The scammer leaned against the brick facade of the inconvenience store as I pulled up. Luckily, someone distracted him as I exited my car. On the way out, though, I made the mistake of eye contact. As he began his elaborate and well-rehearsed story, I listened attentively.
“What do you need the money for?” I asked him, smiling.
“A room, as I said.” He paused.
“I’ll give you $50 for your headphones. Will that help?” His headphones were worth as much as two of my car payments.
He smiled broadly. “Okay, you got me there.”
I laughed. “I tell you what. IF you tell me an interesting story, I’ll give you all the cash I have, $8. Is that fair? Just make it a true story.”
He thought about it a second. “Ooh! That’s easy. For $8, I can tell you ten great stories.”
I leaned against the brick facade next to him. “Hit me, dude.”
Here’s what he told me:
“Back a few years ago, I was in Nashville to scam my way into the VIP area at a private concert. I managed to get inside, of course, insisting I was the sound engineer for the band. I’ve met Nelly, 50 Cent, and a few others doing that. After about an hour, a few of the entourage went to a private bar nearby. Everyone was doing drugs. Even the waitstaff. I like to smoke but I wouldn’t touch the stuff they were using. I’d grabbed at least twenty joints from the little case one of the entourage had and stuffed them in my pocket. After a few minutes, a couple of men entered the main room, and one of them shouted, “Police. Everyone stay put. You are all being detained.” I ducked down to the floor, hoping I hadn’t been seen. I crawled around the bar and crouched low. I pulled out a case of wine from underneath and quickly yanked a couple of bottles out and put them on the floor. I could hear the mayhem on the other side as people were frisked and handcuffed. One of the detectives walked around the bar and saw me there. I looked up at him and nodded, and kept pulling wine bottles out of the case. The detective assumed I must have worked for the bar as he nodded back and walked past me. After a few seconds of that, I stood up and lifted the case of wine to the bartop. Everyone was sitting at tables, most of them cuffed. I kept pulling bottles out and putting them on the bar. This went on for a few minutes. Because of the confusion, I then started putting full bottles of the good vodka, whiskey, and gin in the wine case. When I had it full, I waited for the detective who’d seen me on the floor to look in my direction. I pointed to the case and then toward the back storage area. The detective nodded. I picked up the case of liquor and headed through the storage area. There was a plainclothes cop at the back door. He assumed I had been waved through because he didn’t stop me as I strolled past with my stolen case of goods. I walked out of there, laughing. I sold the liquor for $250. I shared the joints with my friend who was in Nashville with me. We got so high we could barely walk.”
I laughed. “That is a good story!”
“I learned that if you act natural, a lot of times you’ll skate by. And be polite, no matter what. I got caught with an unbelievable amount of pot in Atlanta one time. Enough to smoke up an auditorium full of people. When he asked me what it was for, I told him the truth, that it was to get higher than a kite for about a month. It wasn’t true, no one could smoke THAT much pot in a month. But he laughed and told me to be more careful about driving around with that much at one time. “I get a bulk discount though,” I told him. I think he was just caught off guard by how nonchalant I was about it.”
“Here’s your $8. Thanks for the story.”
As I went to get into my car, he quipped, “Are you sure you don’t smoke? That car color screams “high as-f” to me.”
“You’re right. On the other hand, those shoes you have on bring up an entire litany of questions.”
He was surprised as he looked down at his shoes.
He laughed. “You got me.”
“Offer to tell a story for money. You might make a lot more money.” He nodded.