FAMILY FREELOADERS- PART 2
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THE FAMILY FREELOADER
JACK AND RHONDA
SLOTHFULNESS CASTETH INTO A DEEP SLEEP; AND AN IDLE SOUL SHALL SUFFER HUNGER…..Proverbs 19: 15 KJV.
ISRAEL’S WATCHMEN ARE BLIND, THEY ALL LACK KNOWLEDGE; THEY ARE ALL MUTE DOGS, THEY CANNOT BARK; THEY LIE AROUND AND DREAM, THEY LOVE TO SLEEP. THEY ARE DOGS WITH MIGHTY APPETITES; THEY NEVER HAVE ENOUGH. THEY ARE SHEPHERDS WHO LACK UNDERSTANDING; THEY ALL TURN TO THEIR OWN WAY, EACH SEEKS HIS OWN GAIN….Isaiah 56: 10-11 NIV
Jack and Rhonda are schnorrers extraordinaire. They have elevated freeloading into high art. Their subtlety and finesse are so perfected that you don’t even realize you’re being scammed. They are visionaries when it comes to finding kind-hearted folks who will feel sorry for them. After working their way through every relative and friend, they have found it profitable to be “good Christians”, and have discovered that churches are the perfect hunting grounds for preying on soft touches who will give them handouts. They establish themselves in a church, come across as very sweet and sincere folks who have their share of hard luck, insinuate themselves into the congregation, make friends, bilk as much as they can out of each church member, and then pick up and move on to the next church when folks start catching on and the well runs dry.
Rhonda doesn’t spend all day watching soap operas for nothing. She thinks of daytime TV as a distance-learning, home study, college course. She has an Oscar-worthy act that would rival the best of the soap opera drama queens, and her timing is impeccable when it comes to milking an opportunity for all it’s worth. She will wait until the week before Christmas, and then she will choose her mark, usually a kind-hearted church lady or elderly neighbor. She will strike up a conversation, showing an interest in the victim’s life. Then, in the middle of discussing the weather or her mark’s health, she will casually ask if the other lady has finished her Christmas shopping. This is the set-up. Upon hearing the answer, whatever it is, she will up the ante, making a comment along the lines of “I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet.”
Naturally, the mark will ask why, giving Rhonda the chance to go in for the kill. Rhonda will cast her welling-up eyes downward as if embarrassed, and quietly whisper that she HAS NO MONEY to buy anything for her children. Dabbing at her escaping tears, she’ll add, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do this year.” Whereupon the pigeon will say “There, there, don’t cry. Please let me help” as she digs out her wallet or checkbook. Rhonda will weakly protest, “No, you don’t have to do that. That’s not why I told you. I just needed some prayer….”, but she’ll take the money anyway, with sad eyes and “sincere” thanks.
And that night, you’ll run into her and her family, eating out at the Olive Garden. The thing is, Rhonda won’t have had this “embarrassing, hush-hush” little conversation with just one person. She pigeonholed one mark after church one week, and another the next week. She conned one person before church and another one after church. At the Women’s Ministry meeting that week, she scammed money out of yet another sucker. She’s good for two or three people at the church Christmas Party, managing to get each one alone and in private, drawing them stealthily away from the crowd and into a corner or another room.
And although Christmas is a veritable windfall of excuses to hit up good-hearted folks who are in a charitable and generous mood, Rhonda doesn’t miss any of a myriad of other opportunities to score during the year. On Father’s Day, her father will be dying in the hospital, and she will not have enough money to buy gas so she can visit him on the last Father’s Day he’ll ever have. Her mother will be getting kicked out of her apartment, and Rhonda will not have enough money to help her pay the rent. Her children will be starting school next week, and Rhonda will not have enough money to buy them clothes or school supplies. There will be two feet of snow on the ground and Rhonda will come to church in summer shoes because she doesn’t have enough money to buy boots.
Rhonda and Jack are geniuses at making you WANT to give them money. Their round-about hints and tactics are an almost subliminal form of brainwashing. Suddenly you’ll realize you just handed one of them $50, and you’re not even sure what just happened.
One of their best tricks is to only ask for SMALL amounts of money. And most of the time, they don’t even ask outright, they just hint. If they asked for $100 or so, people would hesitate, and many would not be able to afford to help them. It sounds more pathetic to ask for, or say that you need, only a pittance, and their marks think “Well, gee, I can afford $20 so they can buy school supplies for their kids.” The thing is, they get $20 from you, $10 from someone else, $30 from yet another person, $15 from somebody else, and it all adds up. Their strategy is to ask for a tiny amount of money, but ask for it from a large number of people. They pretend to be “ashamed” to have to accept your money, so you don’t tell anyone else about it, because you don’t want to embarrass them. So they are able to go from one to the other and run the same con on each person. It works like a charm, until, usually after catching them in a lie or a contradiction, everybody finally starts comparing notes and wising up.
