Monday, January 14, 2013

The Spilled Sandwiches Strategy

Oh, no!

Quite a tragedy!
Among the many ways to separate well-intentioned people from their money, the spilled food tray might be the most ambitious.

So, one day you happen to be walking down a street behind a guy carrying a tray of drinks and sandwiches, apparently hurrying to supply some office, an art gallery or something.

Oh, the terrible tragedy of it all!
But, suddenly the man trips, scattering the food across the sidewalk. He kneels and sobs tragically. His whole afternoon's work is lost, not to mention the ingredients and the delivery contract.
Sympathetic to the man's bad luck, you reach into your pocket and pull out a few bills. 'Tough luck. Hope you do better the next time, guy.'

Attracting a crowd (and my dog). How can we help?
But stop for a moment and take a look at that food. The 'sandwiches' are just pieces of cheap white bread stuck together with a bit of butter or mayonaise. And the 'drinks,' if you could taste one, would be colored water, I bet.

A helping hand.
I've spotted guys like this in central Bogotá and other cities several times. Theirs might be the best panhandling theatrics, surpassing the guy with the trained beggar dogs, the folks with the exaggerated body lesions and even the cold-hearted man I once met who'd apparently injured his dog to pry donations out of dog lovers 'for food and medicine for the poor animal.'
The food spilling manuever must be pretty effective to make it worth all the trouble in preparation and the cost of the materials, altho I bet the guy gets discarded bread, which he reuses over and over. Water's free and mayonnaise is cheap.
Another theatrical beggary I've noticed recently around Bogotá are guys armed with shovels and hoes to give themselves an industrious, hard-working appearance. 'Give me money, since I'm ready to work, as you can see.' Sure, they look out of place amidst the cement and asphalt, which require a jackhammer instead of a shovel. But I imagine there's an unconscious psychological effect.

I've also seen more energetic version of this, in which a man stands by a pothole and industriously fills it - probably only to empty it again after you've past by.

Even if you don't feel sympathy, consider giving them a coin for ingenuity and acting.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Carlito said...

He he he didn't know that one. The classical is the lotto vendor that "accidentally" drops a ticket and when you call his attention he tells you "you should buy this one, it seems you're destined to find it". A lot of people falls on this scam, and normally is an outdated ticket.

I've also seen people sweeping pedestrian bridges and asking for money... all they do is take the garbage from one side to the other and back.

Miguel said...

Yes, I've also seen those guys on pedestrian bridges. I once saw one on a bridge. Two hours later, on my way back, he was still there, hard at work on the same spot.
, ,
I also saw a guy up to a similar thing on a remote country road in Colombia. Eternally filling in a pothole.
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Elyssa Pachico said...

Wow, I've never seen this, but it's kind of hilarious.

Amanda said...

Wow, I haven´t seen this yet, but thanks for the warning to look out for colored water haha and not feel too heartbroken when it happens!