Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Littlest Scammer

Some people seem like they're born to scam, even if they don't have to. It's like there's some part of the human brain devoted to "getting something for nothing," and in some people that brain-part has gotten cancerous and absorbed everything else in their skulls except for the little reptile nub that controls breathing.

For the last year I've been noticing a girl at the local Tim Horton's coffee shop. She's short and chubby and unpretty, and every time I see her she is trying to get something for free. Whether it's asking me endlessly if I have a spare cigarette, or concocting some ridiculous story about how she got the wrong order that morning and now she'd like a replacement coffee, or walking from table to table and canvassing for change...I never see this girl have an interaction that does not involve a scam.

Her performance on Friday took the cake. She walked into the store just as two university students were walking out, and she yelled "Hey, you're Judy, right? Hey Judy, wait!" as the students kept saying "What? No, we're not Judy, no..." and frantically trying to escape the girl's clutches. I can only assume this was the prelude to a scam that didn't work.

Anyway, she walked in and -- as usual -- started asking the patrons for cigarettes. Then she made a big show of counting her change and going "Oh no! Damn! I hate that!" When nobody responded, she got into line -- pushing in front of the last person -- and kept counting her change. "Oh no! Damn!"

As she got closer to the front of the line she became more and more demonstrative, trying to engage the people around her in The Scam. "Damn! I hate this, you know? Hey, you know?" Finally, with nobody biting, she actually yelled across the store at two men who were about to leave.

"Hey guys! You know how when you only have $1.50, and you want to get a coffee AND a Coke, you know how annoying that is?"

"No," said one of the men, baffled.

"I hate that!" she shouted. "I've only got $1.50 and I need $3.00 to get a coffee AND a Coke! I hate when this happens!"

"Yeah," said the men, and they scurried out the door.

The scammer eventually just bought the coffee, presumably because the rest of us are accustomed to her performances. It must be hard to carry on a racket -- even one so small -- in the same store over and over again. It must be PARTICULARLY hard when you have an unpleasant demeanor, as she does. Successful scammers need more than brute persistence, they also need charm.

Yes, The Littlest Scammer annoys me.

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