

That’s when the conversation on the phone took a turn for the worse. I vigorously said “No, that’s not going to work! No!” It seemed like forever that I was ‘on the phone’ and the aggressive woman was at my window. The minutes ticked past as she stared at me. She eventually gave up, deciding that the senior citizen four cars away might be a better mark.

OK, I felt a little bad. People get down on their luck, and I shouldn’t be judging who I’m helping and who I’m not helping, I should just be offering help if I can do it. It’s my duty.

On the other hand, I hate being accosted in that way especially when I’m with my child. The mama bear comes out trying to assess the threat of danger; in this case I had the weird feeling (the one Oprah tells you about.)


I have to tell you, down on your luck aggressive lady, stalking people in a parking lot and tapping on their car windows doesn’t make me feel safe. In this case, the path of least resistance was probably the appropriate one. Plus I got some good drama practice in for my next role: Great Big Phony.

25 comments:

Mrs. Dub said...

Reminds me of the time we went out to our car in rainy Chicago weather, only to have a guy approach us and ask if he could wash our windshield for a $1. Um ... "Do you just want a $1 instead?" His answer was yes, but I worry we may have been the only ones to take him up on the offer that day.

But sometimes I do avoid the interactions at all costs because someone is either creepy or plain rude.

~j. said...

Ew! Yes, creepy method. Creepy, creepy. I'm so glad you didn't get out of the car. I've found myself being harrassed (!) by people asking for spare change and when I seriously don't have any, they seem so put off that I'M the one who ends up apologizing and feeling in the wrong. No, no, no.

Cindy said...

I hope she reads your blog when she's checking her e-mail at the library.

sue-donym said...

I started typing up a big documentary on the effects of giving money to panhandlers, but I nixed it. Let me just say you did the right thing (although I think that feeling may be the Holy Ghost - not Oprah)

kiki said...

How did we avoid people BEFORE cellphones? I just can't even imagine anymore! Thank goodness for cellphones!

TOWR said...

That is so creepy. I got hit up outside Target (TARGET! Shouldn't that be a safe haven? I would expect it at WalMart, but Target...) and just told them I didn't have any cash, which was a big fat lie. Here's the thing: I pay taxes that pay for shelters and other welfare programs. If people are really in need, they can go there and get help. But please don't accost me in the parking lot.

I'm glad you made it out unscathed. Very shrewd deflection.

kiki said...

*light-mindedness in 5...4...3...2...* Oprah's NOT the Holy Ghost?

Rynell said...

Stalkers give me the creeps. It's just not a good method at all.

Amy said...

I do the fake cell phone conversation all the time.

Kalli Ko said...

I mostly just talk to myself and that scares them away quick enough

Fig said...

Way to go all method-actor. In her face!

Also, preschool plan discussions do tend to get vigorous.

sarah k. said...

She was a zombie. It's a good thing you didn't roll down your window, cause she would've sucked your brains out your ear.

Azúcar said...

Yes, sarah k, Occam's razor not withstanding, she was a zombie for sure.

c jane said...

Just happened to me the other day in a dark parking lot in Springville 'cept it was a crazy-eyed man. As soon as he came out of his lurking I started running, to my car, for my life.

You are so right, it is not okay. But I always think of that scripture " . . .unto the least of these my brethen you have done it unto me."

And then I have guilt. And then I think, no it is still not okay to be accosted.

AmandaStretch said...

On the metro in Paris, this guy was busking and then walked up the car asking for money. He approached my grandfather, who speaks no French, and I apologized for him and tried to wave the guy off. He gave me the biggest stink-eye and made a gesture I can only assume is extremely rude. Too bad for him I wasn't offended.

Monica B. said...

The Cancer people called me the other day to, they must be working the area. I hate that when I tell them I'm on the "do not call list" they say that doesn't apply to them. Then what is the stupid list for?

Lindsey said...

Maybe I don't want to move back....no, I still do.

One time a creepy guy came up to my husband at a gas station near JFK airport and told him a sob story. Fred gave him his/our last $10 just to go away.

Marge Bjork said...

Not that they're wrong or that they don't have a valid point, but does Towr realize that's exactly what Scrooge says? They've got to realize, it's too perfectly synced.

Laquina said...

Maybe if you would have opened your car door hard and fast enough you could have knocked her out and made your escape that way - It makes a better mental picture. If it was me I would have just stared back through the window and said "are you kidding me?" really loud until she backed off.

April said...

Towr's point is completely valid. And how many times throughout the year do we give to different charities? In 2007, I purchased raffle tickets on separate occasions that benefited Lions Clubs, a library building project, and a church guild. I donated to needy families over Christmas. I paid entrance fees to races where proceeds when to children's day-care facilities and chamber work. Donated to various organizations: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research, March of Dimes, etc.

Really, how much are we expected to dole out? There are people who spend their lives trying to help the needy, the down-on-their-luck, the homeless. There are shelters and programs galore. Utilize them!

annette said...
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annette said...

Call me cold, but I just tell them all, no. No excuses, no lies. Sometimes, I'll add "sorry". I've heard too many stories about beggars who just buy booze/drugs. There are shelters and help, but many choose not to "work" or get real help.

That woman sounded desperate. I think you did the right thing. I've heard that if you report people like that, the police will actually help them get good help that they need, and keep them from scaring everyone else.

b. said...

The last time I was accosted for drug money was outside Cal-Ranch. I'll bet you've never been there, I don't know why I was there either (dog food). The pickins at Cal-Ranch are Slim Whitman. This person asked me on the way in (I said no) AND on the way out (I said, "I SAID NO!!" and then I was all apologetic like ~j.)

Angela said...

I think I've been acosted by the same woman as you...twice! Was it the Smiths on Freedom? She did the same wait at the window thing to me. Let's just say I've started shopping at Macey's.

Lois said...

ANGELA -- yeah, that same woman was hitting people up at Zion's Bank (the one across the street from Smith's) saying that she needed money for food. My husband thinks she's genius because people can't say they don't have any money if they're at the bank. One lady offered her food (she had some orange rolls she just bought at the bakery) and the woman went ballistic saying, "I don't want your dirty rolls, I just want your money!"