I am an easy mark. It is written on my forehead.
I am naive and susceptible to others taking advantage of me.
I never thought I was, and I don’t like giving people the impression that I am, but I guess I am. I like to project a strong, self-confident exterior to the world. In reality, I guess I am not as strong and self-confident and as suspicious as I would have others believe. I will believe a good sob story when given one. I will trust until handed a reason not to trust.
I judge people by the way I want to be judged which is to say…please don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes. I like to believe people in general are good-hearted. I don’t like cynics and I’ve always tried hard not to be one. It is important to be positive in every situation, because if things are bad, they can always get worse. Believe me, I KNOW!
I have strived to live my life without judging others, without being a cynic, without being negative, by always looking at the bright side. But sometimes, just sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t be a little more discerning; A little more of a skeptic; A little more perceptive to the mean spiritedness of people in general so that I am not seen as so gullible.
Several months ago, I received a friend request from a former student. I taught him in 8th grade about four years ago. I thought it would be all right to accept his request because I always said to my students that I wouldn’t friend them on Facebook until they were 18. Richard, I’ll call him that is 18 or 19 now and will be graduating in about a week, so I thought it would be okay. Richard was a good kid in middle school, and I am sure he still is. He never got into trouble and never gave me trouble when I had him in school. He came from a good family, so I had no qualms accepting his friendship request. As I suspected when he was in 8th grade, Richard is gay and like most gay adolescents, he came to terms with his preferences while in high school and somewhere along the line he came out. I do not judge.
One morning at the beginning of April, I was sipping my morning cup of Joe and perusing Facebook. It was like any other morning, when suddenly a message from Richard popped up. This is how the chat went.
Mrs. Cauler I need your help.
What’s up? (I was a little startled.)
I feel really bad for asking but I am totally out of gas and I need twenty dollars to fill my tank and I am stranded and can’t get to school or anything since I live on my own.
Where are you? (I began to wonder if this was really who it said it was. He wasn’t finished with high school yet. Too young to be out on his own.)
My apartment behind XXXXXXX on XXXXXX XXXX
Give me your phone number. I’ll call you. (I wanted to be sure it was him. You can never tell these days. I figured that if he gave me his number and I called him, I would recognize his voice.)
Chat Conversation End
I called the number he gave and it was him. I was sure it was, but you never do know these days.
I asked, “Since when have you been on your own.”
“A few weeks,” he replied. We had a really big argument and I moved out.”
I asked, “Was the argument over you being gay?”
He responded, “Yes.”
I said, “Richard your mother still loves you. You know that. She just needs a little time to accept things. She’ll come around. You have to understand that she has to give up the dream we moms have for our kids like getting married and giving us grandchildren. She’ll come around…she still loves you. About the $20.00…you aren’t going to use it to buy drugs, are you?”
He chuckled and said, “No, I’m just a little short. That’s all.”
I asked, “Do you have a job?”
“Yea,” he replied. And he told me where. I suggested he ask for a few more hours each week.
“Okay,” I said. “Give me an hour. I still need to get dressed. I’ll go to the bank and I will meet you at your apartment.”
In the process of getting ready to leave the house, my son called and I told him what was going on. He insisted I should not go alone and said he would accompany me. I am so lucky to have the kids that I have. He had to drive 40 minutes to get here to go with me, and he did it without hesitation.
I telephoned Richard’s high school and told one of the counselors that I wasn’t sure if his mother knew where he was or not. I explained what had happened and what I was about to do…give him the $20.00 for gas for his car so he could get to school. As a mom, I would want to know where my kid was, no matter how old, and since Richard and his mom parted on bad terms…
My son and I arrived at Richard’s apartment. I didn’t feel comfortable going into his apartment, so I had him meet us in the parking lot.
Richard was all grown up! I hadn’t seen him in four years. He looked great, and he had a nice big hug for me. I introduced him to my son, Chris. I told Richard he would probably be angry with me, but that I had let his mother know where he was. He said, “My mother and I get along fine. I live with my Grandma. She and I had the argument. My mother remarried and lives up north [end of town.] She has a few step-children now, so there isn’t any room in the house for me.”
I said, “Well Richard…your grandmother is from a totally different generation. It might take her a little longer to come around.” I asked Richard if he was sharing the apartment with his partner and whether or not his partner had a job. He told me his partner was looking for work. I also asked if he had food in his apartment, because I was prepared to take him grocery shopping as well. He assured me there was food in their apartment. He told me he had just paid rent, was a little short, and need the money for gas to get to school. I handed him the twenty and told him I would always help him if I could. I made it clear it was a loan and that I couldn’t always help with money. He assured me he would return the money when he had it.
As my son and I drove home, I mentioned that I felt a little manipulated because Richard had initially led me to believe he had the argument with his mother. At least, I had assumed the argument was with his mother and he did nothing to correct the assumption until we were face to face. I let the feeling go, because Richard needed the money to put gas in his car to get to school.
The next morning as I was having my coffee and scanning Facebook I said aloud, “Well I’ll be damned!”
My husband asked, “What?”
“It seems the former student who borrowed the $20.00 for gas in his car to get to school yesterday is headed to California with his partner!”
“Not on the $20.00 you gave him!” My husband replied.
I felt bamboozled…cheated! I was lied to and used! I felt as if my kindness was abused. I trusted this young man, and he took advantage of me. He had never ever given me reason to mistrust him in the past! Shame on him if he ever asked anything of me again. An apology would be nice.
This reminded me of an incident with the wife of an old friend from my husband’s past. The wife had called asking to borrow money. Several years ago, she called my husband to inform him of the death of her husband. He was my husband’s very good friend while they were on active duty. They had borrowed money in the past and always repaid it. My husband hesitated, but I encouraged him to go ahead and loan her the money. After all, she and her husband had never before given him reason to mistrust them. My husband had also borrowed money from them in the past, and Gary always repaid what he owed. Once Gary sent her a check, she seemed to fall off the face of the Earth. It just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished!
These feelings passed quickly. I am not one to hold a grudge. I know that at 18 years of age an individual becomes legally responsible for themselves; however, that doesn’t mean that at 18 an individual is all grown up. At eighteen, most kids are still that…kids and kids will do dumb things.
A few days afterward, I learned via Facebook that Richard was home, back in school, and living with his mother. At least, I assumed he was living with his mother. There was no mention of the partner other than Richard’s heart was broken. So, it was a good learning experience for both of us!
I am a generous person. I will help a person in need again if I am able. If I am able, I will help because “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank.
I guess I am an easy mark…
Here is my card for this week; a new catalog sneak peak!
When I saw this stamp set and thinlits die in the new Annual Catalog last month at On Stage, I knew I HAD to have it. I think it is adorable! The only things you can get right now to make this card are the Mint Macaroon, Whisper White, and vellum card stock along with the rhinestones, triple banner punch, and hand held stapler. You will have to wait for the rest! 🙂 In case you are wondering, the sentiment is stamped on a piece of 1″ wide vellum card stock. The dotted image is stamped directly underneath onto the Whisper White.
Well, I hope you enjoyed your visit here today. Until next time…