Beware the crime victim from Camden | Arkansas Blog

Beware the crime victim from Camden

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BEWARE: Supposed crime victim tapped me here.
  • BEWARE: Supposed crime victim tapped me here.

A story since it's a slow morning:

I went to dinner at the relocated Vesuvio at Breckenridge and Rodney Parham last night. (Fine meal.) We went in two cars. When the other driver arrived, he walked up to the table and said, "Well, I got hit up by the guy from Camden who needs gas again."

The guy from Camden? Gas? AGAIN?

Suddenly an incident in my life became clear. 

I went for groceries a couple of weeks ago to the Kroger on Cantrell Road. It was Sunday morning, a time when most bad guys are in bed.

As I rolled my cart to the car, a car pulled up — a clean, nearly new Chevy The driver, a clean-cut young white man in business casual clothing rolled down his window. He said something like this:

"I just got up and found someone stole my wallet from the car. I know it was really stupid to leave it there. I work for Lion Oil company." [At this point, he displayed  a laminated photo ID card, but I confess I didn't inspect it closely]

He pointed to an official looking clipboard as evidence of the work he'd been doing. 

"I'm broke. They took my money and credit cards. I need some gas to get back to Camden. I'm really sorry. I'll pay you back. Is there anyway you could help?"

I had a single $20 in my wallet. I could have walked  back into the store to get some change, but, what the heck. It was Sunday. I gave it to him. He thanked me profusely. He asked how he could pay me back. He picked up a pen to write something down. I said, "Just go to arktimes.com. You'll find an address. Send me a check."

He asked directions to the nearest gas station. I gave them.

Needless to say, no check has arrived. And, my friend tells me, this fellow has been working parking lots in the city for a good while, always aiming to get back to Camden. It apparently makes for pretty good steady work. And an ongoing lesson in human psychology. Who could doubt a polite white man from Camden?

I confess feeling something wasn't quite right about the story spun for me that morning. Leave a wallet in your car overnight? And I thought maybe the poor fellow from Camden was just confused when he turned a different direction than I'd suggested to get gas. But he seemed like such a clean-cut and earnest young man. And his new car was spotless. So there you go. And there my $20 went.

The rest of the hard-luck story file: The next morning. I went to Boulevard on Main Street to get a cup of coffee to take to work. A young, disheveled black man stopped me and said he was hungry. Could I help him get something to eat?

Hah. I was ready for that old ploy.

"Sure," I said. "Come in and I'll buy you breakfast."

To my surprise, he happily agreed.

A bit ashamed that I'd suspected he was just looking for beer money, I told him to order away,

He chose the most expensive item on the breakfast menu — the breakfast sandwich, a creation including fancy Italian bacon (pancetta) on artisan bread.

Could he get something to drink, he asked?

Sure.

"Cafe mocha," he said. "Large."

Bon appétit, I thought to myself as I lumbered back to my car with a plain black coffee and a bagel.

Anybody else encountered the unlucky young man from Camden?


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