Monday, September 10, 2007

Swipeout

I know I'm an idiot. But am I racist idiot? That is the question.

Worked late today, had an article due and a dirty catbox waiting for me when I got home. Just thinking about it made me feel hopeless and tired.

I'm at the turnstiles when I hear the train approaching. Rock! I swipe my card. Insufficient fare. Fuck.

I walk toward the machine. Oh well. At least I'll get to read some of my book. It's a memoir by a blind guy and relatively funny. Not amazing funny, but good enough to take my mind off what's going on at work right now.

"Miss? Miss? I'll swipe you."

Out of the corner of my eye I see a black man hanging around by the turnstile.

Fuck that, I thought. Another homeless dude scammer.

I move forward with my plan to buy a Metrocard.

"Miss? Miss! Come here. I'll swipe you."

I take a better look. Huh. He doesn't seem that homeless. He's my age, kind of cute. Maybe he's like my friend Marc, the super gentlemen-type. Perhaps he's trying to pick me up.

Train's still coming and it's time to make a decision: Buy a Metrocard and wait another 20 minutes to a half hour when I'm in no mood to do so or believe in humanity and accept the swipe.

I accept the swipe.

"Thank you very much," I say as I push through the turnstile. I glance down at the fare reader. Unlimited ride.

Shit. Trouble.

***For anyone not from New York, there's a common scam on the subway. Con artists beg, borrow, or steal unlimited ride Metrocards, which let you get on the subway as many times as you want for a set time period. They then sell the swipes to people getting on the subway or offer to swipe them through and then start asking for money. If you buy a 7 day unlimited for $24 bucks and manage to sell 12 rides in one day, anything you make on top of that is gravy. It's a tough way to make money, since 99% of people know the scam and will turn you down, but to the persistent and desperate it's well worth it.***

Subway Guy says, "That'll be two dollars." He's all speedy, plucky and efficient, like a 1950's soda jerk.

Fuck you, you lying asshole. I didn't even want your shitty old ride. You asked me three times to take it, didn't say anything about paying you back and now you're trying to charge me?

I give money to homeless people all the time. I also donate online and volunteer. I'm all for handouts, but being tricked like that pisses me off.

I ignore him and keep walking.

"Miss! Miss! You owe me $2 dollars."

OWE you? I'm sorry, did we enter into some kind of contract or something?

"Miss! Miss! Get back here and pay me my $2 dollars."

"No. You're a scammer!" I yell as I'm descending the stairs.

The train arrives. I get on.

Oh shit. Are you serious? Subway Guy is running down the steps. He dives into the car just as the doors close.

"GIVE ME MY TWO DOLLARS BITCH!"

He's all up in my face.

I try to move to the other end of the car.

He follows.

I change direction and move to a different, more populated area.

He follows once more.

Flirt.

"YOU OWE ME! YOU TOOK MY SWIPE AND NOW YOU OWE ME TWO DOLLARS!"

"Leave me alone!" I say, over and over. I sound like a 1990's self defense video.

He uses the overhead bar for support as he leans over and puts his face inches from mine. He has nice skin, coffee with cream-colored eyes and large pores.

"I TRIED TO HELP YOU! I TRIED TO DO SOMETHING NICE!"

"No you didn't," I say. "You lied."

But did he? The whole time he's yelling I'm studying his appearance. His hair, his nails, his backpack, his clothes.

What if he's NOT a con artist? What if he's NOT a scammer? What if he really did expect to be paid back and I'm an asshole for assuming he's not some rude cheapskate and instead a thief and a hobo?

"I OUGHT TO FUCKING SMACK YOU, YOU LITTLE BITCH. I SHOULD SMACK YOU RIGHT HERE. SOMEDAY SOMEONE'S GOING TO SMACK YOU AND YOUR MAMA."

"If you don't leave me alone right now I'm going to call the police."

And I'm sure the police would have been a big help, were I able to get a signal on my cell phone, somehow convince the conductor to make the train stop moving and convince New York's Finest to stop going through people's purses in search of dirty bombs and Al-Qaeda pamphlets and locate me underground.

Subway Guy continues yelling and bitching. I do my best not to engage but it's hard.

