I just turned away a man pleading for money for his child's inhaler from my door at 10:30 at night

Approx 10:30 PM EST just a bit ago.

Pitch dark out. My front driveway and porch lights are out, car in the driveway. I hear a light “tap tap tap” on my door. I ask “Yes?” through the door and a man identifies himself as being a neighbor who just moved into the house with red shutters on the corner. I open the door. He’s a thin black man with a goatee, and he says he had a child taken away in an ambulance earlier. He says the college kids on the corner saw it happen. He needs 9.00 for the inhaler from Walgreens drugstore, and he only has 4.00. He offers to let me see his driver’s license. I’m a single man who often works odd hours, and I really don’t keep up with who is moving in or out in the neighborhood, so no clue if he’s a neighbor or not other than the fact that he knows college kids are across the street, and there’s a house with red shutters a few houses down.

I make a snap decision and tell him I have no cash in the house. He says OK and disappears back toward the road.

My overwhelming vibe was I was being scammed, and was I kind of put out that he was trying to pull this bullshit in a residential neighborhood well into the night.

Why did I turn his away? Terrible reasons.

The story simply sounded like a typical "I need just x to get y" scam. He looked kind of poor. He didn't look or dress like he owned or rented a house in any neighborhood. Secondly, who the hell doesn't have 5.00 or a credit card or access to an ATM living in a middle class suburban neighborhood?

After the fact realization that Walgreens closes at 10PM, and if she went to the emergency room they wouldn’t have given her an inhaler there?

I suppose it’s possible I’ll see him mowing his lawn a few houses down tomorrow, and feel terrible but I think the chances of that are pretty remote. What worries me is how desperate does a tweaker have to be to be knocking on random doors at 10:30 PM at night? While that’s the most off putting part, it’s also the part that makes you think it might be serious (and real) in that someone knocking on a relative strangers door at 10:30 at night has to have some serious or pretty vital shit going down.

You gotta trust your gut in situations like that. I wouldn’t have opened the door. Strangers knocking on your door that late at night? Call the cops. Either because a) they’re in dire need of urgent help or b) you’re about to be robbed.

Nah, it was a crackhead. I agree that you should have called the cops.

I’ve collected a couple of licenses over the years from men knocking on the door for $5 to “get to the hospital where his wife was just taken.” I wonder why they never come back for their licenses? If you see him mowing the lawn (which I doubt), just ask him how it all ended up, and if his kid’s ok.

That was almost the right answer. The completely right answer is “I never keep cash in the house”. Lets the Random Stranger In The Night know that you either don’t keep cash in the house, or you’re alert to his scamming.

If I really felt that I wanted to help someone who claimed that situation, I’d say that I’d meet them at the drugstore with my debit card. I wouldn’t get in a car with them, and I wouldn’t drive them in my car.

I’ve been taken to the ER a couple of times for breathing problems. One of the first things they do is give a breathing treatment, which will calm down most attacks and prevent attacks in the near future. I didn’t need a new prescription for an inhaler, but as I remember, getting the prescription filled probably could have waited until morning.

I’ve had a few people knocking on my door, claiming that they need X amount of cash for whatever reason. I always say that I don’t keep cash in the house. Then I point out that there’s one church two houses away, and another church two blocks away, where the person can find several programs.

Yeah, this guy was probably just trying to get some money out of you, and playing the sick kid card.

His son is having an emergency? He was just taken away in an ambulance? His life is potentially on the line?

And when you tell him that you don’t have any cash in the house, he just accepts it, says “OK,” and walks back down the road?

If the situation were truly dire, he would not be deterred by your refusal. He was clearly trying to run a scam on you, and you did the right thing by not falling for it. Hopefully nobody else in your neighborhood did either. You tolerate a little of this shit, and soon it becomes more prevalent, and before you know it, it’s inescapable. When bullshit artists and hustlers and crooks know that one area isn’t going to fall for their shit, they’ll move on, and that’s exactly what you want.

If his child had been taken by ambulance, why wasn’t he with the child a the hospital where any medications would have been provided or if he didn’t have money for a subscription, he could have asked there. And the college kids saw it all. That’s great. Cause it’s real likely that you’re going to leave your house at 10:30pm to walk over and ask them.

You did the right thing.

Yep. Scam.

So, what’s the scam, again? Does he then go next door and get another $5, until he has enough to score a bag of H?

I’m gonna guess crack, but yeah, that’s probably it.

Door-to-door crack scammers! I’m glad that’s not hit the UK, although I can’t see it being successful over here either.

Absolutely a scam. One of my kids had to go to the ER for asthma a couple of times when he was younger. Each time, for some reason, we were unable to get to a pharmacy right away. Sometimes because it happened on a weekend night and no pharmacies in our town would be open till 9:00 AM Monday. The hospital provided us with an inhaler to take home. I call BS on his story.

Well, at least he wasn’t a violent crack addict and he tried to make his next fix without recourse to aggravated burglary.

Add to that that if his kid is a minor (and let’s face it, most kids are) his presence is required in the ER to consent for any and all procedures/test/meds etc. In my same day surgery, parents are not allowed to leave, period.

I have never heard of a hospital refusing to dispense an inhaler, no matter your ability to pay.

So, yes–scam.

Maybe the lesson to be learned here is, pay more attention to who your neighbours are and then when someone claims to be one, you can call them a liar if they aren’t!

I’ve had similar situations involving epilepsy medication, back child support that a man was only $20 short for but without would go to jail/lose his job/turn into a fish/etc., God knows how many specific car parts, and yes- an inhaler.

Anybody else see the My Name is Earl episode where Joy double scams a scammer with “And there was so many details it must be true!” Addicts learn how to tell a really convincing sob story complete with brand names and all else. This isn’t just “Homeless people want to be that way!” talk but from experience; I’ve worked with them in group homes and heard them laugh about some of the tales they told convincingly.

No way to be sure of course but I’m 99.9% leaning towards “he was trying to scam you”.

We had a guy to the late-night knock on the door a few years ago – instead of an inhaler, they desperately needed money to get formula for their infant.

“Oh, not a problem at all!”, I told him. I went to the kitchen and got him one of the 30 or so containers of formula we has recently received.

He was pissed. Scammers often are when you don’t fall for their scam.

Door knock at about 2am. Rather disheveled woman asking to come in to use the phone. Claims to be a nurse doing a home visit. Refuses phone when I tried to give her the cordless handset through the window.

Similar to Sampiro’s, I’ve been approached in parking lots with stories of having driven from a town about 30 miles away to visit mom and having no money for gas back. Always turn down the offer to gas up their car on the credit card.

You did the right thing. Sounds like a similar stunt attempted on me a while back.

Let me get this right - people are knocking on random doors at unsociable hours, hoping that the occupant will hand over a few spare dollars? I know crackheads aren’t the sharpest tools in the box, but this seems like a particularly unprofitable and dumb line of scamming!

And the crackheads I have come across are far more cunning than that, so you should count yourself lucky.