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A Random Act of Kindness - Gone Wrong?


Random Acts of Kindness

There seems to be a large interest in "random acts of kindness" right now. This is a wonderful thing! I am hearing about people who are determined to perform at least one random act of kindess per day. If everyone would take the time to just smile at someone or carry an older person's groceries for them, the world can be a much better place. However, you need to use good judgement at the same time. Sometimes we let our heart lead, instead of our head and it can get us into trouble.

With so many people talking about random acts of kindess and the H.O.W. movement lately, I decided to write an article about a random act of kindness that I was involved in some years back. Anytime I hear about someone being kind and giving to someone else who is in need, I can’t help but think what happened when myself and a co-worker tried to help someone “in need” and how it may have gone very wrong. The names have been changed, to protect us!

The Beginning

I don’t remember exactly what year it was, somewhere in the 90s. I was working for the Department of Human Services, here in Oklahoma. I was the office clerk for the Food Stamp Department, amoung other duties. My office was near the front desk and I helped screen the clients when they came in to determine who they needed to see. I would then call their social worker up to take them back to a private office to talk to them. Many times, as a person would come to the front desk they would tell us “their story” so we could deteremine who needed to help them.


There was one social worker in particular that I worked closely with and she too had a heart a little bit bigger than she should have at times. I will call her Nancy. She was young and pretty and just like most of us when we first began to work there, we were going to really make a difference. She and I would bring our receipts from Wal-Mart or the local drug store where we had purchased over the counter medicine and give to some of the elderly clients that didn't have enough medical expenses to even get $10. 00 in food stamps. (Now don’t go tell anybody that!)

A Family in Need?

This one day in particular, a lady in her late 20's, maybe early 30's came in with a teen-age boy. She told us that her husband had just found a job as a logger in the oil field business and couldn't come in with them, but she needed to apply for assistance for the three of them. She said that they had been living in Missouri and the company that her husband worked for had let him go but not given him his last check. The boy that was with them had worked with her husband previously and was let go at the same time as her husband and that they had kind of “taken him in” and had been staying with them. Nancy and I talked to her for a little while and she showed us pictures of the home they used to own in Missouri.


Food Stamps and Gas

Mrs. P. stated that their money had run out while the husband had been looking for work and they had been living out of their truck recently and were in need of some food. The weather was getting really cold at night and they were sleeping in their truck. She said that she had used their last bit of money to buy enough gas to get into town and come into the office for help. She stated that they had applied for food stamps in Missouri but did not get them this month as they had to leave Missouri to try to find work. As per protocol, Nancy called the office in Missouri and verified that they had not received their food stamps this month and we processed emergency food stamps for them that they would receive them the same day. We also took up a little money for them from a few of our co-workers for gas so they could fill up the truck.

They Needed Blankets

Now the fact that they were sleeping in their truck and the nights were getting really cold, just wasn't going to work for Nancy and I. I just happened to have a blanket in the back of my car, which I gave to Mrs. P. and Nancy was going home to get an some extra blankets she had and bring them back. Nancy was going to meet up with Mrs. P. after work to give her the blankets. Now I didn't know that Nancy was meeting Mrs. P. after dark, or I would not have let her do that by herself.


Nancy Meets Mr. P.

When Nancy came into work the next morning, she told me that when she arrived at their designated meeting place, she recognized the truck. It was hard to mistake as it was an older model International truck, which you don’t seem much anymore. It was a faded green color and there was a mural in the back window of a bass jumping out of the water. She said as she walked up to the truck, instead of Mrs. P. stepping out, it was the husband that she had not met before. She said that is when she realized how dark it was and that there were not many other people around. She realized then, that going out here by herself may not have been a very good idea. Nancy said she handed him the blankets and he thanked her for the gas money and the blankets and just turned and got back into his truck and drove away. She said she did breathe a huge sigh of relief when he drove off, she just didn't have a good feeling about being there alone with him.


