Benefit of doubt
I was waiting for the underground train, around a year ago at my home city. While waiting for the train to arrive, I was thinking something. Suddenly a man approached me.
He was short, dark, and much elder than me. He was wearing old trousers and an unstuckd shirt, both of which looked very old and faded too. He had a certain type of necklace made out of a certain type of beads, and a red Tilak on his forehead, which indicated he possibly is some kind of a devotee to a specific goddess.
He told me that he was in a trouble, and he was new in the city and lives far from here in a rural area in our state. His accent also indicated he was from that region of the state. Then he asked me if I can help him somehow. He was very polite and gentle.
I would most of the time just absolutely ignore such things, given the number of scams going on (both outside and inside). Sometimes I offer them to help my taking them to the nearest police assistance center. Although, a very few times I do go with the situation and actually believe that the other person is true. For example here Frauds in the city.
This time I decided, okay he may be new here and wanted directions or whatever, because I have seen people from different places coming first time in this city and getting lost (they will typically have no smart phones, so no GPS and stuff). Sometimes some people will one piece of paper with an address written on it. Next the man asked me if I could give 7.50 Rupees for the bus ride from where he will get down, as he lost his purse. 7.50 Rupees is nothing, for reference, it’s around 10 cents. Though it is enough for a bus ride.
First thought, how did he get inside the underground metro station platform. It will cost him atleast 5 Rupees to get a ticket and scan it to get in three platform. Second thought, there is no bus fare in 0.50 Rupees these days. Also, a person who does not know his or her route, cannot precisely tell the bus fare like that.
But, okay, these are thoughts, I do not know the real deal. Maybe someone at his home has told to take such a route and told the fares from his or her older experience, which is a very viable explanation. Also, maybe he had some money in his pockets to just but the underground metro ticket, and then find his wallet is missing. This is also a very justified explanation, as many people, including me keep the exact change for the underground metro ticket in easy reach, outside the wallet, for faster processing and the long and crowded queues.
I told okay, here you go and gave him 8.00 Rupees. He took it and thanked be many times and blessed me. Then he went away and stood for the train to arrive.
Within a minute or less, he came back and asked me if he could talk to me about something. I told okay. He then told, I was very good and kind, but it would be even helpful if I can give him 37.00 Rupees, as he haven’t eaten anything for long.
First thoughts, this is going towards a set scam plot, asking for the exact amount is for showing authenticity of the need. Although, extending the previous justifications which I made, if this man is really in a need, and a person has helped him, then possibly it’s the best idea to approach that person again to get a bit more necessary help. I would have done that.
I told okay, and gave him 40 Rupees. It’s enough to get food. Not a ridiculous amount of money but 40 is kind of handing out one day of travel money for the distance I used to travel those days, which included a taking a bus to the underground then again a bus to the destination, and then back at the end of the day. Though it was fine for me, especially if it is really helpful for the person.
He again told that how good a person I was, and blessed me. Then he started talking about his devotion on goddess Kali and his beliefs. I heard and appreciated, as it seemed he really was dedicated. Next he told something striking.
He told me not to tell anyone that he has a special piece of cloth. The cloth is drenched in blood of a goat which was sacrificed on some ceremony to Godess Kali at a very special occasion. If I touch that cloth and think of my wishes keep it under my pillow, my wishes will become true and I will be successful in education and many other aspects of my life. Then he told me, as I was very kind, be wanted to give me that cloth so that I can keep it for some time and get my wishes fulfilled. I told no, I don’t need it, but thank you for offering.
He argued that why not, why suffer and struggle so much, when you can get what you want from goddess Kali. I told again that I would not need it as I will try myself to get my wishes fulfilled.
Now, next what happened absolutely pissed me off which I will describe why. He told me, once someone knows about the sacred piece of cloth, and denies accepting it, the person gets bad luck and he would face bad things in future as it is a disrespect to the goddess Kali. He wants me to be safe and therefore I need to pay him a sum of 500 Rupees so he can go back to his place and meet me the next day at this location to hand over the piece of cloth.
I told, “no”. He came even closer to me, I tried to keep a distance. He kept on telling that I have to take it, and if it doesn’t work, he will return the money. He was polite and gentle throughout the entire time.
I told him that, “first you asked for the bus fare then you asked for the food money, and now you are trying to get more money”. He told it was not for him, it was in the name of the godess Kali, which if I don’t give will be disrespectful for the goddess.
This was a classic type of passive manipulation. The aggressor sets a target to achieve then sets a situation in such a way that the victim is passively forced to fall for whatever the aggressor wants, without the aggressor being directly accounted for.
I just walked away to the other part of the platform. He tried to follow but not for long. The train arrived till then. I skipped the train and observed what the man did. He did not board the train, but waited for a few more minutes and then went out of the platform, which needs scanning the ticket and checking out.
Practically speaking, this was definitely a scam, and by psychologically blackmailing. Technically speaking, I always somehow find that maybe that person just believed in what he told me and genuinely wanted good for me. Yes, it is stupid to think like that, but it technically is a valid scenario.
There are a few situations giving benefit of doubts got situations out of hand, but from most of it the observations gets a lot insight into human behaviour. This one costed me 48 Rupees, 5 mins wait for the next train.