So, we were on our nightly family walk when this guy on a bicycle caught our attention and asked, “Do you have any quarters for the machines?” Since we were in front of a laundromat, I figured this was a particularly inept way of asking for change, not panhandling.
So I told him the truth. “I never bring money on our walks.” He glanced down at my pants (looking for quarters, I guess), looked incredulous, but didn’t say anything else. We kept on walking. The kids didn’t even break stride. (You live in an urban area, you get used to being accosted by strangers.) We got thirty feet away, and the stranger yelled, “Geez! It’s not like I’m a mugger or anything.” Over my shoulder, I told him, “I don’t have any money.” And he screamed out — rather angrily, I might add — “That’s not what I was asking!”
It was all we could do to keep from laughing while still in his earshot. (Not always a good idea with crazy people.)
Let’s look at this rationally, shall we? I can think of 3 scenarios:
1) He was attempting to ask for change. My answer was pretty clear and concise. No money. No change. No can do. His final response indicates he didn’t listen or didn’t understand.
2) He was in fact panhandling. My answer was still clear and concise. No money. No handout. In this case, his final response indicates he’s not connected to reality, since he did, in fact, ask for money and I said I had none.
3) (This is my favorite) He was attempting to lure one of us onto his bicycle, with nefarious intent, using some cover story like, “I’ll take you home so you can get change for me, okay?” Here, my answer is as irrelevant as his question, since he had another agenda. And his final response indicates he’s not only disconnected from reality, but not too bright, either. I mean, was he expected all four of us to hop on his bike??
Bottom line, if you’re going to ask strangers questions, make sure you understand the questions you’re asking, and take the time to listen to the responses you get!