Written 20 March, 2010
I never give beggars money. Never.
I'm trained as a behaviorist, you see, and I firmly believe behavior is maintained by its consequences. Beggars beg because people give them money. Begging pays.
You must be careful with beggars, though. Many of them are street people, and ever since the early 80s, when Reagan turned mentally ill people out of the psychiatric hospitals by the tens of thousands, that unsightly, smelly woman asking for two bucks is likely to be a schizophrenic with a long history of arrests, perhaps including some for assault. The odds are even great the person has a long-standing substance abuse problem.
Not paying beggars always, until yesterday, worked in my favor. But yesterday it got me robbed. Not violently, sneakily.
It happened like this...
I had gone to the grocery store. After I paid for my purchases I took them to my car to load them.
I drive a Mazda Miata, which is hardly the world's largest car. After I filled the trunk, I started putting bags in the passenger floorboard and the passenger seat.
I was hampered by a long and narrow empty cardboard box I was carrying in the passenger seat. And I was distracted by my friend Tracy, who was talking my ear off through my Bluetooth.
As I was loading my car I was keeping an eye on a nappy-headed woman in a soiled green blouse. She was shaking down the woman in the car next to mine, and I was sure I would be her next target.
So I hurried and drove away before she could get to me.
Unfortunately, I left my purse in the grocery cart.
The big box was obscuring my view, so I couldn't see that I didn't have my bag. I was perhaps 90 seconds down the road when I checked and realized it wasn't in the car.
I roared back, but of course..
... well, street person + opportunity = theft
At my most pissed off I described her as crack whore. She might or might not have been a prostitute, but I'm quite sure she was looking for some quick bucks to buy a bottle or a bag.
That would explain why she took only my wallet and left my purse, which contained my checkbook, keys, and iTouch.
She got less than ten bucks, counting the change, but she also got my drivers' license, social security card, health and auto insurance cards, AAA card, voter's registration card, and my permit to carry concealed. And, of course, my debit card.
I canceled the bank card immediately, of course. I also called the police so there would be a report. And I went through my checkbook to be sure no checks or deposit tickets were missing. Everything was there.
I'm going to have a fun time getting all my ID replaced. I'll be without a bank card for seven to ten days, and when it comes I'll have to change the numbers at a couple of dozen places online. I'll have to go by AAA, the social security office, State Farm, the drivers' license station, and the county courthouse. Drat!
It's not the world's worst disaster, of course, barely a two on a scale of ten, but it's still irritating.
Thank goodness, people can't rob you in Second Life without your permission!