Last week I was in Berlin with a friend. We just wanted to spend some time there, explore the city, visit museums and enjoy the capitol and its‘ life. This is just about the first few minutes at the central train station where we encountered Dave. He was a twenty-something dude with a little ruffed up look. He talked to us, speaking in english, looking for help. The first thing I thought was that he just wants to bum a cigarette off of us. Then it got clearer: He wanted money. He said he was from England, was in Stuttgart for some company, his belongings were lost on the flight. He wanted money to get back to Stuttgart where he could apparently get a way back to England. I don’t know exactly what and why or even if this sounded like the truth. In hindsight it was a rather not so believable story, but…after a certain amount of time of hesitation I kind of had the feeling that it was time to help. I thought about the people who are really in trouble and who legitimately are desperate and would benefit from a kind stranger. Maybe I wanted to be this kind stranger. He also wanted to transfer me the money back via some bank. Short result of it all: I helped by giving him money. It was more than the spare change most people give homeless people in the streets, but it was not so much that I would be financially in trouble in Berlin. Anyhow, it was actually too much to even consider from a student like me. That’s why it was a rather stupid thing to do. There was not enough evidence that he actually was telling the truth and I did not ask as many questions as I should have. Beside the main point of being the kind stranger I just wanted to get this over with, although I had an weird, strange feeling about all of this. My friend told me after this that he would not have done this and I am reconsidering the notion of helping strangers even more. I am not one for giving every homeless person my spare change, because than I would have the feeling of having to give every single one of them something. I did this a few times, sometimes just food, which is most times even better, I think. But now…I guess I question the people who do this con and get away with it. Plus I question myself for being so utterly gullible.
In general it is always nice to help others, when oneself is in the position of doing so. It can benefit the stranger, even it is for one meal or some drink. I don’t want to get into the view that every person on the street is getting beer and hard alcohol (what they often do I guess) from the money people give them. It is rather about the people who deliberately try to con people into giving them money that they don’t even need. These are people who do not look as shabby as most others but try to get away with stories about getting home by mostly getting a train ticket for which they need some money. They use this scenario to create a desperate light on them, so the one giving the money pities him. I encountered some other of these people who asked every single person in a train once and just didn’t come up as believable as they would like to have. These are the people who I really do not like. They are probably not so well off as many others, but try to con people anyway. With me Dave had a person who did fell for it, although hesitant. The moral would be: Be skeptical towards people on the streets who ask for something. It is really difficult to find out if the person is telling the truth. I am very sorry for those who really need help, though…all in all I just wanted to highlight my gullible self, I guess. In the future I won’t be so kind anymore unfortunately, unless of course there is more insurance involved. The last thing I want to get off my chest: Eff you Dave ;P