Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A 5-minute Adventure

Whenever the receptionist at work steps out for five minutes you can bet that there will be a constant stream of visitors. Today a man walked in looking distraught. He started in on a story about his family being outside in the car and he needed to get something but he needed 20 dinars to pay for it "It's important - this is an emergency. My wife and kids are waiting outside in the car". He opened his vest and pulled out his family book and said he would leave his family book with me and come back with the 20 dinars. I decided to give him 2 dinars and see if he'd take that and leave. 

He shook his head and said "No! No! Wallahi (I swear to Allah), I only want to borrow 20 dinars. I will give you my family book and come back with the money. It's an emergency. My wife and children are outside" he again opened his vest and took out his family book to show me. This time I noticed that I could see through the lining in his vest pocket and sitting there plain as day was a 20 dinar note. I shook my head and said sorry and turned away from him. I wondered why he was asking for money when he had some in his pocket. He asked if there was a Libyan that he could talk to so I went inside and sent one of the students out to talk to him. 

A minute later my student came back and said the man had gone. "Did you give him any money?" I asked. "Yes" he said. "Did he give you his family book?" I asked. "No - I only had 15 dinars and he took that and left." he replied. We let it go at that and went back to our lesson.

Later, after class, when I had time to sit down and think about it and it hit me like a flash of bright light. The guy must be using this as a ruse to change the banknotes that are no longer valid at the bank. He gets people to give him 20 dinars and gives them his family book and then returns awhile later and hands the unsuspecting person the bad banknotes. The person probably doesn't realize it until later - the whole time thinking they've done someone a good deed. And although he wasn't interested in my paltry 2 dinars he pockets the 15 that my student gave him and took off. I imagine a lot of people just hand him 20 dinars and say "Please, please take the money. Wallahi!" and of course he then takes the money and off he goes. 

What will they think of next? 

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