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It’s always sort of an awkward thing when a stranger approaches you for money (I prefer them just emailing the request from Ethiopia or London).

When I was a kid, I can remember a woman coming up to my mother at Grand Central Station. She had a very long tale about how she lost her wallet and needed train fare. She explained that if my mother would give her money for a ticket, she would mail her a check as soon as she got home.

It must have been one long ass train ride because my mom is still waiting to be reimbursed.

Of course, an Indianapolis man recently received a love letter in the mail that was sent 53 years ago so there is no reason for my mom to give up hope just yet.

And not long ago, a man approached my husband Rick at the drugstore. The man had apparently lost his wallet and needed train fare home.  (I guess they teach this particular story in the online college course, “How To Separate People From Their Money Without Really Trying.”)

But believing the best in people, Rick gave him $20.

Because I, too, am a generous person, I thought we should have also offered him a lift to the liquor store. I mean, who wants to walk in this heat?!

So I couldn’t help feel sorry for my babysitter when she showed up at my house last week with her own a-stranger-wants-money-from-me story.

Apparently a woman came up to her at a gas station in a dire situation. The woman claimed that her car had run out of gas so she walked a mile to this gas station. But unfortunately, she had also left her wallet and ID at home. The station was refusing to give her any gas.

The whole no wallet/no ID/no gas situation seemed a bit suspect to my sitter. But heck, at least this story didn’t involve a train!

My very nice babysitter and her boyfriend decided to buy the woman some gas. They drove her to the car and then went home.

End of story.

Or so they thought.

The next day, just by chance, my sitter bumped into this very same woman at the mall. The woman ran up to her, profusely thanked her for all the help and gave her $50 bucks to express her gratitude.

I like this story.  And not just because my sitter got an unexpected financial windfall.

It just reminds me to be compassionate. Because sometimes people really do need help (not just a bottle of Malibu rum).

By the way, I’m collecting money for marriage counseling for Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony so that these two musical lovebirds can reunite.  It’s obviously a very important cause and I know you will do everything you can to help.  It’s way too late to save Bennifer but we can save Marcennifer! You can just pay me directly via paypal. Thank you in advance!

26 Responses to i just need train fare.

  • Jessica says:

    Wow, that’s pretty great.

    And I would give you money, but I lost my wallet. Or, um, forgot my PayPal password. Or something. I’m going to need some fortification to get through the password recovery process, so it would really help if you could mail me some tequila.

  • Abby Siegel says:

    I will say that when I accidentally left my cell phone on a train and someone found it, I was so grateful that I forced $20 in to her hand when she kept saying “NO!” I can’t believe the babysitter ran into the gas lady at the mall!

  • Kerri says:

    Great story! I lost my cell while with the kids doing skits on the street…someone turned it into a store so when I called, I got to go get it. Another time dd lost hers out of her pocket when test riding a horse and the people went to the trouble of tracking down a charger so they could figure out who it belonged to & we got it back. Then same dd borrowed my phone & left it on her lap. She forgot it was there when she got out to get the mail from the mailbox by the road (we live in the country) it fell on the ground. If the people that found it had called the number right away (it was charged) I would have walked down the drive way to get it. I actually figured it had fallen around there, but when I went to look it was gone. The other people had picked it up. They called from their house, so I had to drive to go get it…but I did get it back!That was until I lost it horse back riding in a field…I needed a new phone anyways!

  • Honest Mum says:

    Thanks for sharing your sitter’s story. I too have been ‘had’ by so called forgettful people who’ve lost their wallets/cars/sanity but to remember that’s not everyone is important and that those who can, should help regardless. Love your new charitable cause too!

  • Melissa says:

    I needed to hear that story after the horrible
    things we’ve recently been hearing in the media.
    Whew, there are still honest people out there!

  • Becky says:

    It reminds me of the story I read in the NY Times this Spring called The Tire Iron and the Tamale. Just when I’m done with humanity, I hear about something that makes it all better for me. Thanks for keeping the good vibes humming along.

  • OHmommy says:

    That reminds me of the Catholic Relief Services paying for our four flights from Austria to Chicago in 1981. My mother walked into the CRS offices in her stilettos one summer day in 1991 and wrote them a check for our flights. They were shocked. I love that story.

  • Amanda says:

    My husband and I were just discussing how we should give up our regular jobs and become panhandlers. If only the insurance benefits were better.

    Love the babysitter’s story!

  • Good story. I once found a wallet with $400 cash in it (no lie). I called the person and they were like “wow, you’re so honest! awesome! we’ll come get it when we get back from our vacation in Nice.” And they didn’t give me a reward. Not even a french t-shirt. I need to hang out at more gas stations.

  • kelsey says:

    When we moved to our new neighborhood, a neighbor on our block got $50 out of Dennis with a sob story about being locked out. The option was to babysit his Rottweiler for a few hours or could he borrow $50 for a car service that takes dogs to go get a set of keys in Manhattan. I thought Dennis was CRAZY – especially since Dennis assumed he’d never get it back (we have experience with these kinds of neighbors/drug addicts) but then the guy came back and somehow swindled another $15 out of me. Obviously we didn’t move to Westport!

  • The sitter’s story was awesome. Living in a big city can really make you jaded. On Christmas eve, I was doing last minute shopping for my girls, and 3 different people came up to me with the “my car won’t start. I can’t reach any of my family by phone. All I have is $10, but the taxi company said it would charge me $20 to get home.” I think they all went to scam artist school together.

  • Stasha says:

    My husband lost our car and apartment keys on the mountain while snowboarding. The bus driver let us ride without fare. Off course all that would not happen if my husband skied like I do. You don’t flip upside down with your pocket zipper opened, right?

  • Rachael says:

    This is an awesome story. What an uplifting change to the scammers out there. You are right, it reminds me that sometimes, it just pays off to be compassionate, because maybe that train fare really was lost. Maybe.

  • Brittany says:

    Ironically, after I read your post yesterday, I was eating dinner outside and a woman approached me. She said she and her children (who were with her) were homeless (they did not look homeless). I immediately thought of you, and I suggested a nearby women and children shelter. She said that it was full (which was probably true) and then I was seriously considering giving her money when my companion told her no…. I still feel badly I didn’t give her money anyway…

    • Kelcey says:

      I feel still guilty about not giving someone money for a stamp at a post office like 15 years ago. I mean, the guy was asking for 30 cents!
      Make a contribution to that women/children’s shelter.

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kelcey kintner