It was one of those crowded supermarket moments where I did that which-way-are-you-going-right-left-right-left dance with a guy coming the other way. (Come on, it’s like driving. Keep right.) We both rolled our eyes, shook our heads and smiled at the awkwardness. I backed up and waved him through.
We encountered each other a few aisles later. I nodded recognition and said, “We meet again.”
He replied, “Say, could you help me out? I need some cash for gas.”
Uh-oh, he’s hitting me up for money.
He continued, holding out a credit or debit card, “I’ll pay for your groceries if you can give me the amount in cash.”
Huh? “Um, I only have about six or seven bucks in cash.”
“That’ll be enough.”
“Um, okay.” We made our way to the self-checkout as I tried to figure if there was a scam and how it might work. I couldn’t see one.
I rang up my stuff. A little over nine dollars. As he used his card to pay I wondered why he didn’t choose to get cash back. And I wondered why he didn’t use the card to get the gas he said he needed. Or if he didn’t really need gas, why didn’t he buy something cheap—a pack of gum or whatever—and get cash back? Strange. But I gave him my seven dollars and off he went.
I’m trying to figure the damage here. The store got its money and I got my groceries at a discount. My card never left my wallet, so he couldn’t have gotten the numbers or PIN. He’s the one who came up short. Did he realize that? Did his need for cash mess with his ability to reason? Or am I the one who can’t see I was suckered?