America's Most Wanted

During the next couple of weeks, Mrs. P. came back into the office to let us know that she had found a job and they had found a house to rent and how grateful they were for out help. Nancy assured her that her food stamps would continue until they were back on their feet and that if they needed anything else to let us know. Nancy and I were feeling good about helping this family and felt like they were on their way to getting back on their feet. A couple of months goes by and we don’t hear anything from Mrs. P. and we really don’t think anything about it, until one evening when Nancy is watching TV with her husband. They are watching “Americas Most Wanted”.


This segment is about a man who has kidnapped a girl from a phone both while she was on the phone with her boyfriend. It happened in a small town in a nearby state, it was late and dark. There were very few people around and as the girl is talking to her boyfriend on the phone, she is frightened when a pick up truck pulls up to the phone booth and stops. She does tell her boyfriend what the truck looks like. She describes it as an old green truck with a fish jumping out of the water in the back window. The boyfriend asks her if she wants him to come up there as he is not very far away. She tells him no, she is sure everything is OK Moments later the boyfriend hears her screaming and loud banging sounds. He yells for her over the phone but he gets no reply. He then jumps in his car and drives toward the phone booth. As he hits Main Street he spots an old green truck speeding his way. He watches it closely as it passes him and he sees his girlfriend struggling with the driver. He turns his car around as fast as he can and gives chase. All he can see is silhouettes through the mural of the fish jumping out of the water. He is driving as fast as he can go in his older car, but can’t keep up. He drives until he eventually runs his car out of gas. At this point the police are called and the story goes that they never find this girl and are looking for the truck in connection to this kidnapping.


The F.B.I.

Nancy jumps to her feet and tells her husband she know who that is! She immediately calls the number on the TV and talks to one of the volunteers on the phone. The next day she gets a call from the FBI. They set up a meeting so she can tell them what she knows about the man who was driving this truck. Nancy gives them all the details she knows about the family. However, the FBI really doesn't tell her anything they know about the case. Nancy decides to call the Missouri office of DHS and see if they had returned there and asked for assistance again. She was told yes, they did come in last month and ask for food stamps again, however there was only Mr. and Mrs. P., they teen-age boy was not with them.

The boy was also wanted for questioning in the case, but could not be found either. From what Nancy had found out, the teen-age boy was 17 at the time they came into our office and was receiving a Social Security benefit check from a deceased father. This is what they had been living on while Mr. P. was out of work. He was only eligible for this check until he was 18. He had turned 18 just a couple of months after they had come into our office. Now that he was 18, he seemed to have just disappeared. Nancy tried several times to get an update on the case from the FBI, but of course, they would tell her nothing except that they had not been located and that if she is to see or hear from them again, to immediately call them.

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What Happened?

Remember the girl that was kidnapped? She has never been located either and the boy, did his usefullness to this family run out after he stopped being a source of income? Remember those blankets that Nancy and I gave to this family? What do you think they did with those blankets? Could they have wrapped two bodies in those two blankets and buried them out in the woods somewhere? Nancy and I wonder this every time we think about this family. How close did Nancy come to being kidnapped by this man and possibly wrapped up in her own blanket!

As far as we know, this case has never been solved. We don’t know for a fact that Mr. P. is the one who kidnapped the girl from the phone booth. We don’t know what happened to the teen-age boy. Did we perform a random act of kindess to a family in need, or did we aid and abed a kidnapper and possibly a murderer? Could this have been a random act of kindness gone wrong? It gives me chills to think about it!

Tell Me What You Think

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Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on April 23, 2020:

I never did find out for sure.

Finn from Barstow on April 21, 2020:

just curious if you ever found out if the truck was the actual one depicted in the show or if it belonged to someone who happened to own a truck that was like it...

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on July 04, 2013:

Hi Dolores! Yes, the whole ordeal was quite frightening when we look back on it. Nancy was quite young back then and perhaps a little foolish. I think she was very lucky that nothing bad happened to her that night when Mr. P. showed up instead of Mrs. P. I wish we knew what eventually came of the search for these people, but last she tried to find out, no one would really tell her anything. Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I always enjoy hearing from you. Have a wonderful day! :)

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on July 03, 2013:

Hi Sheila - what a frightening tale. Nancy could have run into danger. When meeting someone you don't really know, the best spot is a public place. You hear a lot of serial killers who take advantage of the kindness of people.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on April 07, 2013:

Hi Sueswan! I have to say that no one knows for sure if Mr. or Mrs. P. were responsible for the kidnapping, but last I heard they were still wanted for questioning. I haven't got any updates in years now, I guess it is going to be one of those cases that never gets solved. Thank you for stopping in and reading. I appreciate your votes too! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sueswan on April 07, 2013:

Hi Sheila,

This one gave me the chills. Blankets or not the kidnapping would have still happened in my opinion. I find it strange that they Mr. and Mrs P. as well as the young boy and kidnapped girl were never found.

