Unmasking a Confidence Trickster
(11-20 April 2004)

20 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-Not much took place today.  But everything was just fine.  That's good enough for me right now.

19 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-As we'd say at work, I'm not in space today.  Where you might normally think that means I'm not spacy, & am instead focused, we mean it to say that one is not in good space, or in some sort of funk.  The point is, I feel like I could use a day off, even though everyone on my shift has a much better reason for same.  Besides, I'm trying to save up my time off for travel sometime in the future.  Enh.

18 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-Felt like I was playing musical chairs or even a single-elimination tournament at work today.  In the end, I was the only person to be there for the whole 15 hours, other than the clients.  Consequently I got a lot less done than I'd like, but today I'm really okay with that.

17 April 2004
[from Oakland]
Happy Birthday to Kate Myers
-Somewhere along the line, it seemed like all talk about the election just disappeared.  Maybe that's just me living in somewhat less than political circles these days, but I haven't heard a newsy reference to the election in weeks.  Between Kerry's dead-fish charisma, Bush's ongoing award-winning foreign policy moves, & Nader's ability to inspire death threats from justifiably fearful dead-fish backers, everyone's just too sad to talk about it.  Which makes sense to me, but seems strange for a politics-obsessed media that so recently was predicting the November results with alleged pinpoint accuracy.  Just seemed noteworthy to me.
-Saw "The Life of David Gale", which was quite dramatic, but generally took a complex issue & tried to make it simple.  Or more to the point, took complex people & tried to make them simple.  What's sad is that I think the plot was pretty great, but the dialogue just threw the whole thing off in some places for its inanity.  It's too bad, because the movie as a whole had a lot more potential.

16 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-Had our first kickball game of the year last night, a thrilling 2-1 comeback win.  The games are remarkably short (5 innings) & feel even shorter when there's not much scoring.  It was my first serious game of kickball since 3rd grade & was great fun.  Just being in Golden Gate Park & that area of SF is worth the league entry fee, let alone having something similar to baseball that's competitive.  The league even has a webpage, which is here.  You'll have to forgive that even though this is an adult league, most people were inane when choosing their team names.  Ours is an example of that, "Kickem High n' Hard".  Oh well, kickball by any other name would be a little better.

15 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-So I've been apprehensive & nervous all day, since the early morning hours of yesterday.  I kept watching TV, waiting for something to happen.  I had a rough time sleeping, even after I decided I finally wanted to.  Woke up early this morning after not much rest.  Dunno, dunno.
-Today I opened the mail to find that our beloved cable monopoly, Comcast, wanted $318 from us for not surrendering our old cable box, which they'd never asked us to do in the first place.  I called & was relieved to find that they would accept the box instead of $318 & I could bring it to their office in Berkeley.  So I went there, box in hand, when a middle-aged woman sitting in the office's only chair for guests asked me rather tersely (but in a soft voice somehow) what I was doing.  I told her that I was taking the box back since I had moved & she complimented my eyes & asked what I did professionally.  At this point, faint alarm bells were starting to ring.  I should refer, as context to this story, to how much I was impacted by the events of summer 2000 (the early morning hours of 3 June 2000, to be exact).  On that fateful day, I was robbed of somewhere around $50 by a man who asked from a ride to his broken-down truck from Waffle House.  He was a stellar confidence trickster & I was very much looking for reasons to have faith in people that summer.  So much of his rhetoric was about why people are so fearful & un-trusting in society & how if people only opened a bit more of their kindness & what they've been fortunate to have to other people, we'd all be better off.  Then he robbed me in the car.  This devastated me at the time, both because I'd crossed the line from trust into stupidity & because I really did believe most of what he was saying to be true... namely that people do need to open up & trust strangers more & try not to be so damn greedy.  Of course in retrospect I could see so many hallmarks of a con artist... asking zillions of questions about me, my whereabouts, & my situation (I was even somewhat evasive because I don't think I ever trust much of anything 100%), buttering me up with talk of how generous I was being, explaining his situation a million miles an hour with little inconsistencies.  Well the main way that I justified my stupidity to myself was telling myself that I had made a $50 mistake now to prevent a much larger mistake in the future, either for my finances or more likely my safety.  All told, $50 is a pretty cheap fee for learning how to wise up to con artists.  Back to today in the Comcast store.  This woman starts trying to convince me that she knows me, that she's seen me before, that I live on this street.  I've already told her that I counsel kids & she says she's a counselor too... more of a shamanistic one.  I can't help but be a little intrigued in spite of my misgivings, but if someone's good at reading people, that's what they're all about, building that intrigue.  So she's quiet for a little after I convince her we don't know each other & she apologizes for scaring me & says that we're all brothers & sisters & we all know each other & there's "something about [me], [my] spirit".  At this point, I've dealt with my cable box & I'm waiting for her to hand me a pamphlet for one of her palm readings when she instead, after I've left the building, asks me for a ride.  Now the alarm bells are wailing.  In a move that I'm not proud of & immediately regretted, I mutter something about having to be somewhere in a hurry.  She sees right through it & says it's a quick ride up a few streets & starts going back to the fear in me.  She starts speculating on my fear & if it has to do with my being white while she is (she claims) Iraqi (I had suspected Indian & am still fairly sure of that being her ethnicity, but I'm not positive).  She says it takes a lot to trust a stranger to drive you somewhere too.  While all the things she says are true, & it has the advantages of daylight in a fairly crowded city as opposed to dead of night & deserted like 4 years ago.  But a car is a very enclosed space & a lot can happen in a car.  & I've been apprehensive all day for no reason.  & I've spent 4 years being thankful for the tough lesson I was taught, much as my intuition rails against its verdict.  This is being stuck in a moment you can't get out of, torn between ideals & the lessons of the past.  My philosophy meets my history.  I decided to stick to the safer line I'd initially chosen, despite my guilt & my intrigue.  I listened patiently & attentively as she talked about how my spirit was dying at such a young age, how this society breeds people to be untrusting, how white culture distrusts people of color, & then threw in for kicks that maybe I was just lazy & selfish to not offer a ride.  I responded with something about my bad experience from the past, the last stranger I'd given a ride, & how I strive never to make the same mistake twice.  I talked of trusting a bad intuition & how I didn't feel I could judge her accurately, so I couldn't make a rational decision.  She admitted she found this insulting, but I was being honest with her.  She wished me hope that I would get over my "disease".  & you know what?  I hope I do.  Earlier today, I was playing a lot of poker.  In poker, sometimes you pay to see someone's cards.  If you lose, you paid a heavy price for the knowledge of what happened.  If you fold, you save your money but never ever can know whether you made the right call.  Calling the wrong bets teaches you to fold earlier & more often.  But every time you lay those cards down, you just never know.

