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Antares

Talking to strangers on the street

Over the years every time I've been approached by somebody on the street it has been to 1. solicit money 2. try to trick me 3. solicit sex 4. one grabbing attempt by a dirty looking man. I used to be very naive and trusting and I used to stop a lot for people thinking if they needed help and I should help them. One lady who's always trying to trick tourists, I met on three different occasions in three different locations, and each time she didn't recognize me. But the kicker is each time she picks me! Out of everybody in the room! I don't know why I attract these things. Nowadays I adopt the policy of ignoring everyone on the streets regardless of who they are and what they want to talk about because I've learned over the years that the outcome they want from our interaction usually benefits them and in most cases harms me, and lately it's become a force of habit. Which is an extreme position, but lately I've started feeling guilty about it.

This week, I was entering a supermarket and listening to music on my phone. I was at the entrance at the same time as an old man in a wheel chair. He said something. Not knowing German (so it's not a language I understand unless I was paying attention, which I was NOT) and being preoccupied by my music I didn't know what he wanted or if he was speaking to me. Furthermore it was not a situation that I would think he needed help with. There's a slight ramp on the ground. The ramp is REALLY shallow to the extent I didn't even know it was there because I'm able bodied and to me it felt like flat ground. But a split second after going inside my brain fog cleared and I realized he probably needed help. Even then I didn't know what he needed help with because I failed to notice the ramp as I came back out of the supermarket. It was only when I started pushing his wheel chair did I realize that 1. there IS a ramp 2. what a difficult ramp it really was (something in the stupid design no doubt). To think I was a hair's breadth away from being an asshole who walked away from an old man needing help.

And I guess this is a symptom of my Aspergers but I'm notoriously bad at reading other people's intentions nonverbally. It's very difficult for me to judge the situation on a case by case basis because that'd require more EQ than I have- once, a taxi driver (who, thinking back, didn't seem to have proper license) approached me and offered me a ride and I took it because I was sort of scared in a foreign city and there were no other taxis around. Then when I got to my destination he cornered me and got $400 out of me. This is the kind of situation I routinely get myself into when I used to let people talk to me. So I don't know what to do about my blanket position but I feel like it's too extreme.

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1 hour ago, Antares said:

I don't know why I attract these things.

 

1 hour ago, Antares said:

ignoring everyone on the streets regardless of who they are

 

1 hour ago, Antares said:

being preoccupied by my music

 

1 hour ago, Antares said:

scared in a foreign city

Predators often target the scared and the inattentive.

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Sounds like a fine strategy for you. I get bugged for change a lot since I'm an all-American white man and people can't tell I'm a dick from afar. I was at a gas station and saw yet another person begin to approach me from far away so I turned around and moments later I heard "excuse me..." and I just turned and snapped "No." And the young lady froze and looked petrified. Turns out she was selling chocolate bars. I felt bad and said "I'm sorry - I thought you were just asking for money.." then I bought one from her.

If you struggle with being swindled then it's in your best interest to ignore pleas from strangers.

BTW, where was this? Germany?

Edited by INTJoe

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I am always scanning my environment when I am out (grew up in a rough area) so I tend to spot the beggars from a mile away. So as soon as they start to deliver their 'feel pitty for me'  speech I will tell them no half way through, which cracks me up inside to see them react to the unexpected interruption, or if their request for money is something that I can do (i.e money for food) I offer to give them the item instead of giving them the cash. If they were bullshitting me they just decline and walk away. Either way I win. I don't get scammed or I end up helping someone in need on my terms.

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over the years, i've learned to politely say "sorry, i can't help you" to people i suspect as scammers with sob stories. however, there are times when people genuinely do need help, so i do remove my earphones whenever i get approached by strangers on the street and then take a minute or so to listen to what they want. most of the time i go back to listening to music, but occasionally people need directions or some other small thing that's totally reasonable to help with, so i take a chance and listen.

it might be different if you're female though since you get approached by creeps for sex and that's a completely different situation.

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10 hours ago, INTJoe said:

Sounds like a fine strategy for you. I get bugged for change a lot since I'm an all-American white man and people can't tell I'm a dick from afar. I was at a gas station and saw yet another person begin to approach me from far away so I turned around and moments later I heard "excuse me..." and I just turned and snapped "No." And the young lady froze and looked petrified. Turns out she was selling chocolate bars. I felt bad and said "I'm sorry - I thought you were just asking for money.." then I bought one from her.

I found this to be endearing :laugh:.

I live in a country with many beggars. You'd find more than five beggars roaming on the street every two hours or so. The beggars here are organized, and a lot of them can actually earn a living normally (but too lazy to do so). I've even found an article that stated some local beggars earned a bit more than the minimum wage, and a lot of them fake injuries or stories to gain sympathy. I used to not have the heart to decline them (even had my own small wallet where I kept small changes to give to the beggars), but after some research, I realized that donating to a trusted foundation is better than handing money on the streets. Nowadays, I decline them straightforward with a polite nod and a hand pushing their hand back. The most I get was one of them throwing stuff at me.

I also think @El Cas's idea of handing the stuff rather than money is better. I gave child beggars food more than once, but I'm worried if they could get into trouble from the 'leader' of their beggars gang. 

I kind of believe we can decline giving them stuff if we deem them as suspicious without having to seem like an asshole. But, if I deem their need for help as genuine, I tend to try my best to help.

