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If a Con's Worth Doing... Sunday December 14, 2014

I met a con man today.

At least, I'm fairly sure he was a con man. A very smartly dressed chap flagged me down on the road holding a (very obviously foreign) map and explained that he was from Germany and had run out of petrol and needed me to buy him some and would I take his gold bracelet as payment...

But he really wasn't a very good con man. I wanted to take him to one side and explain that:

1. If he wanted to persuade me he was from Germany he needed his ethnic accent to be overlaid with tones from Munich, not the East End of London.

2. If he was going to wear such a beautiful pin striped suit he needed to wear it with authority, as comfortably as if he were wearing his jeans, because people who wear suits every day look as if they wear them every day. He looked as if he only wore a suit for weddings, funerals and – oh yes – con jobs. (It was English tailoring too – not German. I know things like that.)

3. Further to that, chaps who wear suits to work every day don't normally wear five or six flashy gold bracelets. And they certainly don't give them away to strangers for the promise of petrol.

4. His whole body language was inauthentic. He wasn't confident in himself; he was obviously acting the part and his character wasn't convincing.

5. He was rushing the whole business. A good con takes a bit of time and you have to let the mark set the pace. You have to let them think it's all their idea.

He was all wrong and nearly all my instincts were rising up in force, bayonets out, telling me to move along smartly because this was absolutely not right. The minority of instincts remaining just wanted to give him some coaching on how to do a better job.
I mean, I'm not a con-merchant myself, but I've read books!

So I drove away, reflecting that, had he been a genuinely stranded motorist who had run out of petrol and discovered he didn't have his credit card on him I would have:

1. Driven to the petrol station a couple of miles up the road to get him a can of petrol and then

2. Followed him to the petrol station and paid for enough petrol so he could get to where he wanted to go.

I wouldn't have wanted him to have taken my details with a promise to pay me back and certainly I wouldn't have wanted a (supposedly) gold bracelet. I would ask him to pay it on in his turn; to help someone else in need when he met them.

And that's why I'm a bit cross. It might have been nice to have done a good deed for somebody really in need. I'd have had a nice warm glow all day.

But mostly I'm frustrated because I hate to see anything done badly, even a roadside con like that.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 7:08am

Beautiful ! I couldn't have said it better myself. Fun to find a kindred spirit on Sunday morning. Greetings from Switzerland !

crafty wee midden Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 7:33am

Not to be a wet blanket....but, assuming you were alone - and even if not - it's not such a good idea o stop for a total stranger. Just ooncerned for your safety. Unfortunately, that's a reality today....

Anonymous Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 7:58am

Why was my comment removed? I was wondering if this is a common con trick or the same person?

The Entertrainer Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 8:02am

Oh Mary, you write so well...
And you've got me thinking.
About me being a con man... myself.
What suits am I wearing that just aren't naturally me?
What pretty distractions look like gold in my life but are really base metal?
What accents have I taken on, trying to be someone else - even someone else I admire - but not true to me?
And what stories have I told myself in an effort to get some response that is actually, inauthentic.
Yup, I'm my own best con man... and the worst!
Time to challenge the con... and I thank you for that. xx

Di Murphey Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 9:06am

Dearest Entertainer ~
Your insight shocked me into looking at my own life anew.

How easily we fool ourselfves into thinking we are riding the wave of "okay". Thank you from my heart for this eye-opening post.

I am inspired to take it to the next level of awareness.
Di Murphey

Liz Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 11:36am

yes I like your insight too. Was thinking the same thing but wasn't able to put it into writing as you have done. Thankyou

Mary Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 11:56am

Oh Wow!!! Lex, your comment is the missing bit to my piece that I knew I had to write, but just wasn't sure what the point was! It needs to go together with it! You have made it just so relevant! What a complete star you are! Huge hugs! I wonder if Caroline can post it as an addendum to this piece. Well, not an addendum. Your bit is like the second part of a sonnet, where the first eight lines pose a problem and then the next six offer a solution. You are brilliant!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 12:02pm

Hello Crafty Wee Midden, Yes, I often stop for hitchhikers, but with discretion. My mother always stopped when we were children (she figured that someone would have be really nasty to try anything with three children in the back). Yes, there are risks, but sometimes there is real distress and I would much prefer to take a risk and be the Samaritan who stops, rather than the priest or Levite who passes by on the other side of the road. Things haven't changed much in 2000 years!

crafty wee midden Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 1:12pm

I know the Good Samaritan story, and understand your desire o be helpful, but nevertheless, it's not a good idea. In my opinion. Many things have changed a lot in 2000 years....( was that directed t me?)....including means of transport. It's a sad fact of life that there are a lot of people who do not have good intentions.....and did you alert the police to this individual?

Julia Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 1:15pm

Yes Lex, your comment expressed so much better what I was thinking. Well done as usual. It makes Mary's blog much more relevant for me! But thanks also to Mary. x

Fiona Cook Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 2:23pm

I love this post. Made me smile.
Mary you should have a very warm feeling, albeit not for the reasons you imagine.
You demonstrated very clear boundaries whilst having the motive to assist.
Boundaries demonstrate a very healthy self esteem something that does not associate with depression, that chooses to give Mr depression a wide berth knowing its vicious never ending circles.
I've always wished I could discover a formula for self esteem and provide it as a vaccination against self hate and the huge sadnesses it causes in the world, from the evil tyrants craving for power to the young child alone in a playground.
However alchemy is a myth, as those wizards discovered in days gone by.....and self esteem can only be achieved through trials by fire, trials and tribulations, our stories. Our resilience. Only then can we find that treasure at the end of rainbow.....self love.

Caroline Ashcroft Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 5:50pm

Hi there, no comments have been removed from the blog today so I'm not sure why your comment isn't here if you published it.

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 6:01pm

Hello there, no no - certainly not directed at anyone! Please don't think I was being snide. I do think there have always been people who will try to take advantage of the kindness of strangers and yes, we have to be wise. But I don't want to live in a world where there is no kindness from strangers; only cynicism and fear. And yes, I rang 101 and reported him! The police told me exactly what you have said too!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 6:02pm

Thank you Fiona. I appreciate your remarks.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 6:08pm

Great to see Moodscope publish a post that is light, funny and even self-deprecating, yet so true. Thanks Mary.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 7:12pm

Mary, I sympathise with your frustration! Being a perfectionist IS hard but, on a more serious note, the much quoted Desiderata reminds us not to compare ourselves with others, or we risk becoming vain and bitter. Go well.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 14th 2014 @ 10:26pm

Loving it Mary.
And the addendum.
Hello all, love ratg.

G Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 1:02am

Hi Anon, my comment was removed before too, though I believe it's a glitch in the system (?). I was pretty sure it was published, and the message did not contain any trigger or bad intention. This is perhaps a stealthy con trick of blogspot ;)

crafty wee midden Mon, Dec 15th 2014 @ 3:43am

Mary, sincerest apologies for being snarky - thanks for your understanding. Im very excuse for being rude to you, and I didn't mean it to come across like that.

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