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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Crippled crook

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Flying Dutchman
Flying Dutchman
For detailed biographical information, please check the very first article of this blog. Thanks!

Despite Taiwan not being a so-called welfare state, one of the many good things about living here is the almost total absence of annoying beggars in daily life. 

During my three years in Spain, from 2018 to 2021, I was molested by an average of three persons, locals and foreigners, every time I sat on a terrace, including a quite well-dressed older lady, who directly asked me for two (!) euros at a very popular market hall.

At least a few of them, mostly illegal African immigrants pampered by the current Leftist government, were after all trying to sell something, but this almost clockwork-like procedure was irritating anyway.

Until this week, during my over 20 decades on this island, I was asked for money by just two people, and who looked quite needy. However. I couldn’t even remember when it had happened to me for the last time.

Well, though it was clear to me from the moment I saw the guy that he was a con artist, at the end of 2022 I finally let myself being tricked out of one US dollar here in Taipei.

It was my first ride after a serious bicycle accident almost six months ago, which resulted in a badly injured right elbow. The required surgery and rehabilitation had prevented me from using city-owned YouBike again until this week.

Spontaneously, I decided to give it a new try to see how my arm would react to the challenge and do some exercise outside the reopened gym near my home.

I was waiting a at traffic light on my way to a second-hand shop operated by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation, a Taiwanese international humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 1966.

A man around 50 years old, who had parked his scooter on the nearest zebra-crossing in a way that it nearly looked like a roadblock, was talking to an elderly couple, which apparently weren’t responsive to him.

When he spotted me, obviously a foreigner, he immediately came over. I pretended not to be able to speak Chinese, but to my surprise he switched into acceptable English right away.

He supposedly had run out of gas and because of his allegedly crippled wrist, which he was very eager to show me immediately, he couldn’t push it to the next gas station. Knowing that it was all fake, I only wanted to see how the scam would end.

When I told him that I didn’t have any 100 NT$ bills, he said that a 50 NT$ coin would also help. As I thought that even that was too much, I gave him only 30 NT$, which he happily accepted.

He then thanked me and went back to his means of transportation, which he started right away, providing ultimate proof that I had just willingly made a complete fool out of myself.

At least he proved to be a charming swindler: before he drove away, he looked in my direction, smiled broadly and said “Thank you” again. What a pleasure to be cheated by a gentleman…

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