"I OUGHT TO SMACK YOU BITCH!"

"I'm scared."

Holy mozzarella sticks, did you really just say that? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU ERIN? DO YOU WANT TO GET KILLED?

Luckily, Subway Guy and God cut me a break and he gets off at the next stop.

"Good for you!" a 50-something man with a guitar case tells me, giving me a thumbs up.

Thanks, asshole. Where were you when I had a 6'2 ball of rage swinging his fists near my nose? And it wasn't just him - the entire time this was going on no one said anything or tried to help me.

Before I moved to New York I'd always hear those stories about how people get stabbed to death on the street and regard them with suspicion. Now I realize they're all true.

Not that New Yorkers are a rude people. They're actually very nice. Carry a heavy package and 10 people will try to hold the door. Drop a quarter and you have a good chance of bumping heads with someone as they bend over and help you pick it up.

They only get selfish and self-interested when it comes to life-threatening situations. I don't totally understand, but I can't say I blame them.

Anyway, I'm home now and my brain is still churning. I keep replaying the scenario and wondering if I acted appropriately. Should I have paid him the $2 dollars? Did I cause someone to snap who's otherwise very normal? Did he just get cheated on by his girlfriend or fired from his job?

Or was he a piece of shit pissed because someone beat him at his own game?

I honestly don't know.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always have doubts about my own pre/misconceptions when things like that happen to me, too. This is a pretty common scam, though - and either he was outside of the turnstile, which begs the question, how did he get in to chase you down if he had just swiped you on his unlimited card? Otherwise, he was hanging around inside, which means he had to be waiting around for at least 15 minutes waiting to offer someone his swipe. Either way: pretty unlikely conduct unless you're a scammer.
As for the confrontation, I like to think that I would have said something, but I can't definitely say that I really would have in such a situation. I also often fantasize about how I would respond to gropers and flashers and the like, but the fact remains that when I did get groped, I silently tried to fend off the man the whole time between two stops and didn't say anything until just as I was getting off the train. I don't even know where that public cowardice comes from - and I'm sure no one's proud of it. Do you think you would have said something if you'd seen a woman in the same situation as you? (An honest question, not an accusatory one.)

Erin Bradley said...

--how did he get in to chase you down if he had just swiped you on his unlimited card?--

He must have had another Metrocard on him, which definitely speaks of scamitude. Who carries two Metrocards around at once?

I only do that like three times a year when I leave one at home or something.

-- Do you think you would have said something if you'd seen a woman in the same situation as you?--

Hmmm. I don't know. I definitely would have been looking at them and kind of hairs on the back of my neck ready to pounce and alert. The people around me were all averting their eyes. I've asked people, "Do you need me to call the police?" but it hasn't been quite the same situation. It's usually somewhere more open, less confined.

I realize locking subway doors is to keep people from falling off trains, but sometimes it's sucks in these situations.

JS said...

Was the subway ride worth 2 bucks to you? Did he swipe you through? If it had been a guy in a suit that swiped you through with an unlimited card would you have paid him the $2? What difference does it make if he was dirty or smelly or old... the guy swiped you through the gate... the fare is 2 dollars... It's a perfectly legitimate exchange. You owe him two bucks.

Erin Bradley said...

JS, I'm with you on not judging people by their looks.

But to me a legitimate exchange involves both parties being aware of the terms up front.

When one party entices the other party under false pretenses and then changes the terms it basically amounts to a bait and switch.

I would have had no problem handing over the dough had he said, "Hey, I'll swipe you but you gotta give me $2 bucks." (Some of the Metrocard scammers will call this a 'donation' in order to disguise it from the cops).

He didn't do that. He made it seem like he was a good Samaritan, offering up his card to someone in a jam.

You think that's fair? I don't.

Megan said...

Uh, the magnitude of violence in his language -- calling you a bitch and threatening to hit you -- is indication enough that this is not a normal, stable, functioning-in-civil-society individual.

That, and the fact that he was actively trying to scare you and take advantage of trapping you, are reason enough to not second-guess yourself. I don't give a shit if it's NYC or flippin' Omaha.