Voted up and awesome.

Take care

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on February 16, 2013:

Hi Kathryn! It is really creepy to wonder where our blankets went and what they may have been used for. I wish we knew if they ever found the girl and what happened to the boy that was with them. I guess we will never know. Thanks for stopping in! Have a great day! :)

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on February 15, 2013:

Wow, you have had a lot of excitement in your life! That is another intense story. I would be horrified to find out someone I knew had been in contact with someone who's most wanted. I feel bad for the poor kidnapped girl.

Thanks for sharing the story.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on February 03, 2013:

Hi tillsontitan! I don't want people to stop helping others, I just want them to use good common sense when doing so. I know sometimes we get so wrapped up in our good deeds, that we don't think. Thank you for your kind words and votes, it is always appreciated! :)

Mary Craig from New York on February 03, 2013:

This is exactly why people are afraid to help others in need...definitely a warning to help others in pairs. :You've done a great job of recounting it here and kept everyone holding their breath!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on January 28, 2013:

Hi Jan! I hope so too! We still have never heard if they found these people or if they found out what happened to the girl! Thanks for stopping in! Have a wonderful day! :)

JanMaklak from Canada on January 28, 2013:

That is an amazing story. I hope that everything turned out ok for everyone involved.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on January 26, 2013:

Hi Cyndi! I'm glad you enjoyed my story. Helping others is an important practice, however, you do need to use good common sense at the same time. Thanks for stopping in and commenting, it is always appreciated! have a great day! :)

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 26, 2013:

What a story! While it's good to be kind, it's also prudent to do it judiciously so that you don't put yourself into a situation that could be scary. Fascinating read.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on January 26, 2013:

Hi Pat! Yes, this could have turned out much worse than it did for Nancy. We know who was looking out for her! Sometimes we can get all wrapped up in our "acts of kindess" and not use our heads. We still need to use our common sense and listen to our "little inner voice". Thank you for your kind comment and angels! Have a blessed day! :)

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 26, 2013:

How much worse this could have turned out for Nancy. Thankfully she was not a target of more wrong doing. I can imagine how rattled she must have been when rather than the lady she expected to see a man emerges from the truck. And then when the rest of the story unfolds, she must have felt she had dodged a bullet.

Thanks for sharing this...a bit of a warning to be wary and ever watchful when helping someone in need.

Sending Angels to you on the 26th day of 2013. :) ps

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on January 24, 2013:

Hi Peg! Nancy and I really believe that at least the girl is dead and probably wrapped up in one of our blankets. Not sure about the boy. It still creeps me out to think about it! When I was about 18, I had a flat on the interstate about 10 miles from my parents house. It was pouring rain and cold. I took a ride from a G.I., who luckily was a really nice guy. He drove me straight to my parents house. I would not to that these days for any reason. Times do change, don't they! Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy hearing from you! Have a great day! :)

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 24, 2013:

This one gave me the chills, sg. I can only imagine how scared Nancy must have been once that guy stepped out of the truck rather than the wife. It does make me wonder about the boy and the missing girl.

Helping is wonderful, but you are right to caution that safety comes first. Thanks for the well told and interesting story.

