Let the words flow. Let the pictures speak

The art of Con

Being a bachelor gives me the liberty and freedom to keep the call bell to my residence, switched off. Having a house in the ground floor, that serves a lot of purposes in Bengaluru. I don’t have to wake up to salesmen practicing their marketing skills and failing miserably. I can dodge the wannabe watchman who dons his uniform only when he decides its time to collect his monthly dues. The other benefit it gives me is an exemption from managing to politely reject all the donation seekers that drop by. Then again, for being so smart, sometimes you do pay a small price and end up opening the door to them. This is one such instance.

Image of opened magic book with magic lights

I was engrossed in my morning rituals, no, I shall not bore you with the details of it, when I heard someone press the call bell and realise it was switched off. For some reason, I decided to open the door. And there he was, a typical Sikh/Punjabi with a not so long beard and the turban. He wouldn’t have been much older than me, maybe early to mid thirties at max. I either did not catch his name, or he didn’t give it to me. With my memory, I am betting on the latter. He gave me a card featuring an image of Guru Nanak, saying they were holding a Holi celebration near Ulsoor Lake, at some ground, and that they would be involved in charity. Then he switched on. Addressing me as a brother, he told me that I should not keep many friends as they hold me back from progress. I should not share my ideas with people as it would hamper its execution. He asked me what time I woke up, and to my reply of 8.30, he told me I should be waking up by 6-6.30 and that all plans that I do in the nights tend to fail. He asked if I was in service and I said yes. He said I had three-line on my forehead and asked me if I had noticed it. I said yes. He told me I only benefitted from the two lines and the third was elusive to me. He said whatever I earned so far was only due to my perseverance and hard work and the benefits of my luck were yet to fructify. He told me it wasn’t my luck that was helping me so far but a family member’s. He said that would change soon and taking a piece of paper, wrote 27/05/2017 on it. He said that would be a big day for me. He further wrote three letters P.H.M and underlining the letter P, asked if I knew what they were. I nodded a no. He said they were what awaited me after the said date. Writing another letter S, he asked me if I had someone whose name started with the letter and circled it. I again nodded no. He asked if I had any friends with the said letters. I said no. He said I would soon be meeting them and things would be great. Then asking me to hold his pen, he tore a small piece of the paper, wrote something on it such that I could not see it and curling it into a ball, asked me to hold it. Then he asked me to think of a winged bird. I said parrot. He asked me if I choose it or he made me choose it. I told it could be either. He then asked me to choose a number between 25 to 29. I choose 27. He again told me that I could have chosen any of the other four choices but I choose 27. Then he asked me to open the curled up paper. He had written P and 27. He then said the P.H.M stood for prosperity, happiness and money!

He asked me for my name. I told him. He told me to always give full names. I did. He gave me another piece of paper which had a list of names and asked me to include mine. I did. They also contained amounts against each name. He asked me how much I wanted to contribute. I simply handed him the paper and pen back saying I will see when I come there. He told me I should not let them go back empty-handed. I stuck to my I will see when I come there point. He said I was disrespecting them by not giving anything. I told him he was disrespecting me by not accepting that I would do the needful when I came there. He conceded and left.

If someone really wants to collect money for a good cause, why resort to tricks. Why not be straight forward about it. Unfortunately for him, I knew exactly where he was headed with his chatter. He blew his trick, the moment he went overboard on not being able to collect anything.

Let me explain how he did it. The initial chatter was simply testing waters and gaining confidence. Deep down every person always feels they haven’t been lucky enough and things have been holding them back. You simply need to hear it from someone and you will be all wrapped up in it.
When I told him I woke up at 8.30, I was lying. If he was a good one, he should have caught it, coz, I actually paused, as if considering my answer, before giving it to him. Then again, he needed to be bold to actually accuse me of lying. From there, the part about waking up early and not working in the night was simply an educated guess.
The bit about my luck changing was setting the premise for the trick. The date 27 was simply a suggestion to my mind, further enhanced by the clever inclusion of it being a great day for me. The underlined letter P and asking me to hold the pen was the second part. What this exercise ensured was that when I was asked to choose a flying bird, even though the first thought that came to my mind was crow, I didn’t choose it as it is associated with negativity. The next thought was pigeon. I skipped it coz I didn’t know what he was upto and I didn’t want him to succeed whatever it was. I picked parrot. It didn’t matter which I choose coz it would have started with the letter P due to the suggestions he had already fed me. I couldn’t have thought of a crane or an eagle.
When he asked me to choose a number between 25 to 29, he didn’t bother to clarify I could choose 25 or 29. He had said between remember. So there were only three logical choices. 27,28 & 29. Not only did he emphasise on 27 before, but it is also the median of the set he gave me and any normal person who isn’t really thinking would choose it without thinking twice. He later added 25 and 29 to the list of choices giving me the feeling I had more choices than I actually did.

There was a second part which I didn’t mention in the story above, since it did not get there with me. The list of amounts written included 2,000/3,500/1,000 and so on. The lowest amount was 500. If i did decide to contribute that would have become my psychological threshold and would have ensured I at least gave 500, provided I had the means. If i didn’t I would have still given a 100. I wouldn’t have dared to give a 10 or 20.

How do I know this? Well, if you watch serials like the Mentalist or White Collar, you would too. 😉

He might have been running an actual celebration for all I know. But to come to the other part of the town for collection certainly raises questions and I would certainly not travel just for a meal. Again, he had no receipt book or an actual invite with details. In any case, he certainly had one wasted trick to go back home to.

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