Zen monks in robes are working Times Square. except they aren’t really monks. It’s a hustle, but in the Times comments religion took a hit.
A better comparison might be the individuals and corporations who promise well-paid jobs to new arrivals, only to lock them into slave wages and living conditions; both sides of the equation are exploiting free will, manipulating virtue and morality, and taking advantage of the inner impulse to treat others as our neighbors.
The point is not all “charities” (who else gets the robo-calls on behalf of the police and firemen, credit card rates, broken computers, check scams?) or religions and congregations (many congregations are financially transparent, do good works without begging on the streets!) who work in the space of our hearts are equal or unequal.
The criteria of truth is a good separating point. Honestly tell me you are hungry or poor, if you don’t look high, I’ll help. Set off my hustle antenna; no way. That includes the old confidence scams (the murphy, which involved helping so-called lost travelers, an easy faked situation created for visitors to identify with).
Be a good Samaritan if you chose; but the Jericho road is treacherous. Protect yourself at all times.
walterhett, the lost-traveller murphy is still being run at the PABT. Awhile back, one Sunday, I was waiting for the bus to NJ when a young man approached our line with a sob story about trying to get home to Norfolk, VA, and being $12.46 short of a bus ticket. (These scamsters always use an exact number, which is more convincing than “I need $10″; as Pooh-Bah said, ‘merely corroborative detail intended to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.’) He collected several dollars. The next day, I was taking the weekday bus, which leaves from a different platform – and there he was with the same sob story, word for word, right down to the exact amount he needed. I mentioned that he sure did get back fast from Norfolk, and that he should have stayed down there instead of coming all the way back up to NYC to get himself stranded again.
Wow! Who knew? I didn’t think anyone knew about the old school cons like the murphy! I knew it as a guy or girl has an address he/she can’t find written on a piece of paper, an accomplice walks up to help and suggests swindling the lost person to the mark. The accomplice agrees to hold both wallets or a sum of cash as an act of good faith–and then, of course, disappears! I had it tried on me in Times Square as a kid, but I recognized it.
In the old days, the guy would have remembered you, and had another story good for a laugh. In Charleston, we have one we call “Ever Dying Soul.” Stricken with every fatal disease known to science, he has managed to survive for years, to repeat daily for listeners his litany of fatal ills.
Thanks for the heads-up!