An even more subtle trick involves never actually ASKING or MENTIONING that they want money, but instead THANKING the mysterious, nameless people who have given them money in the past. Jack will often tell his “testimony” of the people who have so generously helped him, folks who came to the rescue just in time to save him and his family from financial disaster, and how grateful he was to them. He won’t mention names, but he will talk about how kind and wonderful they were, how they blessed him, and how God then blessed them for giving more than they really could afford, just to help his family. His appreciation is so great that he still tells people about his “heroes” all these years later. By the time he’s done, folks are just about lining up to be another one of Jack’s heroes. Wouldn’t YOU also want to be one of the people who have helped Jack and his family? Wouldn’t it make you feel good to have this man be so grateful for any small amount you can give? Plus, it’s what God wants you to do. And then God will reward you and bless you.
But, if you listen carefully as Jack repeats the same stories, eventually things will start getting interesting. Jack will start to slip up. He’ll contradict himself. The details will change. It will be the same basic plot, but he’ll forget what he said the last time he told it.
One of Jack favorite pathetic fairy tales is how, about a year ago (or was it last week? Or 10 years ago?), he and Rhonda and the kids were down to their last item of food. At various times, it’s been their last box of cereal, their last package of hot dogs, their last loaf of bread, their last bottle of baby formula, or the bottom of their last jar of peanut butter. They prayed and prayed for God to provide (And they also told a dozen neighbors and church members all about their predicament, and how they were praying for help).
Then, a miracle! Depending on which version you’re hearing, a car drove up their driveway, someone walked up the driveway, somebody knocked on the door, or they heard someone ring their doorbell. And there on the porch was standing a woman/ man/ teenager/ neighbor/ church member whom they knew, with A) Bags of groceries, B) A car trunk full of food, C) Home-cooked meals for the next week, D) Gift certificates for the local supermarket, E) An envelope full of cash, or F) a check for anywhere from $25 to $2000. Take your pick. The only significant plot deviation is that occasionally the check arrives in the mail or the food/ groceries/ envelope of cash is anonymously left on the porch. Even more convenient- now they don’t even have to invite the donor in and show a little hospitality.
By some strange coincidence, these “miracles from God” always seem to occur after Jack and Rhonda have spread their latest hard-luck story around to a few dozen soft-hearted saps. Many times, the “miracle” appeared on the porch on Sunday evening or Monday morning, after a particularly productive day at church. You can’t say “God gave it to you” if you told ten or fifteen people you needed it, and one of them finally anteed up. The only way you can claim that God provided is if you keep your needs to yourself, don’t tell anyone, and just pray about it. Then when a miracle happens and your prayers are answered, you can truthfully say that God did it.
Sometimes, along with living a lie and continually having to fake poverty in order to sponge off others, comes a unique kind of paranoia. Rhonda and Jack are super-defensive about anything nice they might be “caught with”, quick to jump in with an explanation when no explanation is necessary, lest you think they really CAN afford the normal niceties of life without your help. If you compliment Rhonda on her dress, instead of saying “Thank you” and leaving it at that, the first thing out of her mouth will be that her sister gave it to her, or that she bought it at a 75% off sale. If you happen to mention that her kids look cute, she will immediately start explaining that she bought their outfits at the thrift shop for $5.00.
Nobody asked how much anything cost. People are simply trying to be friendly and polite by complimenting her or her kids. They don’t need to know, or care to know, the price of everything on Rhonda and her family’s backs. When someone compliments you, all that is called for is a smile and a simple “Thank you. How kind of you to say so”, not a guilty explanation, as if you were caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Rhonda is so quick to explain away everything from a new haircut to a new pair of shoes that you get the distinct impression she rehearsed the story beforehand. She prepared in advance for the possibility of someone noticing her new dress, so she could still be free to actually WEAR her new dress in public while continuing her ruse of not being able to AFFORD a new dress. It takes effort and premeditation to keep making people feel sorry for you when you have better clothes than they do.
Whenever they move on to a new church, Jack, who plays the guitar, immediately volunteers for the music ministry, so that he can “give something back” and “serve the Lord”. He quickly becomes accepted into the inner circle and well-known as a humble servant, ready to help out the church with his musical gift. He’s such a nice man, and the church is so blessed to have him and his family as members.