If I were there, I would have intervened and de-escalated the situation. When we allow violence and scare tactics to go unchecked, we actively create a society in which violence is normalized and "not that big a deal". And personally? I don't want to live in that society.

Finally, fuck that guy. It sounds like he was really aggressive and scary, and I wouldn't blame you if you still felt sick to your stomach and supremely uncomfortable. Jesus.

Morgan said...

Also, JS, the expected value of the ride is something less than 2 dollars unless both parties knew that Erin would specifically have bought a single use metrocard if left to her own devices. And why would anyone expect her to do that? He had no clue what the ride was worth to her. I have NEVER paid $2 for a subway ride in New York City. She probably hasn't either and I am sure that the crazy man is sane enough to have avoided doing so as well.

Should they have haggled? Gone in for a real meeting of the minds at the turnstile? Ludicrous.

J said...

Better Off Dead is an awesome movie. AWESOME.

mintzworks said...

Forget the two dollars.

What happened to you is shattering, even for a 'hardened' New Yorker.

I'm very sorry this happened to you. I'm very grateful he didn't follow through on his threats of violence.

I'm sorry you were put into a situation to be threatened, and to have to become scared. It's so hard to have reality shatter our dreams that everything is alright, and there aren't any threats we aren't ready for...

I'm really sorry.

Amanda said...

Can we send you pepper spray or take up a collection to buy you a taser? My sister loves her taser, she's just itching for a similar situation to take someone out, . . .again.

Seriously, though, you might look into a self-defense item. But, hey, at least nothing worse happened to you. That's good, right?

Kate said...

I really doubt this is a case of a Good Samaritan who snapped--with an unlimited fare card, why would a good samaritan need $2? (And yeah, if he were just Joe New Yorker trying to help a cute girl out how'd he intend to get on his train after swiping you with his unlimited fare card?)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this happening to you, and I hope you've been able to shake it off. Tough thing about scams is, they sometimes take a form that you don't immediately recognize, and so they prey upon your willingness to believe in people. But that's an instinct you've got to keep in check when you're down in the subway.

I don't really view this as a race issue. It's more about the difference between midwestern courtesy and NYC bluntness. There is a widely held belief that New Yorkers are impolite jerks as a result of some common defect in their character. But really it's just that you have to be wary, and fast on your feet sometimes, to get through a lot of situations. Even if you didn't recognize this scam, you are not being disrespectful of another person by regarding their offer of generosity with some suspicion. That doesn't diminish your humanity, which you have demonstrated amply in all sorts of other ways.

So, once you're in the situation, your goal is to get out of it unscathed. Give him the $2. He probably wouldn't mug you on a crowded subway, but if it's a choice between getting beaten up and your purse, then give up the purse. It's all replacable.

You can always try something more elaborate. Everybody has their own unique advice on this. Move over near some bigger dude, who might be intimidated into intervening. Throw the $2 on the floor and make him pick it up. Snap his picture with your cellphone after he moves away. But this is not some legitmate commercial exchange where normal rules of conduct apply. He's shaking you down.

And now, for kicks, go watch The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. A great NYC subway movie from the 70s. With Robert Shaw (aka Quint from Jaws).

Sarah B. said...

The minute he called you a bitch and threatened you, everything else became moot. Don't feel bad about any of your actions here.

LØVE Chocolate said...

I think you did the right thing. If he were an honest guy, he would have said up front - "if you'll give me two dollars, I'll swipe you through". He was obviously trying to scam you. It's just scary that he hunted you down like that. And he must have been a scammer if he was able to get to you so quickly.

I'm sorry you had to deal with that; angry confrontation always leaves me shaken for a long time after. I don't think race ever entered into it, you assumed because he was a clean cut guy, there was a chance he was just being a good samaritan.

I hope you feel better soon.

Anonymous said...

My street-smart ex taught me one thing for any situation involving beggars, Jevohah's witnesses and the like: Just say "Can't do nothin' for ya, man!"

"Hey miss, got any spare change?"

"Can't do nothin' for ya, man!"

"Excuse me, would you like a free Scientology audit?"

"Can't do nothin' for ya, man!"

"You owe me $2.00!!!"

"Can't do nothin' for ya, man!"

P.S. Great pic from one of the best John Cusack movies of all time!

