I have been approached by the homeless on the sidewalk, in big box stores, and at street intersections, but never before approached in the creative—and scary—technique used by Kim.
My wife and I were leaving a Shell station late at night in a nearby town. I thought I had looked both ways and behind me, yet as I slowly backed away from the parking spot I heard a thump from the back of the car. A friend in the back seat exclaimed, “You hit someone! She’s on the ground.”
I had braked immediately, so I cut the engine and ran to the back of the car. A woman was on the ground writhing in pain and holding her leg. I apologized and asked her where she was hurt.
Her response was, “I hurt all over and especially my leg.”
I said, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
She said, “No, I’ll walk it off. I’m so sorry. I should have looked. I’m so sorry.” I insisted on helping her to stand and my wife offered to give her a ride home. She slowly got into the back seat of our car still moaning in pain, but not identifying any particular injury.
Her clothes were ragged and she was not dressed for the cool weather. I asked her if I could stop by a fast food restaurant and buy her a meal.
“No,” she said, “but you could give me money for a meal later. I really don’t feel like eating right now. I just want to lie down.” I asked her where she lived, and her answer was, “In the woods behind the Marriott.” I urged her to let us get her some food, and she insisted that she simply wanted to get to the wooded area about a mile from where I had “backed into her.”
By this time I was pretty sure the whole “accident” was bogus, but I carried through on her request and my wife gave her money. I pulled up to the spot she indicated. My wife asked her name and we all shook hands, then she slowly limped into the darkness of the woods.
After my heart rate slowed down from the fright I felt at having hit a pedestrian, I couldn’t help but admire Kim for her creative method of getting money. We debriefed on what had just happened, and our friend agreed that everything didn’t exactly fit with a true accident. I did not feel duped because she obviously needed the money much more than I did, and I’d figured out her angle before I actually gave her money. Her extensive act was worth twenty dollars, and rolling on the pavement probably did hurt her somewhat.
The whole experience motivated me to be even more vigilant in looking for pedestrians as I drive in traffic—especially when backing up at a Shell station!