But after a few weeks, disaster strikes! As the congregation files in for Sunday service, they will be surprised to see Jack sitting forlornly in the pew with Rhonda, instead of up front tuning his guitar with the band. Of course, EVERYBODY is going to ask Jack what happened. Why isn’t he playing his guitar this week? Jack will smile sweetly and thank them for asking. He’ll explain that his strings are broken, stretched out, and/or too old to hold a tune anymore, and that he’ll buy new set as soon as he “gets his tax return”. Then he’ll be right back up there, playing all the hymns everybody loves so much and a-praisin’ God! So, one by one, before and after service, people will quietly approach him or Rhonda, so as not to shame them, whisper something about how they’d like to donate toward the church’s music ministry and Jack could put it to good use by buying a set of guitar strings, and hand him a check, or slip $20 into his pocket. Before he goes home that afternoon, Jack will have collected enough money from the generous church folk to buy a whole new guitar.
The last time Jack pulled the too-poor-to-afford-a-pack-of-guitar-strings-till-I-get-my-income-tax-return scam, it was in the month of May. Unfortunately, he had forgotten going out for a night on the town back in February, and running into church members Tina and Kyle. Surprised to see the normally rumpled Jack all decked out in an expensive new suit, Tina and Kyle complimented him on how nice he looked and what a beautiful suit he was wearing. Whereupon Jack told them that all his clothes were old and in bad shape, and that he had desperately needed some nice clothes to go job-hunting. But thank God, he had JUST GOTTEN HIS TAX RETURN, and used it to buy a couple of new suits!
Tina and Kyle remembered thinking at the time that it seemed awfully soon to get a tax return, being only February, and that Jack must have filed his taxes very early to get his refund so fast. So imagine their consternation when they heard Jack claim in MAY that he was still waiting for the tax return he supposedly got THREE MONTHS AGO, in FEBRUARY. Distressed at noticing their church family members quietly slipping Jack and Rhonda money for “guitar strings”, and horrified at realizing they were all being played for fools, Tina and Kyle enlightened the others.
By that time, many had already noticed inconsistencies in the tall tales Jack and Rhonda would tell, and Tina and Kyle’s revelation made them even more suspicious of Jack and Rhonda’s true motives, and true financial situation. The church folk stopped getting taken in by Jack and Rhonda’s tales of woe and stopped giving them handouts. Shortly thereafter, Jack and Rhonda left the church, and moved on to the next one.
THE SCHNORRER TAG TEAM
DOUG AND MARSHA
LAZY PEOPLE CONSIDER THEMSELVES SMARTER THAN SEVEN WISE COUNSELORS…..Proverbs 26: 16 NLT
As we’ve already noticed, many family freeloaders are married, and work in teams. There are many benefits to teamwork. Two sets of friends and relatives to con. Double the amount of fake illnesses, disabilities, job losses, and hard-luck stories. The ability to compliment each other and combine two sets of talents for eliciting sympathy and guilt from others. And the credibility of having another person to back up your tall tales.
Doug and Marsha have freeloaded off their families for years and are currently living, rent-free, with the three children they decided to have even though they couldn’t support them, in a rental owned by Marsha’s sister and her husband. When Marsha’s sister and brother-in-law bought this house, they bought it as an investment. They needed the rental income. They were happy to rent it to relatives because they thought they were getting good tenants. When Doug and Marsha “fell on hard times” and stopped paying the rent, what could Marsha’s sister do? Throw her sister and her family out on the street?
It’s been eight years since the chronically under-employed Doug and Marsha have paid rent. But during that time, they bought a new, not used, car, took vacations every year, and had yet another baby. Meanwhile Marsha’s sister and her husband are on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. They are paying the mortgage, taxes, and upkeep on their “rental” property, which is generating no income for them, and have both had to take second jobs to make ends meet, while Doug and Marsha basically sit at home and play with the kids all day.
Somewhere along the line, Doug decided that he wasn’t cut out to work a regular 9-to-5 job and was much more suited to working for himself. This way he could choose his own hours and be home to help the “overwhelmed” Marsha with their children. Arrogant Doug fancied himself a “counselor” based on his worthless 10 years of college that never led to anything useful. So he set aside a room in the house as an “office”, the better to get an income tax deduction for, printed up business cards, and hung out a shingle.
