Friday, January 25, 2013


The Before Picture. I'm not showing the after. It was suppose to be fun.

It's just about midnight. I'm sitting at my desk in Hello Kitty pants. My hair is a mess as I have run my hands through it one too many times. It was sleek and pretty at the beginning of the evening.  My cheeks are damp with tears and my eyeliner is smudged. Only hours before I had stopped in to Sephora to touch up my make up and make sure that it was picture perfect.

It was suppose to be a good night. A much needed night out with girlfriends. Drinks, appetizers music. Fun. I wore a skirt which was reserved for nights such as this.

The outing was scheduled at a bar I had never heard of in the mission. I made my way from Powell Street Bart to the restaurant. I held my purse close to me, but it was a lively atmosphere, and I wasn't afraid. The restaurant was not what I expected it was posh and elegant. It was quiet, not like the funky bars we have visited in the past. I was early. I found a seat at the empty bar and ordered a drink.

Everything went down hill from there. I hesitate to outline the details of  the night because they literally make me blush with shame. I feel sick to my stomach. SICK.

He was an older African American man in a fine suit. He claimed to be 71 years old and in remission from cancer. He annoyed me at first. I found him to be overbearing and disingenuous. Something bugged me about him. But he was joined by a younger awkward man who looked much like my husband. A normal fellow who was clearly wooing a client.

The older man continued to try and make conversation with me, I tried to shrug him off, but felt rude and uncomfortable and eventually joined the two men at a table. The younger man "Nick" is an artist who had been contacted by the older gentleman "John" to consign some artwork for a new building John had recently purchased in Chicago. The story got grander and grander. John said he was in fact a famous Motown songwriter who had penned some of most historic music to come out of a generation. I believed him.

My friends arrived and I left John and Nick to their business meeting. Later the two joined our group and John told me that because I was so "sweet" he was going to give me some music. He asked me to request "Mack The Knife" from the band and dance with him. I did. He was a sweet older man, who was a rock-and-roll legend and cancer survivor. I danced two dances with him. He spoke about his wife and grandchildren and charmed me, my friends and even Nick.

As the night wore on I grew tired and wanted to go home. I was saying my goodbyes, but John begged me to stay so that he could introduce me to his granddaughter who was downstairs. He asked Nick for a few bucks to tip her limo. He went down the stairs and vanished.

I went for my purse to pay my portion of the bill. My purse was under the table. Right were John's feet had been. My purse no longer held my wallet, but my BART card was on the table. At least he left me a way home.

Our group slowly began to put the pieces together and we realized we had been duped. He had taken my wallet along with about $60 that was on the table.

The cops were called and they came to take our statements. I had a picture of John on my phone, which I am incredibly ashamed of now. I thought he was a celebrity.

The police knew him in an instant. He was just released from jail three months ago. He has been telling this story for years.

 He mostly prays on women who are nice enough to listen to him. Who think it is sweet that a 70 year old man is talking about his wife as the "love of his life." Who are flattered that an aging celebrity wants to teach them to swing dance.  As I told my story to the officers one of them chuckled and said "I can't believe you bought that."

I nearly lost it. No I did lose it. Tears came quickly to my eyes.  I told the officer that was a terrible thing to say to someone. I told him I felt stupid enough as it was. I told him I was humiliated. And I couldn't stop crying.

After speaking with the police I returned back into the main bar area to get my jacket. Two men were sitting there and saw the tears in my eyes.  One of the men said "Ruff night. I see your crying. Why don't you let my buddy dance with you? That should make you feel better." I wanted to throw up. I glared at them and told them I had no interest.

Clearly shaken, Nick walked me back to the BART. Nick was also conned. He thought he was getting an art deal. We chatted about the nights events and parted ways once I reached the station. I took my BART card which was all that John left me and got on a train.

I cried all the way home.

I wasn't attacked. I wasn't hurt. It should not be that dramatic. Yet I feel violated. Taken advantage of and stupid. I fell for it. I honestly may have preferred it if he had punched me in the face and snagged my purse. That would have been out of my control.

But now I am the silly girl. The silly girl the cop laughed at. The silly girl who should have known better . The silly girl who should be consoled by the advances of any old man. The silly girl who is nice to strangers.

And so here I am, after midnight. I look like hell. I fell like hell. I have taken a left over muscle relaxant in hopes that it will bring sleep which feels so far away tonight.

I'm not sure what to take away from this evening's experience. I want to be trusting. I don't want to believe that everyone is out to get something from me. Yet, sadly tonight, I am starting to feel a little jaded.


  1. Con artists are called ARTISTS because their profession is conning people. If he wasn't good at it, he would have quit years ago. Don't allow a bad experience to make you into someone jaded - someone you're not. Better to get screwed once in a while than be terminally suspicious and not let anybody in. I fully believe that most people in the world are good and honest. Yes, I've come across plenty who are not. But most are. Keep believing that - life is better this way.

  2. Hilary has the right advice there. Don't beat yourself up over it. If we become so jaded as to not let others in, we have lost something that makes us human. Be cautious and skeptical and go with your gut. I'm sorry this happened to you.

  3. It is an absolute shame that you cannot trust anyone around you anymore. To be honest with you, I would have done the exact same thing and been in your position. Thank you so much for writing about your experience so that we can all learn and avoid this. I'm gullible by nature and I want to believe in people until they give me a reason not to.

    You have such a kind heart and that man preyed on that side of you. You are definitely not the first victim and you probably will not be the last. You have nothing to be ashamed of and he has every reason in the world to hang his head.

  4. woah- what a crazy and terrible story. So sorry you had to go through that. At least you are safe. What a %#&*@!

  5. What a miserable life that man must have. He gets to go home and still be himself, and you get to go home and be wonderful, compassionate Rachel!

  6. P.S. he still might have stolen your wallet even if you didn't engage with him. He probably goes into bars and looks for purses to steal from.

  7. that sucks. I've been conned before, and will probably be again because I believe everyone wants to contribute positively to society. Most of the time the people I meet are awesome. You did everything you could by showing the picture to the police. Hopefully they will catch him and he will not continue to steal from others. I have a lot of stuff in my wallet, it would suck to replace it all

  8. Sorry you had to run into such a creep/criminal! Clearly you weren't the first to be duped by him, so I wouldn't feel too bad. It is sad, but he is exactly the reason I rarely engage with strangers. Sad that we can't just assume the best in people!!! Hope you got good sleep and feel better!