Epilogue: "My friend, would you be interested in making fifty or sixty thousand dollars." I laughed and walked away.
I was in the Bay department store last weekend. Just checking their (ever present) weekend sales when I noticed them out of the corner of my eyes. Two men, caught up in conversation over by the sales rack examining dress shirts. Brothers, I initially thought or perhaps good friends chatting away examining the merchandise. Whatever didn't waste too much brain power on them as I was just doing a quick search of similar racks myself to see if there were any worthwhile deals.
However being cognizant of my surroundings I later heard "well it was nice meeting you my friend, what was your name again?"
Strange I thought and the alarms went off in my head. So they actually were strangers chatting like old friends? Hmmm I never would have guessed. That doesn't usually happen in the T-dot. Here we are known for our rude and churlish big city behaviour towards strangers so unless one of the cats was a recent immigrant then hmmm something just doesn't seem right here.
Shields to maximum strength!
One man left and as it happened the other dude casually sauntered over to the messy rack I was sorting through, nothing in my size or any style or price that I would like.
"Its always difficult to find your size isn't it?" he said as if reading my mind. Ok so that's the ice breaker I thought appearing absentmindedly but aware that he would continue trying to start a conversation.
"Yea, guess that's what happens with these sales" I said appearing not to give full attention to my suitor although I was carefully checking every move the cat made. He continued to dig into the pile of dress shirts 15 1/2, 18 1/2, 13 1/2. No 16 or 16 1/2.
"Are you from Africa my friend?" he asked.
Well right to the chase I see and although I thought it was very presumptuous for him to assume I was from Africa cause I'm black and living in the GTA I inwardly smiled cause I knew the hunt was on. I had become a target but one who was aware he was being hunted. Hmmm how do we play this? Lets mix it up.
"No!" I said still not appearing to pay full attention, still pulling random items out the rack and examining their quality and sleeve length but mind churning as I'm trying to decide if I lie from the outstart or just play oblivious to his scam for a bit. Lets make him work for the actual answer.
"Where are you from?" ah I said to myself he's definitely interested. Meanwhile mind is thinking hmm you know what the men's business attire section is definitely a great place for a scam why didn't I think of that? Location location, location! I mean dudes with possible money to spend and probable decent jobs. Great prospects if you work it right.
"The Caribbean" I said dragging out the dance a few steps longer. Yes I am evil.
"The Caribbean? What island brother? Jamaica?"
All wunnah know is Jamaica I silently chupsed to myself but didn't give away anything on my face.
"No, Barbados." Head and hands still intent on the clothing rack.
"Oh Barbados!" he paused ever so slightly thinking what comes next.
"Oh wow Barbados! That's a great place my friend, great weather." he said with ebullience.
"Why are you here in this weather"
"I ask myself that question daily man"
"How long have you've been here?"
"A few years." I'm hemming and hawing or rather bobbing and weaving like two opponents feeling out each other in a boxing ring. I'm waiting for another exploratory jab cause I grow bored of the game but I did finally make eye contact just to give him some hope.
I know he has a finite opportunity to get in my good graces for the con but yet he only has a slight window into which to throw the scam without it looking like a scam. I'm trying not to smile. Got him where I wanted! He's the one with something to aim for I'm just playing casual cause I know where this ends.
As an aside even if I hadn't clued into him before he approached me the my friend schnick is always an alarm bell for me in these situations.
Anyways we tip toe around the rack like swordsmen seeking strategic footing before the next thrust and parry but I'm feeling like I should play hard to get plus dude isn't playing this as natural as he could if he was a pro. He looks like he's ready to spring the con or at least lay down some more chat to get past my defenses when suddenly I just say "alright guy take care" and leave the rack with purposeful strides, moving around a column to the tie section.
Sorry couldn't hold back the smile cause I could tell he was going to screw up the scam with his next statement. I had to move away and regroup. Dude's an amateur though this much is for certain. Lets see if he follows?
I spent the next few minutes back turned to the predator but well aware of his location pretending that I was examining some well ugly expensive ties. He moved away from the rack as well but he didn't follow me. He seemed to be weighing the pros and cons of continuing our conversation but then he wandered off in the other direction possibly scenting easier and possibly more lucrative prey. Good I thought, at least he didn't embarrass himself with the force ripe con he trying to lay down.
Except it wasn't over.
Circled the column back to another set of dress shirts just as I was getting ready to leave cause I was rather bored with this whole shopping experience. He was circling the area like it was his territory still and my path led me into his trajectory so he made a swift move towards me as I settled on a table full of light blue dress shirts one of which I was touching to check its quality.
"My friend, my friend!" he said just a tad bit too excitedly. I looked up.
"So what do you do my friend?"
Too rushed son, big mistake. I lied, something about computers yada yada. "Oh really, that's good, how is that business going these days yada yada
I lied a bit threw in a few computer words: java, wicket, swing to impress him that I knew what I was talking about. For the record I don't know what they mean but conversing with techies you pick up things.
"I do business all over the US and Canada" he said.
"Oh really," I said not really too excited since I was preoccupied with thinking about how poor a con man this cat was and how bored I was getting. Yawn! Damn man even I could run this game better than you and I'm that suspicious looking big black dude.
"Yes my friend and you know its fortunate that I am meeting you here as we are doing some business in THE BARBADOS." OK J suppress smile.
"Me and my business partners we're having a bit of a problem though. Do you know anyone down there that could help us out."
I hemmed and hawwed some more pretending to be thinking about it. "No not really cant think of anyone."
"Nope no family, I really have no connections down there"
"My friend we really need some help with this issue in THE BARBADOS. My friend, would you be interested in making fifty or sixty thousand dollars." I laughed and walked away.
ps: you guys are all going to say i could have walked away from word one and that's true but then hey I wouldn't have gotten this story.