Punk-Kid, English-Speaker Seeker & Broker-Boy
The following incident occurred on Friday, October 8, 2010 at approximately 11:50 ante meridiem: He said he lived around the corner and down the block. He said he took care of his grandparents. As fate would have it, I take care of my grandfather. He said he was raising money to arrange a trip to London. There, he would intern for the BBC. No, not as a presenter, or a reporter, or as a newsreader; no, this Punk-Kid standing on my stoop would be learning behind-the-camera, technical stuff. “Oh, the BBC,” I said. I was impressed, I was envious, and it showed. I rather enjoy that Mike Embley chap on the BBC World News. True, this Punk-Kid looked more like a run-of-the-mill junkie than a news junkie, but I am often too quick to judge. ON-THE-SPOT HYPOTHESIS: Perhaps this Punk-Kid was endeavoring to turn his life around--somehow, he caught a break--and if only he could raise enough money for the trip, he would see his dream through. END ON-THE-SPOT HYPOTHESIS. This Punk-Kid obviously picked up on my astonishment. But then he asked if I worked for the BBC. I should have shut my door at that very moment. Do I work for the BBC? Ah, flattery. I am rarely the recipient of flattery and as a result this has made me an easy target, a gullible chump, a “Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me” Pierrot. In the employ of the BBC? Silly little me? What a question to ask! I was flattered all the same. By dumb luck, this Punk-Kid was pressing all the right buttons, thus, making me putty in his hands. Note, too, that I easily blush. Furthermore, I easily sweat. Indeed, I’ll have a full-out panic attack if you are a pretty young woman and you stare at me for thirty seconds or longer. “Do you work for the BBC?” There was nothing to indicate that I might work for the BBC. He must have expected me to say no because most people would say no. EXCURSUS: Years ago, a guy walked up to me and asked, “Do you speak English?” Now, if we were in Tashkent, where the official language is Uzbek, this query would have relevance; but we were not in the capital of Uzbekistan; we were on the southwest corner of Clark and Belmont in Chicago, Illinois. Instead of a proper reply, I offered this English-speaker seeker--clearly a native of North America--the briefest of glares. END EXCURSUS. After this Punk-Kid asked if I worked for the BBC, he asked if I had ever been to London. This was probably another trap; another means to gain my confidence. But I told him “Not yet,” which is the truth. If, instead, I said that I had, he would have surely elevated me to the position of Expert. He would have wanted to know where to stay, where to eat, what to see, etc. But, alas, my feet have never left North American soil. This Punk-Kid kept calling me by my grandfather’s surname. He did this, I imagine, because that is the name etched into the dirty brass plate on the front door--that is, unless he had checked somewhere else beforehand--a phonebook, the internet, our mailbox. Fool that I am, I corrected him--that is, with the correct surname. I did not, however, disclose my first name. For that, I believe I deserve at least a smidgeon of credit. EXCURSUS: A few years back, another scheming stripling rang the doorbell. Although this one wore a suit and tie, he was no less illiterate or audacious than the Punk-Kid; for he, too, did not heed the “NO SOLICITING” sign affixed to the “storm” door. I allowed his formal attire to disarm me, nevertheless. And because he was fresh-faced and of slight build, I flipped the deadbolt free and pulled the front door open. He offered his hand. I shook it. Everything about him looked clean and polished. He was even carrying an attaché case. He said he was some kind of investment advisor; he was new to the area and, ostensibly, somewhat desperate for clients. He handed me a promotional pamphlet from a brokerage firm with a familiar name. And where, I asked, was his office located? As of yet, he did not have one. ON-THE-SPOT HYPOTHESIS: Perhaps he is no more than an earnest young man starting out in his chosen field. And with the prevalence of caller-ID, who, these days, is foolish enough to pick up the phone when a stranger calls? Indeed, the unproven, independent stockbroker/advisor must take risks and, I suppose, make house calls in order to make a serious go of it. It is plausible. And, besides, one does not want to think ill of every assertive stranger one meets. Take Lou, our next-door neighbor, for example. Lou is simply gregarious; quite assertive, yes, but quite harmless, nonetheless. END ON-THE-SPOT HYPOTHESIS. I accepted the pamphlet and told Broker-Boy that, if we were interested, we would let him know. God as my witness, I never gave him my name--first or last. Weeks passed. Then, one day, the phone rang. True, it rang during the intervening period, but Lou was typically the one initiating these rings. This time it was Broker-Boy. During our initial meeting, I did not provide him with our phone number. Although our landline does not have caller-ID--because my grandfather is cheap and slow to embrace new technology--the number is enrolled in the National Do Not Call Registry. Regardless, Broker-Boy addressed me by name--by my first name. Had he run an internet search? Had he looked through our mail? I did not ask. Broker-Boy wanted to let us know that he had finally found an office for his fledgling little branch of whatever-it-was brokerage firm. Great. Atta boy. But we are still not interested. Bye-bye, now. Weeks pass. Broker-Boy calls my cell. MY CELL. I have no idea how he got my cell number. If I do not know you, and I do not do business with you, you do not have my cell number. Somewhere, somehow, Broker-Boy must have paid for it. You will not, through any conventional means, find my cell number online. How any nefarious organization obtained it, I have no idea. Perhaps he had contacted all of the major wireless carriers and used some means of social engineering. Regardless, I told him, again, that if we wanted to toss any of our business his way, I would not hesitate to contact him. But this time the tone of my voice made it very clear that he should not hold his breath on ever hearing from either my grandfather or me. Since then, Broker-Boy has left us alone--that is, unless he is operating in collusion with that Punk-Kid. END EXCURSUS.