14 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-A Wednesday that doesn't put me in a bad mood!  Imagine.  But then I just came home & slept, so I dunno if that counts as much better.
-According to the Amazon sales ranks, it would seem my book is selling almost as well in Britain as it is here.
-Fish has gotten me to waste some more time here.  The idea is to trade commodities for movies & movie stars like one would real stocks.  All fun & games, of course.  Let me know if you're playing & you can join our league.
-It should also be noted that my book recently became available in PDF form for online reading.  It's cheaper than the hard copy, but a whole lot less fun if you ask me.

13 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-Sometimes my job almost makes me cry when talking to the kids.  It helps a lot when they're crying for an hour already.  I could never have imagined feeling so much in the right place at the right time in a job setting.  Wow.
-How could anyone ever like soft tacos more than crispy tacos?
-A quick, intense week.

12 April 2004
[from Oakland]
Happy Birthday to Clea Wilson
Happy Birthday to Colleen Garin

-Did I mention that Emily, Fish, & myself have joined a kickball team?  Our first game is on Thursday!  How's that for craziness?  I haven't done a league-sanctioned competitive event of any sort since April 2002 (unless you count online play-money poker tournaments, but those don't even involve seeing other people).  Not that kickball is anything like debate in terms of seriousness, or well, anything, but still.  Been a long time is the point.
-Speaking of April 2002, I wonder who took Nats this year.  I know it ended yesterday.
-I had a dream last night that we were moving to Austin, Texas, & then to Providence, Rhode Island.  Somehow these moves were my idea.  By the end of the dream, I was literally bawling at Emily, begging her not to make me move & talking about how much I loved the Bay Area.  Waking up was sweet sweet relief.  Realizing that I hadn't actually ever wanted to move to Texas or Rhode Island was even better.
-For fun & games, do a Google search for frontier restaurant, with or without quotation marks.  Hee hee.
-Apparently (thanks Jason Wen), Marty Roth & Nico Cornell won Nats.  Puts Middlebury semifinals my senior year in perspective, I guess.  Well, not really.  But well done to them all the same!
-Last random trivia for the day, I swear...  It's a pop-internet thing lately to post graphics for an image search of one's name, generally just the first name.  But the #2 hit for a Google image search of storey is a picture of me!  Almost all the other hits are for houses discussed in British spelling.

11 April 2004
[from Oakland]
-Easter is always a little more fun with kids around.  With the kids I work with, it's more... interesting.  Generally more fun to be sure, but they seemed so anxious today!
-15-hour shifts have become more or less a breeze.  It's all about the attitude one takes into them.  When one is resigned to the idea that the whole day will be work & gets in an almost dream-like immersion state that work is all that ever goes on, it becomes very easy to roll with a 15-hour shift.  It's amazing to think about my time at Seneca & remember that I used to struggle with making it through 4-hour shifts at John Muir sometimes.  At the same time, though, that job was boring.  It's all ultimately testimony to the relativity of time.

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