It's 6am and a couple friends and I walk out of my building to get some food. Katz' deli gives half price food to pedicab drivers like my friend Aaron, and I can't turn down a deal. As we walk across the street we see a shady looking fellow walking near where we're parked. Hopefully we can avoid contact.
"Hey guys... can you help me out? My car ran out of gas... "
It's the same tired hustle that we've heard a million times. His story winds on to the tune of a thousand silent violins as we look for the polite pause to fill with our excuse to leave.
"I have my license. You can hang on to it. Or I can write you a check."
At that point it doesn't occur to me that any gas station that's open is likely to accept his check.
I'm intrigued. How could a scammer trade his license for three dollars? I consider that he might be legitimate, but it doesn't seem likely. I ask to see his license, and it's him. I bend the license like a bouncer and look for some finer details. It's real.
Jonah is growing tired of the conversation and offers three dollars. I take his license.
He briefly looks concerned.
"How will I get my license back?"
"We're going to Katz' on sixth. Just meet us there."
"What if you're not there?"
"I live in that building. I'll leave it with the front desk."
We walk off three dollars poorer, leaving him one license lighter. Curiously it seems like we've both gotten a bad deal.
As we drive to Katz', we ponder the situation. Legit or hustler, WHO is willing to give their license to a stranger to hold in escrow for $3? It's insane.
We eat our half price meal at Katz', eagerly awaiting his arrival. It seems more and more likely that it's a scam. This doesn't seem like reasonable behaviour for a real person. How does he have his license and checkbook, but no debit cards, credit cards, or cash?
He never shows up.
I get back to my place. I don't want him looking for me. At the same time, I don't want him getting his license back without giving me $3. I don't like being scammed. I debate whether to leave the license at the front desk or to hold it ransom, assuming he ever found me.
In the end I decide to leave it on the front desk with the note "Lost License". I don't particularly want to involve myself with this guy anymore.
What do you think? What would you do once he didn't show up?