Last week I received a letter from my condo association. I was told that I needed to replace the door to the closet on my deck. For about two years, my door has refused to close. To be honest, I didn’t get it fixed because I simply didn’t think it was a big deal. Still, I want to be a good neighbor, so I put a call out on our neighborhood Facebook page asking for recommendations.
A few minutes later, a guy posted back and said he could do it. So I sent him a text, and he came by my condo. The good news was that he said I didn’t need a new door; it just needed a little shaving. And he was happy to do it for me. I just needed to pay him half now and half when he completed the job.
I was relieved, but then my phone rang. The guy was up the street at a check-cashing place and they needed some information from me. Had I written the check? How much was it for? Could I supply my birth date? I was a little unnerved. I had never cashed a check at any place other than a bank where I had an account.
I became suspicious. What did I know about this guy? Nothing. I knew that home improvement scammers were everywhere, and I had not checked on this guy’s reputation in my rush to get the door fixed. The next day didn’t make me feel any better. He said he was coming in the afternoon. By 5:30, he was still not there. At 7 p.m., he sent a text saying that he was finishing up a job and would be at my place soon. But he didn’t come.
The next day, I sent him another text asking when he would come by to fix the door. A little later, I received a message saying that it would be in the afternoon. That was the last I heard from him that day. I reconciled myself that I had been scammed.
Then on Saturday, I was about to leave for the day when he called me. He apologized for not showing up the day before, but said he was on his way. I was going out of town but left his money on the front porch. When I came home that night, my door was fixed.
And I felt like a jerk. You see, for most of my life, I have said that I would rather be tricked a thousand times than turn down someone who needed my help. And I not only say it, I believe it is part of who I am. I think of myself as a person who trusts others until it is proven that I should not.
But in this case, I made a snap judgment. Based on what? That the guy cashed my check less than ten minutes after I wrote it? That he didn’t get around until doing the work until three days after I hired him. (At that point, I had waited three weeks for an electrician.)
Later, one of my colleagues gently said to me, “You know that there are many good reasons that someone might need money immediately.” And she was absolutely right.
I am not proud of myself, and I have spent the last two days reflecting on my assumptions. But I’m not unhappy that it happened. Occasionally, it’s good to realize that you have veered off the road you wanted to be on and have to find a way to get back on track.