Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tale of Two Ten Dollar Bills

Yesterday afternoon I had two things happen: one made me very angry, the other made me smile; both involved a ten dollar bill.

As anyone knows who has followed my blog, I live on top of a small mountain with 16 other homes spread across this long, twisting ridge.  I know a few people up here, but for the most part, everyone pretty much keeps to themselves.  I'm familiar with some names, faces, and will stop to chat if I bump into anyone, but other than my immediate neighbor, and two women further along the ridge, that pretty much covers it.

So.  Wednesday afternoon.  I'm sitting at the laptop, next to the windows that look out at the road and front garden, when this Barbie look-a-like comes tearing up my stairs.  The dogs wig out, I'm trying to figure out where she came from, who she belongs to.  There's no clue how she has just appeared out of thin air.

Open the door, ask her how I can help her.  She's young, too perky, too chatty, too blond, too...everything.  She puts me off, totally, though I rein myself in for judging her on appearances.  In the course of her hyped-up spiel, I get the drift that she wants me to buy a magazine subscription, the money to go toward helping the military overseas; the benefit to her is earning points to help in her scholarship to UC-Davis. 

The bottom line: she wants $50.

I scoff, tell her a soldier in the Middle East is not going to be reading magazines, and even if he were, I could order 4 magazines for the price she's touting for one.

Oh, but she's smooth.  She immediately has a rebuttal:  The magazines are for the military nurses.  The $50 is divided between the subscription and her scholarship.  She has these innocent, guileless baby blues that would've had a guy on his knees, wallet outstretched, begging her to take what she needs.  This just puts me off even more--I never had a Barbie doll, and never wanted one.

I ask her how she came to be on the ridge, it's private, there's a big ol' sign at the entrance to our road that says no solicitors. 

Ah, and here's the good part people, here's how she hooked me.  She says, no hesitation at all, that her grandparents live back around the curve--about five houses removed from mine, toward the head of the road.  Their names roll off her (forked) tongue.  I don't personally know those folks; they travel, are rarely here except during the Summer months.  I ponder this for a minute, remember that just this past weekend I saw their car, and they're back in town.

I'm not happy about this whole deal, but crap.  She's got a little folder stuffed with bills so someone has already given in to her wiles.  I have a weak moment, wondering how long it will take the grapevine to hear that I tossed Barbie off my porch, refusing to help the poor girl get to UC-Davis in the Fall.  With a sigh, resigned, I get my wallet.  Amongst my change, I have two ten dollar bills.  Begrudgingly, I hand her one of them.  She squeals (I kid you not), throws herself at me, bear hugs ensue, she thanks me profusely, then runs down my front stairs.

I try to get back to work, but I can't shake this... feeling.  I stew.  An hour or so later, I get out the phone book, find Barbie's "grandparents" and call them.  I explain the situation to the woman who answers the phone.  I'm nice, apologetic even, just in case my intuition is groundless.

Of course it's not. 

These people don't have a grandchild her age, or description.  How she got their name and knew they were old enough to be grandparents, I haven't a clue.  It's creepy.

Scam Barbie got me for $10.  I was really pissed.  My only consolation?  It was just ten bucks.  But still.  And what was with the frigging hug???  Are you kidding me???  Rip me off, then hug me as the final insult???  I swear, if too much time hadn't already passed, I would have gotten in the Blazer and gleefully hunted down that conniving little witch.

I found out later I wasn't the only sucker.  Big whoop.


Last year, when the house was painted, the guys removed all the gutters and downspouts.  After painting, they put everything back up, though from last year to this, I've noticed that two corner units weren't properly reattached so water leaks out where it shouldn't.  Then, last week in one of the storms, the top of the spout that connects to the gutter came away.  Of course this is in the front of the house, right at the driveway.  It looks very much like the Griswalds live here, gutters leaking, downspout waving in the breeze.  All I need is the rusty trailer and a chicken or two to complete the picture.  I would just fix it myself but I don't have a 25-ft ladder.

A couple of months ago, I had all the outside windows cleaned by this guy, Jeremy, who specializes in really high, nearly inaccessible windows.  He did a brilliant job, even climbing on the roof to clean the four skylights.  He told me that if I ever needed any help that required tall--very tall--ladders, to give him a call.

I called on Monday.  He said he was really busy, but would try to come by at some point this week.  I didn't really care when he could come, just that he would.

Yesterday, after Scam Barbie and still fuming, his truck comes up the drive.  He unhooks his tallest ladder, climbs up, reconnects the pipe to the gutter, fixes the loose screw with a new, thicker one, and within just a few quick minutes, everything is good.

When I asked him how much I could pay him for doing this, he smiled and told me it was a freebie.  I went inside, got my wallet, and gave him the other ten dollar bill.  He refused, I insisted.  It was more than worth the money to have him come so quickly, and fix it better than it was before it fell off in the first place.  He left happy, and I have an ace in the hole if I need him again.


I smiled as he drove off with a cheery wave.  His act of kindness after Barbie's act of deceit was such a contrast for one little afternoon.  I thought about those two ten dollar bills, wondering about their journey after leaving my wallet.

Do you think there's karma in how money is acquired?  In this instance, I really hope so.  I'm going to imagine something good will come to Jeremy with his $10.

You don't want to know what I'm envisioning for Barbie.

[And hey.  So much for my non-day post, huh??  Perhaps the cows were sending me a warning...]


  1. Even having been raised by a salesman, I, too, have been "took", in my case by a woman with a letter, of all things, from a local church attesting to her cancer and how she needs my money for the drugs to beat it.

    I wrote her a check for it.

    Found out, of course, that it was all a lie.

    Come to think of it, I should write about that...



    1. It's not even so much the money, but the fact I got scammed. I thought I was way smarter than a Barbie really ranks that I wasn't.

      And yeah, you should write about it--you could make me smile about this, rather than waste anymore time imagining Barbie without her hair...

  2. Oh dear, this only solidifies my distaste for barbies--ug. Seriously, is there some way you could write an editorial for the local paper just on the off chance it would prevent her from hitting up another neighborhood?(or get the cops called on her, "aw, c'mon in honey, you sit here with milk and cookies and I'll find my wallet" while dialing 911 behind my back)

    So sorry about Barb, but Jeremy sounds like a delight!

    1. The county sheriff apparently lives somewhere down my mountain and is a friend to one of the others up here who got taken, so the police are on it. Unfortunately, Barbie and her cohorts are probably already across the state line into California by now. That's how these swindles go: in and out, dine and dash.

      Jeremy is a good guy, for sure.