At social, church and community events, Doug and Marsha would proudly relate his new “vocation”. Pass the word- if anyone needs any counseling, Doug’s here to help. Only problem was, if you did need counseling, good luck trying to find him. He had no office hours. He did not take calls during the day. He was only available for “work” in the middle of the night, and claimed that he spent the wee hours “doing research.”
If you wanted to make an appointment, you would need to be “flexible”. He could only see you at odd hours and different times every day, depending on his schedule of driving the kids to school and doing things at home. If you needed to talk on the phone, you could never get Doug in private. Since he had no office hours, there was no time that you could reach him personally. If you called him at home, Marsha would be privy to your “confidential” counseling session. If you left a message on his office voice mail, he would call you back from the house, and “counsel” you from his kitchen, after he put the baby on the phone for a minute for you to talk to, and with Marsha and the other kids listening in. Needless to say, Doug’s “counseling” business never got off the ground, the “tough times” continued, and he and Marsha continued freeloading.
Doug and Marsha both had a variety of vague and mysterious “health conditions” that they used to get out of doing anything they didn’t want to do. They had an act whereby whoever was “sick”, “tired”, or “upset” would not complain directly. Instead, they would take turns relating each other’s sob stories rather than their own. They would back one another up. If Marsha didn’t show at a family event, because she was lazing around in her pajamas, she would not speak for herself and call the host personally with her regrets. Instead, Doug would make excuses for her. He would tell everyone that one of her chronic “illnesses” had flared up. If you remarked that you spoke to her that morning and she never mentioned anything about it, he would say “Well, you know Marsha doesn’t like to complain”, implying that she was so brave, she just lived with all these problems and dealt with them herself, and that she was so saintly, she didn’t want to trouble anyone. But that afternoon, you’d run into them at Walmart, and Marsha would be fine, having had a miraculous recovery.
Every now and then, one of the relatives would get fed up with Doug and Marsha always crying poverty and suggest that Marsha take care of the kids without Doug’s help, and that Doug GET A JOB. People even arranged interviews for Doug, and offered him jobs in their businesses. Horrors! How were they going to weasel out of this?
Well, first Marsha would look you dead in the eye and thank you for your kindness. And then, after pretending to seriously think it over a bit and fret about it, a look of concern would cross her face, and she would add “But I don’t know how he’d be able to work TWO FULL TIME JOBS with his health.”
For a second you’d blink in confusion. Are we talking about DOUG here? OUR Doug? Or did the topic get changed to someone else without you noticing?
Two full-time jobs? What’s the other one? WHAT full-time job does Doug have? Oh, riiiiightttt….he’s a “counselor”. Maybe we’re not on the same page when it comes to defining “full-time.” In my book, full-time is 40 hours a week, maybe 36-38. If Doug puts in 4 hours a week, reading psychology books and re-arranging his “office”, it’s a lot.
Who are they kidding? The only “full-time job” Doug has is “Professional Bum.” But Marsha will say this with a perfectly straight face, and she will often say it in front of witnesses. You will think that Marsha must be delusional, or insane. But she isn’t. This is a very calculated maneuver.
You see, Marsha is daring you to contradict her. She’s pushing your buttons, to see if you have the nerve to accuse Doug of malingering by suggesting that he most certainly does not have a full-time job at the moment. She’s also fishing to see what you already know about, and what you think of, Doug’s freeloading. If you object to her “full-time job” remark, she’ll know you’re onto them and that you disapprove- making you an enemy not to be trusted, a dangerous person who might tell others what she and Doug are up to.
If you let it slide without comment, then she’ll either think you’re too stupid to realize that she and Doug have been conning everybody, or she’ll take it as tacit approval. Either way, she’ll be able to relax around you, and not be so wary that you’ll expose her.
Making this preposterous “full-time job” statement in front of witnesses adds another level of intrigue to the scam. Marsha is counting on you not having the nerve to challenge her in front of other people. If you do, she’ll get huffy and create a scene, or start crying and pretending to be hurt, making you look like a big, old meanie.
But, if you don’t challenge her, your silence will indicate agreement to the others. After all, if it seems like YOU believe her, then, even if they had their suspicions, they’ll begin to doubt themselves and think that maybe they might have been mistaken, or judged too harshly. Maybe there’s more to it- something you know that they don’t. So Marsha will be able to USE YOU to give her and Doug, and their lame excuses, more credibility with other people. No matter how you react, it’s a win-win situation for Marsha and Doug. When the Schnorrer Team gangs up on you, you don’t stand a chance.
SHERMAN AND DAISY
PROVE THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT
THE LEECH HAS TWO DAUGHTERS- GIVE AND GIVE!.....Proverbs 30:15 NKJV.
