The community is facing the embarrassment of having been taken for a ride by a scam artist. It happened on Monday, right at closing time. A man came in, saying he worked right across the street at...and he named a local business...whose name is featured in a second story window. Long story short, he had no way of getting to his car, which was parked at Armitage and Cicero (that's almost halfway to O'Hare from here), and would it be at all possible for someone to give him a ride, even though it would take about two hours in rush hour traffic? From that outrageous proposition, he suggested that if we had a bus pass to loan him, he would return it the next day and repay the amount spent. But when we produced a bus pass, suddenly it became very urgent that he be at O'Hare by 9:00 and how was he ever going to do it and couldn't we please in some way help him? In the end, he got away with a bus pass and taxi money. (Naturally, he hasn't been back.)
Unfortunately, it is hard to just send someone away with a "Good-bye and good luck" when you are wearing a religious habit and working in a religious setting. The sister who walked into the trap (literally) was pressured on several sides: the unexpected "need"; the late hour (right before closing); and the genuine desire to be of service--to someone who clearly was not going to leave the premises unless his pleas were addressed. From hindsight, it is easy to see the man's maneuver for what it was. By starting out asking an over-the-top favor, he worked his way down to getting just what he really came for: a bit of cash in hand (cash we really can't afford to spare); Sister was basically paying the guy to leave.
What galls me even more is that every time I find myself rehashing this in chapel, I remember that I ought to be praying for the dude.
Got any suggestions for dealing with the next scam artist who walks in the door?