Says It Pays To Be A Nice Guy?
©copyright 1998 Bill Galloway
Am I an idiot or what?
|You've probably heard the cliché that it
doesn't pay to be a nice guy, well based upon my experience, I know this to be sometimes
true. I've had more than enough instances in my life where people have taken advantage of
me because I actually am 'a nice guy' and they have even lied to me to get what they want.
Has this ever happened to you? Let me share with you my most recent experience in which
this occurred. I drive a cab for a living; and a couple of months ago I picked up an
attractive young woman who used her charm and wit to take advantage of my good nature and
get a free cab ride. This woman, who told me her name was Lee Eldin, could not pay for her
cab fare and also lied to me about paying me back.
Lee Eldin, if that is her real name, told me that she had just completed a drug
rehabilitation program and was on her way home to Paso Robles, which she said was on the
other side of the state in Southern California. She needed a ride to the Santa Rosa Amtrak
bus stop just a few miles away from where I picked her up at. Although Lee told me that
she did not have any money before she got into the cab, she assured me that I would be
paid. She claimed to have cash waiting for her via a money gram through Western Union. So
I, being all too helpful and trusting, did not hesitate to offer my taxi cab services to
Even though I thought Lee was cute, my motivation to help was really just to be a nice
guy. Besides, she was already married. Lee told me that she was attempting to get her life
back in order so that she could be with her two-year-old child. The courts had separated
her from her daughter and husband while she was going through the process of getting clean
and sober. I was touched by her sad story and honestly believed that she was going through
a difficult period of transition. However, the more we talked, the less sympathetic I felt
toward her situation. Lee's husband was still using drugs and; although she claimed to
have quit even before going into a drug treatment program, she became sober not for
herself, but to satisfy a court order. This makes me think that she will eventually go
back to using drugs again.
Looking back on this experience, I also realize that I too was guilty of abandoning good
judgement. I consider myself to be a fair judge of character, but this time I was duped.
And to justify my actions, I told myself that I was doing a good deed; and besides that it
was not a busy morning so I wasn't losing other cab fares. Despite my rationalizations, it
was my mistake to expect payment, knowing full well that she did not have any money
regardless of her circumstances. But instead of denying her a cab ride, I offered to help
anyway. I figured that I would get paid once we found a place where she could get access
to the money that she claimed to have waiting for her.
First, we stopped at an automotive repair shop down the street from where I picked Lee up,
so she could barrow a phone book to find a place that offers Western Union's services.
Next, we went to two supermarkets. Lee was in and out of the first store within a few
minutes, but was gone for about a half an hour at the second location. The first
supermarket no longer carried Western Union's services; and unfortunately for me there
wasn't any money waiting for her at the other place that we checked either.
By this point, I was rather annoyed with Lee. She had just wasted close to an hour of my
time. The meter had run to about twenty dollars; and I felt confused about how I should
handle this situation. It was obviously moving from bad to worse. To help her save money,
I even shut the meter off for a short period of time while she checked on the status of
her supposed funds.
I was hesitant about getting the police involved. Although, I knew at this point that Lee
was a screwed-up individual, a part of me still wanted to help her. For some odd reason I
felt like I was doing the right thing. Maybe I should have my head examined? The other
reason I did not call the police is because I did not want to see her arrested and go to
jail. Besides that, I would not only still be out the money that she now owed me, but more
importantly, I'd be losing a considerable amount of money by not being out on the road
seeking other fares. Either way I looked at it, I was caught in a losing battle.
Also, little did I know at the time that I was playing perfectly into Lee's scheme.
This woman, who could have easily won an academy award for her acting performance, became
emotionally distraught and I thought that she was going to start crying. So instead of
confronting her about the money that she now owed me, I felt sorry for her. And even
though I was suspicious and did not trust her, I gave her ten dollars so that she could
pay for her bus trip home. Am I an idiot or what? Lee was thrilled by my generosity. She
smiled and gave me a warm hug goodbye as well as promised to send me thirty dollars to
cover the cost of the cab ride and the money that she borrowed from me.
Lee assured me that I would receive the money that she owed me within a few days. I
realize that you can not always take people at their word, especially a complete stranger,
so I took a necklace of hers as collateral, which she reluctantly gave me. Lee told me
that the necklace had sentimental value because her grandmother gave it to her. This made
me think that this might encourage her to pay me back that much sooner. Well, I thought
wrong. Although we exchanged addresses, after two weeks had passed without a response from
her, I realized that I had been taken. Out of the slim hope that Lee might have
accidentally lost my address, I decided to mail her a letter reminding her of our
agreement. By this point, I wasn't too surprised when my letter was returned to me a few
days later. She had given me a false address.
Looking back now, I can see that I was not upset about the money. What disturbs me most of
all is that Lee did not keep her word with me. And while the majority of people who I give
cab rides to will not only pay me, but will also leave me a tip, this is not the first
time that someone has taken advantage of my good nature. You see, I also made the mistake
of telling her about a similar situation in which I had gotten an Italian made suit that
was one size too large for me from a passenger who could only pay me twenty dollars on a
eighty dollar cab fare. This gentleman and I say that rather loosely, promised to pay me
back too; and I never heard from him again. I called the police that next day and was told
by an officer of the law that once you make a barter agreement with someone it moves from
being a criminal matter into being a civil one.
In hindsight, it was not wise of me to divulge this information to Lee, as I was providing
her with the knowledge that allowed her to take advantage of me. But at the time, I also
did not know that I was going to be getting ripped-off again. I tend to give people the
benefit of the doubt, however, the next time something like this happens I will be more
cautious and might even call the police. But in all honesty, I am not sure exactly what I
will do in the future. What I do know is that I wanted to write a story about how someone
took advantage of me for being a nice guy.