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is a race issue, either. This is a safety issue. If a person looks shady, avoid them. If it looks like a scam, avoid it. Don't try to talk yourself out of your instincts because you are afraid of appearing racist - this could be the difference between safe and unsafe situations. And don't think that savvier people out there don't know how to exploit this feeling.

I agree with the earlier poster - if you felt really threatened you should have just given up the $2 and promised yourself not to fall for that again.

I'm sorry this happened to you, too. But shake it off. That was one guy in the middle of Manhattan. Better people are all over that island.

Erin Bradley said...

I'm hoping you're referencing one of my favorite-ever Public Enemy songs.

Best lyrics:


1. You got a rip in your couch. Your ma got gold nipples. Wash yo' butt.


2. Eatin' welfare turkey outta the can. You jumped out of a jelly into a jam.

3. Flava Flav got problems of his own.

Mrc said...

I had sort of a similar situation while waiting for a bus in New York. A totally cracked out homeless guy decided he somehow knew me and he came up from behind me, grabbed my arm, and started pulling me down the street. Of course, I resisted and pulled my arm away, but he was speaking in complete gibberish and kept grabbing me. I was freaked out, but too used to not making a scene to call out for help.

I started walking the other way down the street and he seemed to get distracted and walk the other way. Being the New Yorker I am, I didn't want to miss the bus or let that jerk ruin my day, so I turned and headed back to the stop... just as he turned around and saw me again. He came over and started grabbing me again.

Suddenly, some typical New Yawka in a leather jacket with slicked back hair bursts out of his Lincoln Town Car that's parked in the bus lane, yelling, "Get the fuuuuck away from her!"

It was wonderful. His wife had been sitting in the car and watching the whole encounter, and as soon as he got back in the car she told him and he helped me out. The other guy at the bus stop apologized for not helping, saying he hadn't realized what was happening.

So anyway, not all New Yorkers are unwilling to help in dangerous situations. You just might need to ask for help when you need it.

Belly said...

Not to get all self-help preachy, but I'm a firm believer in trusting your gut instincts in situations like this.
Almost every time someone has done something fucked up to me, I instinctively knew there was something off with the situation/person - sometimes I ignored that feeling (thinking I was being paranoid) and got burned.

You knew something sketch was up with this guy, but chose to ignore your instincts because of a desire to appear gracious or whatever.

Next time you find yourself in a situation that seems wrong, chances are that it is a bad scene. Don't worry about offending someone and put yourself at risk in the process. Just bail out.

Also, I'm sorry that happened to you. That shit is fucked.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't be so hard on yourself. I think both times, you acted impulsively (which is normal). If I saw my train coming, and someone offerred to swipe me through, i would probably take them up on it (in the heat of the moment). also, i have never heard of this scam, so i wouldn't have known what was going on. then, when he asked me for the money, i would have gotten REALLY freaking pissed and been like, fuck you, no way, just like you did. At the time, you didn't think he would go all apeshit crazy and follow you around in the subway car and get all up in your face. that's really scary....obviously if you knew things would escalate to that point, you have common sense, you would have given him the $2. but how could you have know that? it just kind of got out of hand but it was no fault of your own. in new york you've got to be a little tough just to survive, so when someone "demands" that you give them some money, the instinct is to be like, fuck off. Don't be so hard on yourself. you couldn't see this coming.

Anonymous said...

i also think you did the right thing. besides even if you did you get new card, who knows if he wouldn't have snapped anyway and followed you to the train because you didn't trust him. he's obviously not mentally stable and then you would've been stuck waiting for the next train with a psycho.

Anonymous said...

After nearly having my soul conned out of me when I was an idealistic youngster, I hate con men. I've pulled tourists away from 3-card monte. In movies where con men are the protagonists and we're supposed to find them charning, I still think, "Scum, scum, scum." Still, if I was to accept a Metrocard swipe (so far, I never have), I'd pay the $2, because -- I'm sorry -- that is the implied bargain.

Anonymous said...