One time I ran out of gas on the way to the airport and had to take a ride with two men who were complete strangers. They took me to a gas station and back to the truck. Luckily for me it turned out okay. Had I not been transporting my sister for an urgent medical consultation in Houston, I might not have been so willing.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 25, 2012:

Hello anglnwu! Yes and some people are really good at conning other people too! To this day, I don't know if he was ever caught or not. I hope he was caught too! Thank you stopping in and commenting! Happy Holidays! :)

anglnwu on December 25, 2012:

What a scary story--how sometimes, people can misuse kindness, as in your case. Interesting story and I hope Mr. P gets caught.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 17, 2012:

Terrye, I think I just came across a hub of your that has been "pirated" but I am not sure to to let ou know. Let me know what to do to get a hold of you other than here on the feed.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 17, 2012:

Hello Terrye! Yes, "Nancy" is very thankful that nothing bad happened that evening. I know she learned a valuable lesson that day! Thank you for your kind comment and votes! I always enjoy hearing from you! Have a wonderful day! :)

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on December 17, 2012:

What a "sitting on the edge of your seat" kinda story. I bet Nancy is thankful for everyday! How scary! And excellent story telling. Voted up and more.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 16, 2012:

Hello Glimmer Twin Fan! Sometimes you can get wrapped up in the "giving" spirit and throw all caution to the wind. I will never stop trying to help someone who I think is in need, but I will be a little more careful from now on. Thank you for stopping in and commenting. Have a wonderful day! :)

Claudia Porter on December 16, 2012:

This hub gave me the chills and shows that we really need to be careful no matter what we do.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 15, 2012:

Hello Jamie! You should have seen the look on my face when Nancy told me she saw the truck on America Most Wanted! Neither of us will ever stop trying to help someone in need, but we will be a bit more careful about it from now on. You just need to use a little common sense and remember that things are not always as they seem. Thank you for stopping in and commenting! It is always appreciated! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 14, 2012:

Hello healthweathmusic! :) I think most people are basically good, it's those few that aren't that we have to beware of. But they, how are we to know who they are! I'm sorry, I have never watched Desperate Housewives, so I don't really know what to say here. :( Unfortunately, I tend to lean towards the bodies in the blankets too. I really hope we are wrong, but I don't think we will ever know for sure. Thanks for stopping in and commenting! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 14, 2012:

Hello wtaylorjr! I started to put the option, "I don't know", but decided too many people would choose that one. I agree one needs to be sure they are safe even when helping another. You just never know these days. It is possible that something good came out of what we did, maybe even if it was just to let us know that we do need to be careful and not put ourselves in harms way. We need to use common sense at all times. I will never stop helping people in need. I may just be more careful doing it now, and I'm sure my friend Nancy will too.

Thank you for such a wonderful comment and kind words. Your comments are always appreciated! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 14, 2012:

Oooh, babergirl! I had not thought about that! I think the lady that came into the office would have been too old to be the girl that was kidnapped. This has been many years ago now, as far as we know, they have never solved the case. Thank you for stopping in to read and for your kind comments! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 14, 2012:

Hello ImKarn! Thank you for your kind words! I agree, my friend was very lucky! I think the place was not as well secluded as he would have liked. Or...maybe the girl was still alive. We will never know. I was a little older and therefore a little wiser. If I had known what she was going to do, I would have never let her go by herself. The little shit didn't tell me what she was going to do. I am very thankful that nothing happened. We actually talked about this even a couple of weeks ago, it still gives us chills. Thank you for stopping in and leaving such a kind comment! Have a wonderful day! :)

Jamie Brock from Texas on December 14, 2012:

It gave me chills reading this... I can't even imagine how you and your co-worker felt when you found out that the person driving this truck was wanted. I commend you both for being so kind though, I mean, how could you have known and fortunately, this type of thing isn't always the case but I can see why it would shake you up. Thank you for sharing this very interesting yet scary story. It serves as reminder to always be careful, no matter what.

Ruth R. Martin from Everywhere Online ~ Fingerlakes ~ Upstate New York on December 14, 2012:

I also like to trust people and think that they are basically good - but then I just finished watching Desperate Housewives.... need I say more? Tends to make me lean towards the buried bodies in the blankets choice!

William H Taylor from Binghamton NY on December 14, 2012:

This is a very powerful tale and I thank you for it. Your poll should have included an option "I don't know" for me. This is because I don't know what happened with the blankets, I don't know if the truck you describe was THE truck, I don't know anything about these circumstances as the world we live in is full of uncertainty.

