Begging your pardon …

Aaaaand … that’s it for the Easter weekend. It just wasn’t long enough. Okay, it was four days, which is certainly nicer than your regular, run-of-the-mill three day long weekend, but I think that if you’re going to have a holiday built around a particular day, then it should be longer than four days. Like Christmas. That’s a two-weeker for those of us in the public school system. Easter should be like that too – and we might still keep Spring Break at two weeks, as well. When I am proclaimed Empress of this Place, I will do that. I promise.

But it’s been a nice break. We had great weather here on the Wet Coast for two days of it, and quite fortunately, those were the two days that DD and I spent shopping downtown.

I do not like shopping. I generally avoid it. (Except for home furnishings and appliances. That I could do every day. Twice.) However, DD and I do a major shopping trip every year on the Easter weekend. We replenish our spring and summer wardrobes, and we usually get a great bang for our buck because every shop has sales at this time. Last year, the rounded-off amount I alone spent on clothes on our shopping trip was 600$. I beat that this year. I added up my receipts to just over 800$. (But really, that’s only because I bought a raincoat for 150$ and a smashing little black dress also for 150$. I will wear those for ten years. Amortized out, that’s only 30$ a year for both items. A win, I think.)

You may or may not know this, but downtown Vancouver seems to be famous for its panhandlers. Apparently, we have more – and more aggressive – beggars than many other big cities in the world. I think I agree with this assessment, based upon the big cities that I personally have visited in my lifetime. In Vancouver, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will be hit up for money by people claiming that they just need another dollar for bus fare home, or any spare change so they can buy milk for the baby, or a couple more dollars so they can get that hotel room they so desperately need to get the good night’s sleep that they’re just not getting in the shelter. Some of these stories may be true, many are not. Some of these people really are in dire straits, some choose this as a way of life. And sometimes, I have been caught off-guard, seasoned Vancouverite that I am.

A couple of years ago, PG and I were strolling down by the waterfront, when a young guy approached us and asked us if we lived here. I took “here” to mean in downtown Vancouver, so I replied in the negative. He immediately launched into some long story about how he just needed twenty-five more dollars for the busfare up to Whistler. His wife and baby son were already up there, he explained, and he had a job at a restaurant there, waiting for him. He’d just been robbed and had lost everything, so he had no way to get to Whistler, and he’d tried calling his wife, but she wasn’t answering her phone. He HAD to get there tonight, as his job started in two days. He actually started to cry as he spoke about his baby son whom he hadn’t seen for a month, since his wife gone up to Whistler to sort out their living arrangements. He told me he was originally from Australia, and even showed me the kangaroo tattooed on his forearm. As he spoke, he got a little panicky, as he claimed that the bus for Whistler was leaving from the Hotel Vancouver in only half an hour, and he absolutely HAD to be on it.

I fell for it.

Yes, I fell for it despite the fact that his Aussie accent came and went at interesting intervals. Despite the fact that I know that Greyhound buses leave from the old train station, not the Hotel Vancouver. Despite the fact that when I pulled out my wallet and handed him a five-dollar bill, he practically stuck his face into my wallet and said something along the lines of “You could give me that twenty, too, then I’d have all the money I need.” At that point, I got testy and retorted that there were lots of people around that he could hit up for additional money, and I wasn’t about to give him ALL my cash, so back off!

As PG and I turned away, a woman who’d witnessed the last part of this walked past us breezily and said, “You shouldn’t give him anything! I’ve seen him here all week with that same story!”

Oh. Well, too late. The con artist had melted into the crowd, and I was out five dollars, feeling stupid. Lesson learned.

But my narrative doesn’t end there. Oh no, it does not. You see, sometimes you get a second chance. You can redeem yourself.

As DD and I wandered around downtown this weekend, that very same guy came up to us and began the very same spiel in the very same in-and-out fake Aussie accent! I recognized him immediately. I stopped, looked right in his eyes, and announced very loudly, “I’ve met you before, and you’re a liar! Get lost!”

He slunk away, and I marched on triumphantly. That almost felt better than spending 800$ on new clothes!

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10 responses to “Begging your pardon …

  1. reflectionsofavirgo

    Why didn’t I read your blog sooner??? I got shafted but he same guy but apparently he now also has MS. Luckily I had no cash other than $2.00. He found this hard to believe as I was parked in my car waiting for my DD to pick something up at the store.

  2. The “Greyhound bus story” is popular here in Ottawa too! There are so many different fabrications though, it can be hard not to fall for at least one of them.

    Unless they’re kids raising money for charity, then I pretty much say no and then ignore any stranger (Panhandling or working for a company) who hits me up for money.

  3. Okay, you’re a softie, so you gave in once, we’ve all done that before. But I *LOVE* the response the second time. That is awesome!

    I hate shopping for clothing. Usually I try to do it online but I need to get something besides the same old uniform (colored t-shirt and jeans) now, so I’m going to have to force myself to go shopping. Ugh.

    • Kimberly – I’m very hesitant about shopping on-line because I’m quite picky about how my clothes fit (which may explain why I dislike shopping for clothes!). I know you can send stuff back if it doesn’t fit or otherwise meet your expectations, but to me, that seems to be an even bigger hassle than actually going to the shops. But it seems to work well for millions of women such as yourself, so I really should give on-line clothes shopping a try, shouldn’t I?

  4. This is why I live in Burlington. None of that nonsense here 😉
    Now, both Hamilton and Toronto…
    oh, and
    Go Canucks Go!

    • VioletSky – Burlington sounds like a good place to live then – well, except for the weather. And that might explain why we have so many panhandlers out west: less snow and sub-zero temperatures. Just more rain.

  5. I know, I know! I usually do ignore them and keep walking, but as I say, I do get caught once in a while. I need to listen more to my big brother!

  6. The panhandlers that aren’t in Vancouver are in Victoria, which is equally disgraceful. What the hell is wrong with us that we don’t simply outlaw it and bust them for vagrancy? My rule of thumb is never give the bastards anything. I’ve been in addictions counseling long enough to know where the money goes. Sorry, dear sister, but this is a favorite rant of mine.

  7. There’s one like that who does that near where I work. Dunno what his story is exactly, but it’s one of urgent necessity. I got caught too. Then he hit on me again. Told him to get lost. The third time, I told him – loudly – “You’ve told me the exact same story three times already. Look at my face. Remember it. Because next time I’ll be extremely pissed off. ” He never bothered me again.

    And, as an aside, I haven’t even BEGUN thinking of summer clothes yet. *Le sigh*

    • Jazz – Those sob stories must bring in a good amount of cash, because they keep doing it, don’t they? And yet – I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to turn down a person who was so genuinely and desperately in need that they honestly couldn’t think of any other way to get a few dollars for food. But then again, I’ve seen panhandlers get nasty and rude to people who give them a sandwich instead of money, despite their claims that they need money because haven’t eaten in a couple of days.