Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Detective Mama Henley Reports...

Yesterday I ventured out to Target while everyone was in preschool. Armed with my coupon binder, I was ready to rock n' roll. The deals beckoned me to their aisles. I completed my shopping in time for one quick errand before I needed to do the preschool pick up. As I headed out into the parking lot, a young girl with a tattoo at the base of her neck came towards me. She seemed to be about to approach me to ask me something when she diverted her attention to a nearby elderly couple. My instincts told me that she was asking for money or a ride and for some reason, my sense of fear was heightened. This is not unusual for me, as I do tend to be paranoid, especially after a neighbor's rabid cat attacked me and I had to live with an IV for a month. Throwing grocery bags in the car, I kept my eyes on the young girl. She was cute but something was awry.

The elderly couple must have refused to help her. She walked away and then began hysterics. She talked on a cell phone, put her hands to her head, and made lots of distressing motions. Again, it seemed planned and rehearsed. It did not look like someone who was really in despair. I have no idea why I felt this way, but I did. She approached more people, acted hysterically, and then asked the next person. It just didn't sit well, so I found a Target employee who was eating lunch outside and asked her to ask the manager to come out and see if this young girl needed help. My feeling was that if she was truly in trouble, she would walk in the store and ask for help. Instead, she was canvassing the parking lot.

I drove around so that I could determine if she needed help or if she was faking it. Articles in the paper recently have discussed the rise in panhandling and the fact that several of the panhandlers, specifically the young ones, make $100 or more an hour and then DRIVE HOME. A man gave the girl some money and then a second man came towards her. I thought that he, too, was going to give her money. Instead he took the money, took her phone, and must have said, "Let's Go!" because she followed him and jumped in the DRIVER'S seat and drove to the far corner of the parking lot where they sat next to another white Sedan. Her car was a Toyota Camry. I left the parking lot at this point for fear that they realized I was following them. As I drove off, I called the Target store manager to report that her parking lot had solicitation going on that looked suspicious. She explained that the parking lot has a "no solicitation" rule, so even if the girl was indeed in trouble, she could not solicit like that.
All of this reminded me that these are weird times and that it's okay to doubt the sincerity of someone who asks for money. We should all be careful AT ALL TIMES and in ALL PLACES. I pray that this young girl will get the help she truly needs.

11 comments:

A Big Little Life said...

Was this at the Target on Dale Mabry? The panhandler problem is huge in Tampa. It's so strange to me as we rarely ever saw a panhandler in NC.

Henley on the Horn said...

Yes, the Gandy Target! What a small world that I know your friend, Amy!!!!

Mama K said...

This is so weird! We were talking about this in my bible study this morning. I was telling a story of a man who went over and beyond to help a teenager that held a knife to him and asked for his wallet...not only did the man give his wallet, but then offered his coat...(Great story!)

This made another woman say she kinda felt guilty for rolling up her window and driving away when a couple came to her window in a parking lot asking for money. We all agreed she did the right thing (especially as a woman) in protecting herself and child from unknown dangers...

It's a scary world out there!

Imjustagirl said...

Oh my gosh!! My mother and I were just talking about how horrible the panhandeling is in Tampa and how something needs to be done. I am glad you are OK and trusted your instincts.

The Niemeyer Nest said...

Scary. Way to go on using your instincts. Yes, we got snow In Nashville.

LC said...

Stories like this always trouble me. You want to be nice, because obviously these people have some kind of problem, but you can never be too careful. You just don't know what people are really up to. Props for calling the store, hopefully that can lead to something being done.

Ruby Red Slippers said...

OM-so crazy-smart you! Thank God he was giving you wisdom-

Hines-Sight said...

Something similar happened to me at Whole Foods. The woman knocked on my door, and told a long story, blessed me, then asked for a ride. It scared me, and I told her I had to go. I hate to be like that, but one has to be so careful.

Travelbugmom said...

Thank goodness you stayed out of harms way...you just never know. If that girl tried to get a job with the same energy she tries to rip people off, maybe she would have the money she needs. SAD.

Donna said...

You could be a detective!! Witht he economy like it is, it's sad that people need to be watchful and fearful of things like this. Money is one thing, letting someone in your car could lead to a whole other thing!

bevy said...

That story makes me so sad... And taken advantage (by people like that) of at the same time. We all want to do the right thing by others. But at the same time, we must be so careful.