I just left a comment (I hate con men, etc.), and then started to read the other comments. You wrote how you truly thought it was a good samaritan gesture and not a subway scam gesture, and so I started to reconsidered what I wrote. But then I thought, "Well, either you think someone is swiping you through with their unlimited card (which is stealing from NYC and no different from jumping the turnstile [something I did all through high school]) or a stranger is giving you $2 (not likely)." Would you jump a turnstile if you really wanted to make a train? That said, I admire that you stood up to him, and I'm sorry you had to go through that. I, however, would not've said I admired you had I just watched you getting threatened while I cowered nearby. Hopefully, I would've recognized you and been thrilled at the opportunity to make your acquaintance in a slightly heroic manner.

Erin Bradley said...

Implied bargain? Really?

When you ignore someone two times, giving a very OBVIOUS signal that you're not a tourist but a real New Yorker, and they continue to take the risk anyway and go after their prey a third time?

He knew he didn't have some rube on his hands and he should have known there was a very good chance he wouldn't get paid.

That's the REAL implied bargain.

BTW, are you male or female?* If you're male I think that lends a lot less credibility to your argument.

You don't get solicited for dates/pickups/hookups etc. on a regular basis as often as women do, so perhaps it doesn't occur to you that someone could think someone else was possibly being flirty and/or chivalrous.

*Not that you're going to give an accurate answer now, anyway. You're going to say female even if you are male, just to bolster your point.

OLT said...

HOLY SHIT! that beats the time this Polish/Russian dude made fun of my teeth cos he thought i was giving him attitude on the train when he asked for directions. the guy i was with wouldn't even stick up for me (Mike). i learned then the only way to get people on the train involved is to get them on your side and have them laugh at the pestering asshole to embarrass him. that shuts them up/they leave you alone. i think cos they feel outnumbered and it forces them realize they were wrong.

(i would've intervened if i were a dude in hopes of scoring a date with you.)

MW said...

WHAT the FUCK?!!?!?

NOBODY fucking stood up for you?! What the hell is wrong with people? There was nobody with any god damn GONADS in the subway car? That makes me seriously Fucking Angry. GRRRRRR.

If you ever see this guy again at a regular location...tell me.


Thanks for the compliment, btw. You goon.

: )

Anonymous said...

You asked whether I'm a man or a woman. I'm a man (and jeez, I wouldn't lie to make a point in this discussion). And, hey, you're absolutely right: I didn't adequately consider the sex of the person being swiped into subway..

Erin Bradley said...

What are you talking about, Anon? You're the biggest liar on the INTERNET. You're the reason people believe the bonsai cat joke.

jk

It's a fucky day at work. Sorry for being huffy.

Anonymous said...

I considered your first response and concluded that YOU WERE RIGHT and I WAS WRONG. Imagine how harsh you would've been had that not been the case?

Erin Bradley said...

Now wait a minute, aren't you assuming like I assumed with you?

And you know what they say about assuming...

unless you were being ironic. if so, pretty funny dude.

White and Nerdy said...

Don't be fooled, Erin! Anon's an A-hole. I'd know his contrary kind a mile away.

This was a GREAT post and a very illuminating discussion. Your blog rocks!

nikhol said...

Fuck him girl. Fuck him and his coffee with cream-colored eyes and large pores metrocard carrying arse.

Anonymous said...

The ethics of card swiping is truly unimportant compared to the shit that happened to you on the train.

And I should have expressed that right at the beginning of my first post: that it's fucked that you were yelled at, followed, threatened, menaced, and abandoned (by your fellow riders).

And sometimes, even if the writer is asking if the reader agrees with an aspect of a post, the reader should have the sense to keep it to him or herself.

Today, I know understand, was one of those times.

Take care.

p said...

Anon writes:

"And sometimes, even if the writer is asking if the reader agrees with an aspect of a post, the reader should have the sense to keep it to him or herself."

How delightfully patronizing. Might I suggest you apply this good sense to all of your writing?

White and Nerdy said...

Erin, you are an obviously good person and your readers admire the humor, honesty and humility you consistently demonstrate in your writing.

It's too bad there was no one to stick up for you on the subway, but god help the asswipe who tries to bully you here!

We got your back, sister!

Anonymous said...

Erin,

Sorry, dude.

