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Times are changing, so are the people

My birth certificate can’t be right. I don’t feel the “number” that describes me relative to age.

However, that said, I do remember that when my father shook someone’s hand to consummate a deal, that handshake meant something.

If 21st century humanity lacks anything, it is that sense of trust and honesty that many of us grew up considering the natural order of things.

Promises … were kept.

Deals … were honored.

Your word … defined you.

Today, new acquaintances start from a position of distrust and then over a period of time earn the trust that society once took for granted. And that’s what I want to talk about this week.

Two “fraud” things happened to me today. At about 2:30 PM, my phone rang. A heavily accented voice introduced himself as “Mr. Ramsey” and claimed that he was calling on behalf of Microsoft Corporate Security.

He told me that there had been a security breach and he was going to help me adjust my Windows so it would not affect me. “Turn on your computer so I can help you,” he ordered.

“There’s a computer here, but I don’t know how to turn it on. It belongs to my daughter,” I responded.

“Sit at her desk and I will help you through this,” said Mr. Whomever-he-was.

Let’s face it; I’m perfectly capable of turning a computer on, but I played the little old lady just to mess with him. “Is the on switch part of that little blinky thing?” I queried? About three more Q&A exchanges and Ramsey hung up on me.

Shortly thereafter the doorbell rang and I encountered two ill-dressed grown women who were collecting donations for the Police Foundation.

They received as much cooperation from this little old lady as Mr. Ramsey had.

Giving them $20 would allow two under privileged children to attend the circus. Or a music camp. Or whatever sounds good. If the homeowner balks, they cut the amount in half and say, “Well won’t you at least support one child?”

The unsolicited calls, the visits, the letters, the advertisements … they share the common denominator of at least some level of deceit.

The Fireman’s Benevolent Fund, the Shoes for Zimbabwe Children, the driveway pavers who just happen to have enough extra material to give YOU a fabulous deal, the caller who insists that you have won a cruise — every one of them has elements of dishonesty.

Sometimes it’s really hard because we want to believe in the goodness of people or because the bearer of good news really looks the part of an honest person, however, as Nancy Reagan so eloquently put it, “Just Say No.”

I know it’s difficult, but both the times and the numbers are not in your favor. We live in an age of schemes, scams and flimflams.

We’re not in Kansans anymore, Toto.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

And promises from strangers seldom mean squat.

Be careful out there!

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

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