It Could Happen To You: A Story With A Moral


I pride myself in being able to wear two different hats at the same time. One side is the somewhat square, accountant/bookkeeper who doubles as a responsible family man. I hold down multiple jobs, I make straight A’s in school, I dress casually, and I’m book-smart. I do taxes.  I take care of my wife and daughter.  The other side which few get to see is the spontaneous, somewhat reckless tattoo addict and hip-hop artist – a street smart kid who enjoys hitting the gym almost as much as he enjoys hitting the range.

As you can probably imagine, misunderstandings are inevitable and today it did in one of the funniest ways imaginable. I don’t know what it is about Buddhist monk scams on WVU campus, but I guess they are sort of a thing. Maybe it’s my demeanor, maybe I just look gullible, but over the past year this is the second time I’ve been stopped by one of these douchebags. The first time they tried to hustle me I politely told the dude to piss off, but today I decided to play along and do something truly EPIC.

I was approached by the bald-headed trickster on my way over to the Book Exchange to grab up a couple of overpriced books for two of my classes. He was walking in the direction of the Mountainlair when I must have caught his eye because he changed course slightly and tried to make eye contact. I immediately knew something was up because he hadn’t approached anyone else on the sidewalk before me. The dude definitely looked the part so I decided to give him the benefit of a doubt.

“Hello, how are you doing sir? You look pretty smart like you can appreciate this. I just wanted to spread the word about Buddhism and meditation. This is the copy of the ‘blah blah blah’ and it’s the same text studied by Mohandas Gandhi. I want to give this to you as a gift.” He explained as he handed me a high quality paperback book. At this point I already knew it was a scam because Buddhists don’t have one major source of scripture like most other religions. So I said “Sure, thanks” and grabbed the book that was offered to me.

I studied the book as he continued babbling along, speaking faster and faster as he went. Rookie.  I can’t really recall what he was saying because I was too busy studying the inside front, inside back, and exterior back for a price. As I expected, there wasn’t one. What I was holding was a free copy of the book which he probably picked up online, in bulk, for free.

“One last thing sir, by gifting this to you I only request that you pass along the copy to a friend after you are done reading it and I politely ask for a donation to cover the cost of publishing.” Knowing full well I didn’t have a single dollar bill in my wallet, I began formulating my escape plan.

“Oh!” I replied. “How much?” I began digging around my pocket reaching for my empty wallet.

“Well sir, anything that you would like to give is fine.” He replied smiling. I opened up my wallet and showed him that I was completely broke.

“Sorry bud, it doesn’t look like I have anything on me. Thanks though!” I admitted, after which I did a complete about face and began rapidly walking in the direction I was headed before. As I turned, I could see the shock, almost the horror, of how badly I had just turned the situation around on him.

“Sir! Sir! I can’t give this away for free!” I heard him begging shamelessly behind me as I continued to create distance between us. People on the sidewalk began gazing curiously in our direction as his voice became more and more distant behind me.  Finally I could sense his voice getting closer; the bugger was chasing me down for his book!

“Sir, I can’t give this away for free! Sir, I need that book back.” He growled angrily, noticeably losing his cool. Finally after about 20 yards of him screaming at me I turned around and shoved the book back into his hand.

“Oh, here ya  go. I thought it was a gift…” I replied innocently, gleefully taking in both his enormous scowl and the bewildered looks of the crowd around me.  His anger subsided to the most sheepish look I’ve ever seen in my life as he realized the errors of his ways and how much of an ass I had just made of him.

Moral of the story: Never try to swindle the nerdy looking-guy; he might just be an underground rapper.

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