She Took Your Money, But Hopefully Not Your Independence

This story of someone befriending and then ripping off a blind lady is another example of something I could see very easily happening to me if I just did one thing wrong. It also illustrates why, when someone offers to “help me” by taking my stuff, I’m not exactly willing to hand it over. I actually had a woman come up and without a word try to take my groceries. She couldn’t understand why my response wasn’t brimming with gratitude, and was more brimming with scream and flail. For future reference, words are wonderful things. Ask if you can help, and ask how. In that case, if she opened the door, that would have been immensely helpful. I had no problem carrying the stuff, but it made it hard to reach in my pocket for keys. Silently stealing my food out of my hands isn’t exactly immensely helpful.

The woman, who wished to be identified only as “Sally,” took a bus from her home in Sudbury, Ont. to Toronto for a medical appointment. She chose to make the journey on her own, without her daughter at her side.
Sally said she passed the time on the hours-long chartered bus trip by chatting with a woman seated beside her, who spoke of a rough life, marked by a failed stint in rehab and sadness over the death of her mother.
“I felt sorry for her. And then she was telling me she had no place to go,” Sally told CTV Toronto, explaining that her travel companion asked if she could go to Sally’s hotel room in the city.
“She asked to stay here, and I told her she could,” Sally said, recalling how they chatted for hours. But when Sally went to the bathroom, she says the woman rushed out of the hotel room.
“I came back out, and she was passing by me to go out. She said she was going to the vending machine,” Sally said. “(It) seemed weird, so I went and checked my jacket and my wallet. All my money was gone. I had $800 in there. She took my money.”
Sally said she rushed to the front desk, shouting after the woman. She was told the stranger was last seen getting into a cab. All she had left was the $100 she hid in her bra.

Good on her for having $100 in her bra. I would not have done that. But I also don’t carry that much cash. But that doesn’t mean someone couldn’t try to take something from me. One time, when I was in the states, I had some US cash, but since the bills all feel the same, I had different denominations in separate bundles with paperclips on them. After some money had been spent out of the 5’s bundle, it had the same number as the 50’s bundle. I went to tip the airport guy, and was quickly trying to find the right bundle and the right bill. If he hadn’t been honest, he could have taken me for 10 times what I was intending to offer. It can happen that easily, and especially for someone who might not be used to doing a little extra planning, like this woman who’s only been blind for 8 years.

I would like to believe that \I have a good gut instinct and 9 times out of 10, I obey it if something feels wrong, but there’s always that 10th time. I remember some circumstances where I have taken a ride or an offer of assistance during a particularly snowy night, and that gut has been screaming “Do you want to get killed? What the hell are you doing?” and I have done it anyway. Thankfully it’s turned out ok, but I’ve arrived home questioning if I have lost my mind.

I don’t know if I would have let a stranger share my hotel, but I am not blaming Sally. I’m just saying that a slick con artist probably would have found another way to get what they wanted if I didn’t pay attention.

Thankfully, the person who did it surrendered to police, and Sally got her money back and more thanks to a GoFundMe campaign, but still.

As one blind person to another, I really hope that Sally continues to travel alone, and her daughter doesn’t try to persuade her that she can’t do this. Honestly, most of the world isn’t made up of arseholes like that. Just learn from this, and I don’t mean turn into a hard-hearted person. Just develop a gut instinct and if you want to help this poor stranger, figure out a way to help without bringing the person too far into your world.

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