Playing Cards with an Accidental Tourist
This morning I began my trek to Alaska, the first leg of which involves me getting to the Port Authority bus terminal to catch a bus to Newark airport. While waiting for the next bus a man walked up to me. Dressed in a polo shirt and khaki pants, a quick first impression should have gotten me to conclude that this guy had somewhere to be, had something to do, or was an otherwise productive member of society.
But I didn't. I think it was the sunglasses. He was wearing sunglasses indoors at nine in the morning. And it was also the way he came all the way up to me before he said anything.
He got into my space and asked, "I was wondering if you could help me."
This guy's probably going to ask for money, I thought, then immediately felt bad for making a snap judgment. Maybe he just has a question about the bus.
So I just looked him in the eye.
"Now," he said, "don't get irritated."
He's definitely going to ask me for money. Now I was annoyed, mostly at myself because I gave him the benefit of the doubt and he let me down.
I looked directly in his eyes, which made him uncomfortable. Nothing troubles a bullshit artist more than being confronted by his own soul.
He went through his half-assed speil about needing $2.25 for a bus ticket (a ridiculously specific amount of money always makes them feel like they're more believable). He could tell I wasn't buying it so he quickly got to the "can you help me out?" closer.
I said that I was sorry and that I couldn't help him.
He quickly turned around, grumbling, "thank you, that's very white of you."
Yes, he did. He played the race card.
I didn't give a stranger money in the Port Authority bus terminal and I'm therefore some kind of racist. I wasn't suckered by a panhandler in New York and somehow I've poorly represented my people. Sorry.
As he walked away grumbling (you'd think a panhandler would take rejection better, must have been because he knew I knew he was full of b.s.) I said, "there are three other people in here you could ask."
There were indeed three other upstanding citizens in the waiting room: a guy dressed as a pilot, an Indian dude, and an African-American man in a suit. But he didn't need help badly enough to ask any of them, he just walked up to the white boy with a backpack on his back who looked the most gullible and the most like a tourist.
Well, if you canít get $2.25 out of a gullible white tourist, youíre not much of a scam artist are you?
I see your race card and I raise you a pair of you're an idiots.