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There are “Stephanies” everywhere in D.C. and around the world (“Deconstructing Stephanie,” 4/30). Wherever there is a mark, or a person looking to get something for nothing (“I found a bag of money….If you put up some good-faith cash, I’ll share it with you”) or even a person with a good heart, there will be scams. That’s the way of the world. It ain’t pretty.

I live in Columbia Heights, and every so often a woman (black, early to mid-30s) comes to the door with a plea for emergency cash to buy feminine napkins. Hell, not only am I not giving her any money, I’m not opening the door! However, if that same person comes up to me while I am outside and says, “Can you give me some money?” chances are I’ll give it up. I’ll give up that money, if I have any at all (which ain’t always the case), because I am not being scammed or hustled.

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There is a squeegee guy at the corner of Harvard and Georgia Avenue. When I stop to wait for the light, I know I’m gonna give him a buck, or a quarter, or the loose pennies in my ashtray. I don’t see this guy as an extortionist; I see him as another soul. Whether he buys a sandwich or a fix is not really up to me.

I may have developed my attitude while living in Manhattan many years ago. Once, after a long workday (and even longer play night), I was hanging around Penn Station waiting for a train to go out to Long Island for some beach time. A group of four little kids came up to me and begged for money to get something to eat. So I took the group to Dunkin’ Donuts (open at 2 a.m.!) and fed them. This happened several times that summer. One night a woman came up and gave me holy hell for feeding her kids instead of just giving them the money. Fagin was pissed because I was wrecking her scam!

Folks on the Hill are upset with the “Stephanies” because they feel they have been had. Well, if you bend over…

It all comes down to choice. Don’t give money out of guilt. Just give it or don’t.

Columbia Heights

via the Internet