This is why it is crucial to both obey your altruistic side, as well as temper it with common sense. Never put yourself in a position where you can be harmed while helping someone. Though please, please by all means help your fellow man.

This means go with people unless you are certain in your ability to defend yourself against at least one person. Or better yet, have them come to you in a situation of your own creation. Help people, but do it smartly.

We will never know all the consequences of our actions, we can only strive to do as much good in this world as we can. I cannot imagine that, in the worst case scenario that those you helped were murderers, there would be something good that came out of your kindness, but it is possible.

Life is a cybernetic system and by changing one part you change the whole. You never know what you will change the system into, but if you diligently strive to always do the best you can, more good should come than bad.

Thank you for being a good person, and I beg you never stop. Thank you for writing this beautiful and interesting hub, and giving me the chance to vote up such a beautify piece of work.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on December 14, 2012:

Wow - that is a crazy story. You would really like to think that you did the same thing. But you have left me wondering - was the girl the same girl that disappeared and she is being forced to do this to help the guy for fear of her life. Wow... great story and thank you for sharing. I hope they find out something soon. How scary - glad you and your friend are both safe!

Karen Silverman on December 14, 2012:

I have to tell you that i have chills - and have had since the story....turned dangerous! I read every well-written word - and the story unfolded itself perfectly!

I think your friend was VERY lucky - im thinking perhaps she wasn't the right 'type' - maybe not young enough, or...? OR...he may have thought he was home free, so why rock the status quo with someone who could still be of use to them.. THAT"S close - for YOU as well, my friend!

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 14, 2012:

Hi Jackie! You would think they could find them if they continue to apply for food stamps, even in different states. Maybe they use false addresses. It really gave us the "creeps" to think what these people may have done and where our blankets may be. We were just thankful that we were not involved at any greater depth. Thank you for stopping in and commenting! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 14, 2012:

Hello grandmapearl. I don't mean to be a "downer". Wou just need to put a little thought into who and how we help. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in giving and being kind that we don't think things through. Just like "Nancy", who ended up meeting Mr. P. in a dark rather secluded place. Be smart about helping people. There are plenty of good people out there who need and deserve our help. We just need to do so with a little common sense. Thank you for stopping in, voting and commenting. Have a safe and wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hi Sunshine! Yes, my dear you are an optimist! You always seem to look on the bright side of life. I envey your beautiful attitude! I try, but after all these years I think I am more of a "realist". I wish these two young people would be found alive and well, but I just don't think that is ever going to happen. The best I hope for is that if they do find them, they are not wrapped up in my blanket! I am creeping myself out! Thank you for stopping in and leaving such an optimistic comment. I need to start thinking more like you! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hi Carol! That is a shame, you did such a good thing. I guess the older lady, just didn't remember. The main thing is that she got the groceries and you and God know what you did! We will do what we feel needs to be done. Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hello innerspin! You know, so many times we hear things like this kidnapping on tv and we don't imagine that it could ever happen where we live, or to us. This one really struck "close to home". I am pretty sure that "Nancy" learned a good lesson from this and was more careful in the future. We actually talked about this incident a few weeks ago. Neither of us could believe how we were taken in by these people. We may never know what really happened, but we did what we thought was a good thing to do. Luckily, someone "upstairs" was looking out for us! Thanks for stopping in! Have a great day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Thank you TimeTraveler! After working for DHS for so many years, I have seen so many people take advantage of the system and other people's charity, that I have become very wary myself. It's hard to know who is really in need and who is pulling a scam. I would rather give a little and hope for the best. Thanks for your read and comment! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Thank you Nina! People do need to use common sense and remember their own safety even when trying to help someone they believe is in need. You never know these days. I think "Nancy" learned a valuable lesson that night. I think she is very lucky! Thank you for your kind comment! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hello RTalloni! You are right on all counts here. You can't always be certain that a person is "down on their luck" when they say they are. You do need to use caution and good common sense. Safety should be a priority too.

