David and Mary are an African-American couple who have worked odd jobs for my family off and on for years. David and Mary are simple. They are slow witted. If you could combine their IQ, I expect it would be hard pressed to get beyond 100. They are limited in the tasks they can do, and limited in the directions they can receive. When they are working for you, they need constant supervision, not because they’re lazy or dishonest, but they can get themselves into trouble because of their childlike understanding of things. They believe everything they are told by people they perceive in authority, and they believe everything Mary reads that looks like official communication. If Mary read it, there is no advising David that Mary misunderstood. Mary is his rock and brain. David is her back and strength. They are not completely unaware of their limitations, but they do a remarkably capable job of each making up for the lack of the other. They are inseparable. I am not denigrating David and Mary. I am not belittling David and Mary, nor am I making fun of them. I know David and Mary. I am stating the facts as they are. Their mental capabilities are no reflection on their hearts. They have a good heart.
David is completely illiterate, and Mary is just literate enough to think that she read then competently explain things to David so he can understand. It is sort of a case of the blind leading the blind. They pay all their bills by money order, since they have no bank account, and their local bills they drive to the local offices and pay in cash.
Recently, Mary got Debbie to try and help her recover a money order she said she sent to the wrong place. Of course, the Money Order people would not speak to Debbie, only to Mary, who had gotten Debbie to speak for her. It was a catch 22 situation. Not much could be done about it. It gets worse before it gets better, it if gets any better.
Mary and David came to me to borrow some money so their power would not get shut off. I did not have the cash in my pocket to give them, which they failed to understand, because they seem to think that we all have pocketfuls of cash at all times. While it is true, I did have the money, I didn’t have a hundred dollars in my pocket at the time. It was a Saturday afternoon, no bank open, nor was the power company open so that they could pay their bill. I knew better. Not only did I not have the hundred dollars, there were plenty of distractions that could come up before David and Mary remembered the money was to pay their power bill before the cut-off date on Tuesday. When Tuesday came round, they could be just as broke, but not likely, since it would be after the first of the month and their Social Security and SSI checks would be in.
Debbie didn’t think she was was getting the full story from Mary, so she pressed her. It seems that Mary had not just sent a money order to the wrong person, she had sent money by Western Union as a victim of a scam. The money order she had sent to the wrong person was actually followed by a demand to send more money to a different person so she could claim $100,000 she was promised she had won in a scam letter.
The original letter notified her that she had won the hundred thousand dollars. In order for her to claim this money and have it sent to her, she would need to send a money order for $200 to a certain person and address listed on the letter. Mary could not believe her good fortune, She explained to David they would be rich. They borrowed the two hundred dollars from every source they could find, purchased the money order and sent it in to the name and address on the letter, expecting any day to receive their hundred thousand dollars. They expected a long time, it seems, with increasing expectations.
Mary got another letter. They were letting her know they had not received the $200 money order and her hundred thousand dollars was in jeopardy. They must sent via Western Union $500 immediately or lose their money. Mary raised the five hundred dollars and sent the money via Western Union, including the exorbitant fees Western Union charged. All told, it cost Mary about $600.00 to send the money. David was a little leery about this, but trusted Mary’s understanding, simply because Mary told him so.
Then, the bastards wanted another money order, saying they had received the first one, but it was improperly addressed and they woud return it along with the hundred thousand dollars as soon as they received the corrected one. At this point, Mary asked Debbie to help her. Mary had spent dozens of dollars on prepaid phone credit cards trying to call the numbers given in the letters, but then was continuously put on hold for far more minutes than she could afford to place on her pre-paid card. Debbie let Mary use her phone. Mary spent nearly two hours being shifted around to various extensions, none of them helping beyond explaining to Mary that she still owed them more money and must sent it via wire promptly else she lose her hundred thousand dollars.
Upon being pressed, Mary produced the letter to Debbie. Debbie was placed in the unfortunate position to explain to Mary that there was no hundred thousand dollars…that the only money in this scam was what they had extorted from her. Mary was skeptical. She just knew that one more proper payment and they would be sending her her hundred thousand dollars…it said so right there on the fancy worded letter, with a fancy letterhead, with her name printed on it. It was official. It looked official. It was from the National Payment Distribution Center. Surely, thought Mary, the National Payment Distribution Center was bound by honor and duty to send her her money. She would not be dissuaded, perhaps thinking others were trying to cheat her out of her money. Perhaps she thought in her heart of hearts that Debbie and I were trying to cheat her out of her money. I don’t know what she thought, but I know that when the realization of what she had done hit her, she broke down in sobs: uncontrollable, gut-wrenching sobs and wails of despair.
“David, I sorry I done this. I wasted all our money and den some. I wasted money we didn’t have. I let dem cheat us after you done tol’ me so,” she sobbed to her core.
David put his arms around her and hugged her. “It gon’ be a’ight, Mary. It gon’ be a’ight. We gon’ make it. Don’ you cry no mo’! It gon’ be a’ight!,” he said, offering such comfort as he could. She wailed and he just held her, gently rocking her back and forth as she buried her face in is chest, whispering in her ear over and over, “It gon’ be a’ight, Mary.” David hated to lose the money, too, but he loved his Mary and wanted to comfort her. He would have moved mountains to comfort her. It was a heart-wrenching sight. You’d have to have been made of stone not to be moved by the pain and compassion displayed.
I knew what to do about their power bill. One quick phone call to the power company to speak to one of the executives I personally know in their accounting department took care of that. If David and Mary get their power cut off, it won’t be this week, or next week, or anytime in May.
It is crime to scam people out of their money, but it is a heinous, scurrilous act of inhumanity to scam the poorest, least mentally capable of people who had nothing when they started and even less when they finished. This is how David and Mary were victimized.
I wish I could get my hands on the National Payment Distribution Center owners.
They would need a jail cell to protect them from me.
I despise thieves and liars, The world is full of them. Our guiding principle in this life should be that the world offers us nothing for free. There is no such thing something for nothing. David and Mary know that, but were thrown off by a fancy letterhead, glittering and promising gold and riches.
Mary and David will recover. They have each other. God bless them both and restore them fourfold.
©2017 Mississippi Chris Sharp
PS: David and Mary come fishing in our pond about twice a week. The catch enough fish for their supper, then they leave. They never catch more than they are planning to eat the same day. I expect I’ve got plenty of more work for David. Mary will supervise him as she is unable to perform much physical work.