Thursday, July 28, 2011

...What the Hell Just Happened?

Today, a Haitian man offered me $20 to look up the name of a hotel in the Yellow Pages. He then told me that I "looked honest" and offered me $200 to hold $5,000 in cash for him for half an hour while he went off and slept with a prostitute.

...I am not making this up.

The guy came up to me while I was locking my bike outside Radio Shack. He asked me if I worked there (I'm wearing shorts and a cross-country T-shirt), asked if I spoke French (Me: "Un peu"), then asked me to find "Brownstone Hotel" in the Yellow Pages for him, and kept saying he'd pay me $20. I told him that I didn't have a Yellow Pages on me, and he said "Oh! They do" and led me into the check-cashing place next door. I looked through the yellow and white sections, and surprise surprise, no such hotel exists in Milwaukee. (Google Maps confirms this.)

This total stranger then proceeded to confide in me that he'd just met a prostitute up the block and was intending to go sleep with her, but he had $5,000 in "insurance money" that he feared she would somehow steal. He told me that I looked like an honest type, and offered me $200 if I would be back at this location in half an hour with the money. I told him that he could probably use the money more than I could if he was a recent immigrant, and he started talking about a will and inheritance money and a supposed $150,000 in cash that was waiting somewhere for him. I suggested that he open an account at North Shore Bank, which is up the street a few blocks from that location, and deposit his money there; he told me that he'd left all his identification at the hotel (another hotel?) and that the prostitute was waiting on him.

Of course, I turned the guy down. I was going to go buy a video camera, for Chrissakes, not get into some ridiculous Haitian imbroglio. How do I know that anything the guy is saying is true? What if the money wasn't his, i.e. stolen? What if he didn't come back; what the hell do I do with it? I repeatedly said no, and he kept saying "Don't you want to earn some money? You look like an honest guy!" Yep, and at the risk of self-congratulation, maybe a little too honest for this kind of shady weirdness.

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