So, here’s a story about when I went to New Orleans last month. Everyone here at home loves it when I tell it, so I figured I would share it with you all even though it probably won’t come across as funny through text. This is a true story about the time I was swindled by a con artist. The lesson? Never get swindled by a con artist.
On Wednesday during our mission trip week, we had the opportunity to head into the French Quarter, which is a major tourist attraction in New Orleans. Two friends and I were walking near the Saint Louis Cathedral, and one friend mentioned that there was a nice lookout across the road. Following his advice, we headed to the lookout. He was right’ the view was great. Looking one direction, we could see a statue of (I think it was) Andrew Jackson in the foreground and the cathedral in the background. Looking the other way, we could see the Mississippi River as it passed through the city.
As I was admiring a cannon memorial that was set up on this lookout, a man with a Cajun accent, a plain white shirt, and black denim pants came up to us and looked at one of my friends’ shoes.
“Man, I like your shoes!” he says.
My friend politely says thanks and looks away.
“I bet I could tell you where you got ’em. I bet I could tell all you where you got your shoes,” he says. He asks us all if we remember where we got our shoes, to which my friends say yes, but I truthfully say that I don’t. He proceeds to tell me he can still tell me where I got them.
“Actually, I bet I could tell you where you got your shoes, how many babies your daddy had, and where you’re from,” he boasts. My friends and I look at each other and smirk, saying that there’s no way he could possibly know all that about us.
“If I get it right, you let me give you a shoeshine. If I’m wrong, I just walk away,” he says. He asks if we have a deal, and if we can shake on it, to which we all agree. After all, he couldn’t possibly know all the answers!
At this point, the three of us start laughing and smiling simply because we knew he was right. After all, considering the way he worded everything, it was all true! We laughed at the joke while the man bent down and squirted shoeshine on our sneakers and led us to a park bench. All the while, he was asking us questions about where we really were from, and he kept saying, “Welcome to New Orleans!”
At the end of the shoeshines, he looked at each of us and told us we each owed him $20. We were floored. At no point in this ordeal had it occurred to us that the shoeshine wouldn’t be free. After all, he never said he would charge us for it… but then again, he never told us it would be free of charge. By this time, a fellow con artist came up and was standing next to his friend, essentially keeping us cornered in the bench.
I’m sure they could tell by the looks on our faces that were were confused, worried, and a bit irritated. They then told us that they’d cut the price in half; only $10 apiece for the shoeshines. Not knowing what else to do, we each paid up like the naive little tourists we were. Just like that, they walked away with $30 in cold hard cash within 5 minutes; as much as I make in a 4.5 hour shift at work.
And thus ends the tale of the time I was slyly conned out of $10 by a shoeshining swindler in New Orleans. But wait, maybe I’m not done yet! We soon found out that he never even shined our shoes; he simply used dish soap! So, needless to say, we each spent the rest of our day regretting our mistakes and still shocked and confused by what had happened in such a short time.
Needless to say, I won’t be falling for that trick ever again, and I will always remember the incident when I go back to New Orleans for future mission trips.