This happened a few years ago in San Francisco when I was approached by possibly the best spare change artist of all time. He came up to me on Van Ness Ave. looking very sincere and asked me for money so that he could get back home to New York. He gave me his story about how he was a licensed welder and how he had heard that there was a lot of work out here in California but after he got here that turned out to be not so and he had spent all of his money looking for work and now he needed to get back home.

He seemed real enough. No druggie looks. He appeared clean. And it was so plausible and so well presented that one would be inclined to believe it.

Just to validate his claim of who he was I said, ‘I am going to ask you a question, if you can answer it I will give you money to help get you home. But, if you can’t answer it, I want you to just walk away. Okay’?

He said,  ‘Yeah. Okay’.

 I asked, ‘What is TIG’? (Tungsten Inert Gas – a welding technique that any licensed welder or a journeyman apprentice for that matter would know).

 ‘Ah, ah, ah’…

 I looked him him in the eye and said, ‘Just walk away’.

 It seems he didn’t plan on laying his rap on someone who actually knew a little about the welding trade.