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Last night we were walking past this red light district when we saw a group of South Asian (male) foreigners standing by the roadside looking around at the open bars and nightclubs. One of them left the group and approached a lady in office wear holding her briefcase and we heard he asked how much for an hour. She was pissed off and shouted she's not a hooker. He then ran back to his group and quickly walked away. I passed that lady and grinned at her. She grinned back saying damn uber driver telling her to wait at that spot. I told her lucky she didn't smack the guy with her briefcase because I think I would have. 

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It's frequent but there are exceptions. In my country you get the religious preachers who offer you coffee in exchange for a bunch of nonsense, or those who are actually lost and looking for a metro station or an address.

Edited by Archetype

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People leave me alone, except old ladies who for some reason want to chat with me when buying groceries. If I think someone is likely trouble I'll stay clear of them, though.

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I used to be in a similar position to you. It's a very dark world we live in. There are a lot of predators out there. Frankly, you need to come to that realization if you want to successfully interact in it. You state that your EQ is low. Well, you should definitely see a psychiatrist and get counselling in terms of your enhancing your emotional intelligence.

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21 hours ago, Doob said:

People leave me alone, except old ladies who for some reason want to chat with me when buying groceries. If I think someone is likely trouble I'll stay clear of them, though.

LOL that's me! What is your reaction when those ladies chat with you?

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I give away lots of money, relatively speaking (over $60,000 this year.. *none* of it to any church, by the way, since I know that's what you are thinking... and most of it non-deductable).  My main concern is not about being scammed.... that's just part of the play... I'm not going to let fear blunt my generosity.

I think those who give to people about whom they know *nothing* should be more concerned about enabling someone's self-destructive behavior...  giving to ease their own conscience, or pump up their own ego, and in the process actually harming the one they are "assisting".

Here's a recent example of what I think is good "strategic giving":

I eat at a particular burger place at least 5 times a week (this is one reason I am so healthy).  I fund the staff's Christmas bonuses every year; I give cash to the owner, and he passes it out at their annual Holiday party.  Most of the staff are 18 to twenty-somethings for whom a few bucks makes a big difference.  There are about 25 of them, and I know them all by name, I've talked with them, know a little bit about their stories... in other words, I have some notion of where the gift is going.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked their chief cook in passing how he was doing (he likes to tell me about the academic successes of his young daughter). He laughed a little, and said he had busted a tooth.  It cracked perpendicular to the gum line, and half of it fell out (yow!).  He couldn't afford to get it fixed, and was just squirting some numbing gel into this hole in his jaw so he could keep working!

I came back that afternoon to talk with the owner (we've been pals for years), and gave him a check for $2,500 to pass along to the cook for dental work.  I did it this way rather than just hand the cook a check, for two reasons:

1.)  This creates accountability.  I knew that, this way, he'd get the dental work he needed instead of spending it on his lazy kids (young adults who leech off of their hard-working dad).

2.)  I knew that the owner is generous with his people, and probably already had something in mind to help.  In fact, he did; this way, the two gifts were coordinated for maximum benefit (in addition to getting some dental work, the cook was able to get some long-needed repairs on his house).

I think this kind of "strategic" giving is much more beneficial than reflexively tossing some cash into a bucket at a stoplight.

That said, I do sometimes give money to street people.  But God has to say something to me.

But here is what I think is a *much* better way to engage in strategic giving:  thoughtfully give large tips to service people you know a little bit about.  Wait staff at restaurants, the lawn care guys, etc. ... these are working people who are fighting to support their families at low-wage jobs.  Many can only get part-time jobs, so they rarely have benefits.  

After a few contacts with them, you get some idea of whether they are a good "charitable investment" (in a "paying it forward" way).  I gave a guy a 200% tip this week, because I know him, his wife, and his kids... he is a lover of giving himself, and I know that some extra cash will be used to accomplish something worthwhile.

So, I suggest you think about adding a few dollars to your lunch-counter tip instead of giving cash to some guy jonesing at the stoplight.  It's better for everybody.

 

 

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18 hours ago, AesSedai said:

LOL that's me! What is your reaction when those ladies chat with you?

I don't mind and just go with whatever they bring up. 

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lol do people actually ask you for money wtf...

 

i get asked for smokes a lot and lighters.

i notice jeans t shirt boots = get asked a lot.

in fancy clothes like a suit people kind of avoid me. probably because i am creepy and still have visible tattoos in sleeves.

 

i would say only certain types of predators target the scared and the inattentive.

they probably wouldn't hold up in a fight.

 

 

i also like montes way of giving.

in my local area there is a sports club with poker machines which i make donations to the club through and get to watch pretty lights and get drunk at the same time! it does get boring though wish they would bring back the pool table.

helps them pay for the lawns and sports equipment (its mostly a seniors club)

Edited by king con

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Yeah, I also like Monte's mode of giving.

I don't give money to panhandlers,  but if I have food with me, I share that.  (Pulling stuff out of my lunchbox, etc.)

If I am going through a fast food drive though, I will order an extra burger for the guy standing on the corner;  Last week, a guy asked me for money as I entered the store-I didn't give him any, but I gave him some food on my way out.

There are hordes of beggars in my area.  Some of my students are homeless, and I have secretly slipped some of them money.

But, I have never feared for my personal safety from people on the streets.

 

If you are repeatedly finding yourself in bad situations, stop taking risks with interactions.  It may sound extreme, but if you haven't gotten the social stuff down, why stress over trying to figure it out?  

Well, maybe not the best advice, but for myself, I have just about given up on being social.

Edited by baptistvampire

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The only thing you would probably give someone besides attention you don't want to give is food. Smile, agree and goodbye forever.

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