It is a shame that some people who are panhandling make enough money that they now do it by choice, instead of need. Truthfully, after working for DHS for 15 years, if the state would hire more people, they could do a better job. They pile so much work on each social worker, there is not way they can do what they need to. Thank you for your awesome comment! :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 13, 2012:

What an interesting story; you would think they would have had enough to catch them, since they had an address they got the food stamps, didn't they? I am sure that would be a scary and frustrating thing for you and your friend. Great share.

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on December 13, 2012:

This is both scary and a bit of a downer. How do we know who to help anymore? We think we're doing some good, and it turns out to be a very unhappy story instead. But then I guess you have to count the times that truly needy individuals have been saved by acts of kindness! Thanks for sharing this story, to make us all a little bit more aware of what goes on all around us every day. Voted Up and Interesting. I've still got the shivers, though!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 13, 2012:

Wow what a story! I sure hope she's fine somewhere living happily ever after. I'm an optimist :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hello bravewarrior! I am afraid that someday they will find the bodies wrapped up in our blankets. I don't think I would every be able to use a blanket again! Thank you for comment! Have a wonderful day! :)

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hello Susan. Thank you for stopping by and reading. I hope you enjoyed it. :)

carol stanley from Arizona on December 13, 2012:

This was a pretty scary hub. I was thinking more in terms of doing something kind and it went unappreciated. Many years ago I did something kind for an old lady...paid her in advance for what she did and since she had broken her foot, I went to the grocery store and bought her groceries (of which I could ill afford at that time). She called me and told me never to set foot in her house as she thought I never paid her...never forgot that...Keep on being kind..and you may never know..

Kim Kennedy from uk on December 13, 2012:

That gave me shivers just reading. It must be scary for you to think about. You both were very kind to those people, Nancy was a little foolish, so glad it didn't land her in big trouble. Interesting hub.

Sheila Brown (author) from Southern Oklahoma on December 13, 2012:

Hello Bill! Of course, I linked one of your HOW hubs in my article and I'm sure will link more. I have always been one to help someone in need. I have filled up more than one tank of gas and given out countless groceries. Regardless of what really occurred in this story, I will continue to help people in need. I have thought about writing this story for some time and decided now was a good time. Thank you for all your HOW hubs, they are all awesome and important. Merry Christmas to you and your family, my friend! :)

Sondra Rochelle from USA on December 13, 2012:

This is the type of thing that makes me very wary of giving handouts to people I don't know. There are many con artists out there these days who actually beg for a living, and among them are people who do worse things. I only give to charities I know, which are also ones I've investigated in terms of how they spend their donated money. It's good to have a big heart, but obviously can be dangerous. Very interesting story.

Ninasvoice from England on December 13, 2012:

Scary story, but it makes you realise you have to put your own safety first no matter how in need a person is. Thank god both you and your friend are alive and well to tell the story!

RTalloni on December 13, 2012:

An interesting experience, to say the least. Wisdom should be exercised on every level when dealing with a needy person. The example of the selflessness of your co-worker is a good one for encouraging wisdom.

One of our friends watched a man beg for help at an intersection for some time and then had occasion to have a personal encounter with the man in a different setting.

Our friend asked him to sit down and talk about why he as a grown man would stand at that intersection day after day and beg when he was capable of working at a job. The beggar responded with incredulity. He said that he could make far more money begging than he ever could in a job.

While there are cases of true need that we should help with, the wisdom of not just taking someone at their word, the wisdom of dealing carefully to try to meet the true need by getting to the root of the problem should be the primary goal of any organization or individual that encounters someone "down on their luck."

Too many people are enabled to continue irresponsible or worse behavior by our welfare system that is incapable of holding people accountable (both the needy and the workers/employees) and by individuals who give based on emotions stirred up by appearances and/or words which can be very deceiving.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 13, 2012:

Sheila, how utterly horrible! I hope the case is eventually solved and that the two missing are OK. However, it seems doubtful or they would have found they way home, unless they're afraid to go home!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on December 13, 2012:

Wow what an interesting and scary story.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 13, 2012:

Well that is unsettling and more than a bit scary. I think we would be amazed to find out how many times something like that happens. Maybe ignorance is bliss in this instance. :)

Happy Holidays to you my friend; keep doing those random acts of kindness.

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