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A Word to the Wise

November 21st, 2006 by Halli

This morning I had to ship some packages to the grandkids scattered across the nation. (In retrospect, I should have insisted that my children marry local kids to increase the chance they’d settle a little closer!) As I was standing at the shipping counter at the neighborhood ship and copy shop, I was a little surprised to be approached by an older gentleman, asking “Are you one of the radio ladies?” When I responded in the affirmative, he shook his head and said how much we had been missed on the radio during the just-past election season. “We were just in the dark”, he remarked.

He then went on to say he was in the shop to copy everything in his wallet, as a reference in case it was stolen. This action was prompted by an experience his wife had in the past week. “I guess we’re both pretty gullible”, he observed. She answered their front door one day to find a woman and small child. “My car just broke down – may I please use your phone?” Of course the kindly grandma invited them in, and showed the woman to the phone. “Oh, and could you take my little girl to the potty while I make my phone call?” Again the hostess agreed.

Only after the woman and child left did his wife discover that her purse had been rifled, and her wallet stolen. Police were called, and brought forward several prospective suspects, but none matched his wife’s mental picture of the perpetrator. Her wallet and the items it contained are not likely to ever be retrieved.

“You know, it’s hard to remember everything you’ve got in your wallet. We’ve spent the last week calling the banks, the credit card companies, Social Security, and even Medicare. Can you believe it? She made off with my Medicare number. So today I’m going to copy everything in my pocket, just in case my wallet goes missing, too.” He explained that he shared this experience with me as a cautionary tale, hoping to prevent a similar robbery for others.

As I finished paying for my packages, he was busily laying out the entire contents of his wallet on the glass surface of a nearby copy machine. We wished each other a happy Thanksgiving before I returned to my car. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the experience as I drove home. I hope it will make an impact on you, too, as you deal with your fellow man (and woman).

Kindness is usually the right decision, but sometimes we must temper our better nature by assessing the safety issues before proceeding. It’s better to risk being thought inconsiderate than to hazard becoming a statistic ourselves. To learn more about common scams making the rounds, contact the local Better Business Bureau, and bone up on deterrents to identity theft.

Posted in General | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. Andy Says:

    It’s a real shame that we have to be so suspicious of other people, but this is a reminder of why we ALWAYS have to keep our guard up.

    Two years in the Dominican Republic left me much more cautious in lots of situations, not the least of which is how I control my personal belongings in places outside my home.

    As one example, after a work Christmas party one year, a group of colleagues and I headed to a pool hall for some games and drinks (I stick with soda since I don’t drink alcohol). Our tables were in a corner of the large room filled with pool tables, and I quickly selected the very corner as the place I’d store my laptop bag and coat. Part way through the afternoon and evening, the girlfriend of one of the attendees realized that someone had stolen her purse. She had been sitting on the open side of the pool tables where people she didn’t know (and possibly didn’t see) had easy access to her belongings.

    In contrast, the only people who got near my bag were the people in my party. Anyone else would have been terribly out of place and easily observed had they tried to fool around with my bag.

  2. The Carnival of Thoughtful Consideration #2 at Says:

    [...] Halli presents A Word to the Wise posted at saying, “This situation actually occurred. Think – and protect yourself.” [...]

  3. Halli Says:

    Andy, thanks for sharing your own experience. With issues of personal safety, one must be aware of the surroundings and possible threats, and then calmly address them. No need for hysteria or panic. If a situation is too threatening, it should be avoided. The lady described in the post should have allowed the woman and child to enter her house only if there was someone else at home with her. It may have seemed unkind to deny the request to use the phone, but her personal safety and the security of her own home come first, in my opinion.

  4. Money Blog Articles For December 22, 2006 » Silicon Valley Blog About Money Says:

    [...] A Word To The Wise from the Carnival of Thoughtful Consideration #2 at Thoughtful Consideration. I’m big on learning from others’ experiences and cautionary reminders. Here’s another one to keep close. [...]

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