When I wrote "...the reader should have the sense to keep it to him or herself," I didn't intend it to be patronizing. I was, I thought, noting my own failure to recognize that yesterday's discussion was not business as usual, and that that given the context of your entire post, I should've recognized that.

It was if a you had gotten mugged in Central Park at 3 a.m. and the first thing I said was "What the hell were you doing in the park at 3 a.m.?"

Anonymous said...

I'm suprised at how naive you are. You can't really think out of the kindness of their heart some guy loitering around the turnstiles would swipe you in for free? Kinda weird considering how streetsmart you appear to be in other posts.
and yes, I'm female, but you can usually tell when someone's flirting with you (at a bar, holding the door for you etc..) but not when someeone's loitering around a turnstile! So you fell for his scam, but I'm surprised you then tried to run away from him - that's kind of dangerous. I would have just given him his money and yelled at him, and then vow never to fall for that kind of garbage again.

Erin Bradley said...

I know it sounds naive, and maybe it was, but maybe it was one of those 'had to be there' kind of situations.

It wasn't like he was like

"Miss do you want a ride?"

and I was like

"Golly gee, sir! I do!!"

He asked me three times, was very persistent, and I didn't peg him as a loiterer when I entered the station.

As for the $2 dollars - He was behind the turnstile and hadn't paid the fare.

I crossed through the turnstile, he started giving me shit, and I was already halfway down the stairs.

Pretty hard to predict that someone's going to follow you through the turnstile, down the stairs, and onto a subway car.

By the time all that happened, he was so angry and I was so fucking freaked it was no longer about the $2 dollars.

I don't think I even knew what a 'purse' was or the concept of 'money' and getting it out.

If he was in my face but acting rather contained and saying 'if you give me the money i'll go away' i probably would have done so.

Anonymous said...

that being said...I'm sorry about what happened to you. That sucks. I'm glad he didn't physically hurt you though. And it is really sad that no one stepped in or just yelled "Leave her alone". Shitty New York.

Erin Bradley said...

You know, the other thing, now that I think about it -

probably had to do with the way he was dressed and looked

Because he looked pretty clean cut and attractive and not like a con man or homeless person

Maybe a teeny part of me was thinking 'hey, acting a favor from some guy being nice. it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility a black man could randomly help out a white woman, erin. stop being such a racist'

hell. who knows.

i need to put up a new post soon. i'm sure y'all are getting sick of talking about the subway!

Erin Bradley said...

correction:

'hey, ACCEPT a favor from some guy being nice'

not acting

White and Nerdy said...

Am I nuts, or are Male-Anon and Female-Anon actually the same crazy-ass person trying to drive you completely insane?

Female Anon: I have had men swipe me through for free with zero strings attached when running for the train. Just to be nice, because nice men do that sort of thing. There are LOTS of nice men in this city. But Erin's not a moron, so she knew something was up when it read 'Unlimited.'

I'm all for a new post, but this shit is FASCINATING.

Anonymous said...

dude...I've read this post, and all of these comments twice, and I still dont see how this is a "scam" against you. You pay two bucks, then you ride the subway. If anything, it's a scam that both of you participate in against the MTA.

I once got into the same argument about the kids who sell candy on the train. It may be annoying, it may not be legal, but it's not a "scam" you give them a dollar, they give you m&m's. Nobody is out to rip you off.

If you're gonna be in any way street savvy, you need to understand the difference between a hustle and a scam. The polish guy in my neighborhood who sells steaks out of the trunk of his car? That's a hustle. selling cocaine? that's a hustle. The guys selling rap cd's outside Virgin? they're hustling. A hustle implies some sort of unspoken agreement BY BOTH PARTIES to circumvent the rules.

A scam is when you think you're gonna get something, and you dont get it. When someone leads you to believe something that isn't true.

Getting robbed is when someone flat out takes your shit.

Even if you thought he was just being nice, once he informed you otherwise, you should have given him the two bucks.

As to the yelling and threatening, I hate to say this becaus obviously if I was there, i would have stood up for you, but yes, he was trying to intimidate you, and probably did so because you let him.

"Leave me alone, I'm gonna call the police" = I feel totally helpless right now, and am afraid of you" Which may have been exactly how you felt, but these are not the times where we should show exactly how we feel, because you're just giving people permission to intimidate you, even if they don't plan on actually hurting you.

