This incident took place in 2007 when I was visiting with relatives in Maryland. Back then, I often took the Metro Subway to commute between Rogers Avenue and Johns Hopkins Hospital. One fine day, as was my ritual, I reached Rogers Avenue at around 10 am. I was approached by a nattily dressed middle-aged man who looked distressed.
He told me that his wallet was stolen and it contained all his money and credit cards. He needed ten dollars to get back home. I sympathized with him because I have been in similar situations before – I knew what it felt to be without money and stranded away from home. I took out a crisp note and handed it over to him, believing that I was doing a noble gesture.
I felt mighty pleased with myself and shared this incident with my cousins when I reached home later that evening. The next day, I walked to the Subway – the same old Susan but with a bigger heart.
As I glanced around, I saw the distressed gentleman from the previous day having a cup of coffee. He was unaware of my presence and as I walked towards him, he moved away and approached a female traveler. I was in hearing distance and heard him recount the same sob story. I was shell-shocked and stood still in my place as the girl handed him a ten dollar note. I regained my senses and called out to him but he quickly disappeared into the crowd.
I was angry with myself for getting fooled so easily. But then I learnt a valuable lesson and have been extremely cautious with strangers ever since.