The Short Grift

I’m not proud of this. But that’s why I feel like I should own up to it. Because it’s a lesson and I don’t want to make the same mistake again. I was scammed yesterday. I was a woman with a crying baby all alone in her house in the middle of the day. I was a mark. Right random phone call, right time. This guy is an opportunist. He acts fast.

Our furnace was broken. So the husband asked me to call for service. “There’s a sticker on it,” he said. “It has the number.” So I located the sticker: “S & G Heating Services” and called the number.

“Hello?” said a man.

“Yes…is this S & G Heating?” I asked.

“…yes. How did you get this number?” He was Hispanic and didn’t speak English very well. Also the connection was very bad.

“It’s on a sticker on my furnace…Do you do service calls? Is this the right number?”

“Yes. What’s wrong with your furnace?”

I told him. He took down my information and said he could probably come tomorrow. He’d check his schedule. He was “working on a job” right then.

He called back to say he was 45 minutes away. An hour later he showed up. His truck didn’t have a business name on it. He didn’t have any business cards. I answered the door with a baby screaming in my ear. She was hungry but I couldn’t feed her right then. She didn’t understand this at all.

I showed him the furnace. He asked a lot of questions. He looked around, complimenting many things on being “nice”. He took a long time to assess the furnace. Lula cried in my ear all the while. I knew what she wanted but at least I was smart enough not to leave this guy alone in my basement. He fucked around with the fuse box. He used the bathroom. He complimented a few more of our possessions and decor choices.

“It need to be replace,” he said. “The gas valve here, it no work. The blower is also broken. The ignitor switch broken. All these parts very expensive. Better to replace.”

I asked him about prices. He basically said that each part would be about $500 each but that he could give me a really good price on a new one. $2800. He said I wouldn’t get a better price. I told him I had to ask my husband and tried to rush him out the door so I could feed the baby and call B. He asked if I couldn’t call right then. I left the room to call. B. was smart enough to say we should get other estimates. I knew the guy wanted an answer right then. I also kind of wanted to give him one even though I knew B. was right to shop around. He really seemed desperate for the job and I thought, “he must really need the work.”

I told the guy that we would get other estimates but that I’d get back to him soon. He said we would need to get back to him soon because his schedule was going to fill up in a few days. He also again said what a good price he was giving me. He also said if I did find anyone who would go lower that he would match it. I began writing a check for the $40 he’d asked for up front. I asked him who to make it out to. He asked if I had cash. I said I didn’t though I’m pretty sure I did. He asked if I could leave it blank and he could fill in the name later. I totally complied! I assumed that he just didn’t want to have to spell it out. That the language barrier was hard for him. In fact, I let a lot of things slide because of the language barrier. My goddamned liberal guilt. I assumed he had a difficult time finding work. That the recession was hitting him hard. But there were so many red flags that he was just trying to scam what he deemed to be a rich white woman alone at home with a baby. And I fucking fell for it.

Luckily, my husband is thinking clearly. Another company came today. A company that exists on Google. They poked around for 5 minutes and said it looked like our furnace just needed to be cleaned. 30 minutes later, it was and it was working just fine. $180 for the service call. No new furnace needed. They were so pissed off about this other guy that they took his number. They called him. He didn’t answer his phone. I wonder what they will say to him if he ever calls back.

But I am so ashamed of myself for succumbing to his pressure. For believing him and feeling sorry for him. I don’t know what this says about me. I didn’t want to be perceived as a Real Housewife of North Seattle so I trusted someone I shouldn’t have trusted. I really hope it’s just because I was distracted by the screaming baby. Otherwise, it just means that I’m becoming my mother. I’ve always prided myself on my astuteness (i.e. my general mistrust). I also like to think I can properly spot a genuine person. But these powers utterly failed me here. I need to stay alert. Vigilant. I need to learn to work with a baby screaming in my ear. Otherwise, I’m as good as chum out there.

Notter with a Beard: Adrien Brody Edition

Aw hell nah. Though this post should really have its own category because what Mr. Brody has there is not, technically, a beard, but some horrible abomination of facial hair. I generally adore Brody’s sweet face and sensuous nose, but this shit makes him look like a serial date-rapist at a sorority party.

It’s made all the worse by his proximity to HWAB-alum, Keanu Reeves, who is rocking the sexy whiskers as per usual.

Figure it out, Brody. Please.

Here’s to the State of Mississippi

When reading about the recent, town-wide conspiracy against Constance McMillen, the gay high school senior who only wanted to take her girlfriend to prom, I couldn’t stop hearing Phil Ochs in my head. Phil Ochs was a folk singer in the 1960s and it frightens me how often his lyrics are still relevant.

“Here’s to the State of Mississippi” is about the unpunished murder of a black man and how such things were pretty much par for the course back then. Well, apparently nothing has changed. I really couldn’t say it any better than Mr. Ochs did:

Here’s to the schools of Mississippi
Where they’re teaching all the children that they don’t have to care
All of rudiments of hatred are present everywhere
And every single classroom is a factory of despair
There’s nobody learning such a foreign word as fair
Oh, here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of