Moral dilemmas in NW6

A true short story by @UKColin

I’ve fallen for my share of scam artists who approach with a sob story about needing bus or train fare to visit a sick relative, or because they’ve been mugged, or their car has broken down. On Saturday night, a man in a blue baseball cap approached me outside of Kilburn tube station with a familiar story.

His daughter had just fallen ill that day and he was trying to raise money for the tube fare to go visit her. I gave my standard, “Sorry, can’t help you,” and kept walking.

Late Sunday afternoon, I spotted the same bloke further up Maygrove Road, and although I recognised him, he evidently didn’t remember me. When he greeted me with the same story as the day before, I replied, “You tried that on me yesterday,” and kept walking.

He called after me, “Did it work?”

I turned and replied, “No, sorry.”

He then caught up with me and struck up a conversation. He revealed that he had a drug habit, and that’s why he needs the money. “I’d rather do it this way than mug an old lady,” he explained.

I was taken aback by his honesty and attempt at causing the least amount of harm to help himself. I debated whether to try to suggest that he try to get help for his drug problem, but all I could respond with at the time was, “Oh, well, good luck to you.”

After the fact, I wished I could have offered him some advice about treatment centres or ways to earn money without having to trick people for it. But I also wanted to congratulate him for not resorting to violence to feed his habit.

Then it dawned on me that I’d just had a longer conversation with this guy than I’d had with anyone living on Maygrove Road (apart from the neighbours I chat with over the garden fence) in the seven years I’d lived here. What does that say about me? What does it say about my NW6 neighbours?

Colin Bridgewater

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  • Anonymous

    I've lived in Maygrove Road for 34 years, I've been invited to one party, been next door for a cup of tea two or three times and chatted with a couple of neighbours "over the fence" apart from that nothing!
    (I was rescued when I locked myself out as well)

  • Anonymous

    Do you know what? I always believe in people, if they are conning me for some money, I can live with that. It's their life which is messed up not mine. If someone tells me they have a sick daughter? I will help if it sounds genuine. I once gave a girl 50 quid on West End Lane who was crying she needs to get to her injured son and I got her a cab. Was she telling the truth? I will never know,

  • Anonymous

    What it says about you is that you don’t have much time for anyone else. You probably find it easier to communicate via text than opening your mouth.
    Anyway, now we know what you look like, it will save the bother of trying to start any conversation with you, as it will only last for a minute or so, and then you’ll write about it later, feeling satisfied that you’ve done a day’s work and made the world a better place.

  • Anonymous

    Should have just given him some drugs.