In the fall we noticed a homeless man, along with his possessions, sitting or lying down under a tree near McDonald's on the Walmart parking lot. We've had a very mild autumn, but suddenly the weather was predicted to take a nasty turn.
The other day, outside Taco Bell we saw his three drawer plastic chest, a sleeping bag and duffel bag bungee strapped together. Inside Taco Bell I saw the man wearing a veteran's cap, sitting alone texting on a cell phone. Hmm. Made me wonder. I asked the counter girl if she knew anything about him. She knew his name and that he's homeless, hangs out there sometimes, and hadn't ordered any food.
I finished my meal and told Bill I was going to buy this guy something to eat. Inquiring minds like to know. Bill says I'm just plain nosy. Either way, I wanted the scoop and thought perhaps I could suggest social services for this homeless vet.
"Hi there. My name is Linda. I've seen you hanging around this area. I assume you're homeless."
The sixty-something year old guy looked up from his phone with a clear look in his eyes. He was clean.
"My name's Dennis, and my homelessness is temporary. I made a big mistake. I was married 28 years, but I screwed up. I admit it was all my fault. But my situation is just temporary."
I asked if he was from in town or if he had ever worked. "Oh yeah lived near here all my life and I worked at the newspaper." Then he lowered his head and said meekly, "But I only cleaned up the place." I assured him a job is a job. He said he is now on Social Security.
I told him the mild weather was over and a brutal winter was on its way the next day. He said he slept outside at the bus stop, and the police didn't bother him. I said, "Well it will be too cold soon. You need to get off the street."
He said with great assurance in his voice, "Well I'll be on my way to Kentucky in a couple days. I'm getting married again."
"Where did you meet her? On the Internet?" I joked.
"Yes, how did you know?" He was serious. "Her grandma died and left her a 2 million dollar mansion, but there's one stipulation. She has to be married to receive the house. She said she's talking to other guys on line, so I know I'm not the only one. She just contacted me, and said she is on her way to the bank now. So now, she can't make it up here to pick me up until the end of the month. She needs just $250.00 to complete the bank transaction so we can get the house, and then she's driving here to pick me up. You want to see her picture?"
"SHE" was a 21 year old buxom model, a picture pulled off the Internet. I said, "Dennis, someone is going to get 2 million if all you guys keep sending HER $250.00 dollars of your Social Security. This is a scam. I know people who have fallen for this same scam, and it is the same photo. There is some guy somewhere collecting your money. In a P.O. box, right?"
"Yeah, how did you know? Same girl?" It was obvious by now this guy was a bit challenged. Bill came over and explained how the scam works.
Dennis said, "Well you aren't the only people who have told me this. I was sure hoping she'd be here to pick me up, soon. She was supposed to be here last week, but she needed fees for bank papers to fill out for the inheritance."
I said, "Dennis she isn't coming. Take your $250, go to the Veteran's Administration down the road, and let them help you get a place."
"Yeah, I thought about that," he said.
So the man said his "fiancee" texted she'd be here by the end of the year to whisk him off, marry him, and plunk him right down in a 2 million dollar mansion in Kentucky.
We bought the guy a meal and wished him well.
"You really DO know someone else she sent her picture to? Same gal?"
I nodded and said, "The scam has been all over the news."
He dropped his head. I killed his enthusiasm, hopes, and dreams. I unwrapped his virtual present and showed him the contents which contained a virtual lump of coal. I feel terrible.
I went to Walmart yesterday. Dennis was nowhere to be seen. I would like to hang onto his fantasy that this young pretty little gal came for him, and he's wandering a mansion in KY. But you and I both know better. All I can do is pray for the man.