Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Con Man Cometh...Again

Today, unhappily, I discovered that an indefatigable local con man is still plying his trade in the neighborhood. A few Thanksgiving mornings ago, he tried to put the bite on me, and apparently his shtick hasn’t changed all that much. When he initially approached my brother and me, he posed the seemingly innocuous question, “You don’t remember me?” In an attempt to convince me that we had indeed crossed paths on life’s long and winding road a while back—and on multiple occasions, too—the con man followed this query of his with an amiable back and forth guessing game.

Kibitzing for far too long with this guy, whom I didn’t in fact recognize, I was in hindsight a wee bit too dense for engaging this phony baloney for even a moment. As it turned out, the con man game that I got swept up him, found him, at long last, admitting to being the brother of a fellow whom I once worked alongside. Yes, I had finally guessed right with “John Smith”—really, that was his name. Funny, though, but I never knew he had a brother. In fact, I didn’t recall ever meeting a single Smith relation at the workplace.

So, to me, my con man was thus Billy, Eddie, or Adam Smith for a brief spell—very brief. The guessing game had gone on almost a full block before we had settled on the Smith Brothers’ connection. But by then, the cloud of dimness that had enveloped me had completely dissipated and I was more than suspicious. I wished with all my heart that Billy, Eddie, or Adam Smith would vanish into thin air, never to be heard from again. I knew, though, having given him entirely too much airtime made it inevitable that I was going to have to play along to the inevitable conclusion. He was, of course, going to ask me for money at the climax of some cock and bull story. Yada…yada…yada...he locked his keys in his car and had to pay the locksmith to get them out. Poor guy—he couldn’t get home without his car. And that, of course, is where his checkbook was.

Anyway, I finally had to decline his plaintive request for $42. I felt a hint of guilt for having strung the con man along for more than a block, when I knew full well he was not John Smith’s brother. Still, when I said, “Sorry…no…I can’t,” the agile con man didn’t miss a beat and went on his merry way to pull the scam on another unsuspecting patsy. And, it should be noted, I wouldn’t have given John Smith’s blood brother $42, either.

Fast forward three years and I hear a familiar voice from behind me this morning: “You don’t recognize me?” When I pivoted, it was, lo and behold, John Smith's brother. Ironically, I did indeed recognize him, but he didn't recognize me. “No,” I said without missing a stride. “You still don’t recognize me,” he said as he trailed me for several steps. “No!” I repeated more emphatically. While this neighborhood con man quickly gave up on yours truly this go-around, he nonetheless supplied a final verbal volley. “I’m your Saturday mailman,” he said. Oh, no you’re not. I know my Saturday mailman and he’s definitely not you. You’re John Smith’s brother, no? That was then and this is now.

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