Don't ever threaten to call the police. Either call the police, or shut up about the police. If you are in a situation where you are truly afraid for your personal safety, then you need to find help immediately. Don't talk, don't bargain. fight or flight.

If someone is just being a nuisance, then you need to tell them to fuck off. The shitty part is that the chances of bystanders stepping in and helping you has a lot to do with how much you stand up for yourself. An d I totally realize how much that is easier said than done. You did, what came naturally to you, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Just realize that in the same way your take on the situation was influenced somewhat by his appearance and actions, his behavior was influenced by your appearance and actions.

-Salah

SG said...

White and Nerdy is right.

I've swiped people through before, and it sounds like the guy looks a little bit like me, so Erin was totally within the realm of normalcy to assume the guy might be on the up and up.

I don't stand there and do it for everyone, but I've done it for tourists who were confused, or a pretty girl in a hurry. (Case in point.)

So yeah -- some of y'all don't know what you're talking about.

And I still think this had nothing to do with race (aside from a little white guilt on Erin's side, anyway!), but rather class. He didn't look like a scammer, so she thought it safe to assume he wasn't. Period.

p.s. - All you multiple "anonymous people -- WTF? How hard is it to click "other" and type at least your intials into the damn box, so we can tell you apart? Grow a pair.

Erin Bradley said...

salah -

i know i didn't say it before

and i know you probably aren't expecting this, since you normally wouldn't think it costs money to read a blog

and i know by putting this blog out there, on my myspace profile, my livejournal, miss info, etc. etc. that i'm pretty much shoving the fucking thing down your throat at every opportunity

but yeah.

everyone who leaves a comment has to give me $2 dollars.

sorry!

"A scam is when you think you're gonna get something, and you dont get it. When someone leads you to believe something that isn't true."

he lead me to believe i was getting a free swipe.

at no time did he say "i'll swipe you, but give me the cash" or "i need a donation"

the train was coming, he saw someone in a big hurry. for all he knew i could have been from out of town and not aware of the ins-and-outs and social nuances of NYC hustles.

when the person swiping doesn't inform the person being swiped that they're going to charge, it stops being a hustle and starts being a scam. i'm sorry.

i'm not a moron. i wouldn't buy a DVD in chinatown and then go back and yell at the dude "THE SOUND QUALITY IS SHITTY! GIVE ME BACK MY MONEY!"

there's something called 'the art of the hustle' and a good hustler knows how to pick his victims.

he chose to pursue someone who ignored him a whole bunch of times and then was shocked when things didn't work out.

if you pick your marks poorly, i'm sorry dudefriend, not my fault.

Erin Bradley said...

BTW, i'm coming off as mad defensive in these comments, but i want y'all to know i didn't intend the tone of this discussion to be all righteously indignant.

i still feel ambivalent about the way the situation played itself out.

i don't think i'm 100% right and he's 100% wrong.

the post was meant to convey that, and i think it did.

more so than the comments anyway.

MW said...

i don't think i'm 100% right and he's 100% wrong.

I disagree. You were 100% right and he deliberately mislead you and then was pissed off that you didn't fall for it, trying to browbeat you into compliance. That's 100% wrong, and a scam. Period.

Let's not look for shades of nuance where both people's intent was clear.

Simon David Winthrop said...

It is, unfortunately, better to ignore people on the street with whom you have no acquaintance, no matter what they are offering. If they need some sort of assistance and you feel you must offer them aid, either call the police or find an officer nearby and allow him to handle the situation. Assume everyone who approaches you is playing some sort of angle, because they almost certainly are. This is sad, but it is a necessity in New York, and the source of the "New Yorkers are rude" reputation. It is not rudeness, but self preservation that is at the root of this attitude. In most other metropolitan areas, citizens transverse their city in private automobiles and are less vulnerable to one on one encounters of all kinds. Not so in New York.
After having accepted this fellows "offer" you did the only thing you could under the circumstances. His anger was the result of his being "played", however unintentionally by you, instead of the other way around. Perhaps if more people either ignored his dubious offers or refused to play his game he would find a less disingenuous form of income acquisition.