One thing we have to give the family schnorrer credit for is his dazzling versatility. Freeloaders are not one-trick ponies. They have, in fact, a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks, and are able to segue effortlessly from one to another. As soon as you and the rest of the family catch on and figure out their modus operandi, they will drop it completely, and switch to something else. Preferably something unexpected, more subtle, and much sneakier. Then they will squeeze as much mileage as they can out of their new act, until it too stops working. And it will be on to the next scam, without so much a batting an eye. The possibilities are infinite, and you will never be able to anticipate from which direction the next sneak attack will come.
Amateur schnorrers will clumsily ask you outright for money, favors, or loans (which they will conveniently forget to pay back, or will later insist were “gifts”). But as schnorrers mature, they learn less obvious and much more effective ways for scamming money out of people. Tricks that are hard for their marks, normal good-hearted folks who don’t think like con-artists and criminals, to recognize and see through, and therefore more difficult to combat. A full-grown parasite is way more sneaky and underhanded in his methodology than a baby one.
We have distant relatives, Sherman and Daisy, AKA Lazy Daisy, who have been the family sponges for as long as anyone can remember. Famous for “borrowing” money that never gets repaid, as well as for the usual hard-luck stories and phony illnesses, Sherman and Daisy have nevertheless managed to live quite nicely on government handouts and whatever they can leech off their relatives.
It took awhile, but eventually the family caught onto their act, and the handouts dried up. At first, Sherman and Daisy had an adjustment period to go through- a time of realizing and absorbing the fact that no one believed their tall tales anymore, and no one was going to give them any more free money. It was fascinating to watch. They actually seemed to go through the famous Five Stages of Grief. At first they couldn’t believe it. Then they got angry at everyone and tried the Silent Treatment. And eventually, they progressed on to a reluctant acceptance of their new reality.
Now at this point, you would think that maybe they’d say, “Oh, well. We had a great run, and we milked it for all it was worth, but now it’s over. Time to grow up and get a job.” But, noooo…….
While others might have matured and realized it was time to take responsibility for supporting themselves, Sherman and Daisy’s version of maturing consisted of reaching new heights of conniving. They took it as a challenge. Time to take this mission underground. Time for covert operations. Time to invent some new methods for raising cash, none of which would include the word JOB, of course. Never underestimate the creativity of a malingering con-artist who’s getting a little desperate.
For starters, over a period of about eighteen months, Sherman became involved in three separate sure-fire “investment opportunities” that he very generously offered to cut his relatives in on. But the more savvy relatives recognized his pyramid schemes for what they were and headed him off at the pass, making sure to warn the more gullible and trusting family members, as well as the elderly ones, NOT to give Sherman any money, sign anything he might give them, or even discuss it with him. So one by one, his “sure things” fizzled, never to be spoken of again.
Sherman then decided that he was a “handyman”, albeit one who had never hammered a nail into the wall to hang a picture. He started offering to do chores, cleanups, and small repairs for his friends and relatives- for a price, of course. Wanting to help out and support his efforts, several family members came up with a few things around the house that they could hire him for. Dependable as always, Sherman would take deposits on these little jobs, and then never finish them. He would show up an hour here and an hour there, once a week or so, keeping his “customers” living in a mess and never knowing when he would come back, for weeks, until they finally gave up in frustration, told him not to bother anymore and to just keep the money, and finished the jobs themselves. Bingo! What a perfect career for Sherman!
Seeing that her loser husband was such an overwhelming success at his home-based businesses, Daisy decided to give it a shot, too. She began by announcing that she was starting a day-care in her house, and asked every working relative to leave their children with her instead of with a “stranger”. Also, why not keep the MONEY in the family, as well as the children, instead of letting “strangers” have it? The family thought this was hilarious, seeing as Daisy hardly ever got up off the sofa to take care of her OWN two kids. How much more neglectful would she be of someone else’s child? No one was about to find out, so everyone politely declined and stuck with their previous child-care providers. Daisy was highly insulted, and for months refused to speak to any of those who had turned down her offer. That is, of course, until the next time she wanted something from them.
That next time was when she decided to be a door-to-door cosmetic salesperson. Most of the relatives avoided getting involved, but a few tried to “keep the peace” by ordering some items from her. And guess what happened? They never saw their cosmetics OR their money again.
The same thing happened when Sherman and Daisy’s kids went from relative to relative hawking over-priced junk for school or sports team fundraisers. Now how is Granny or Auntie Sue going to turn down a cute little kid? After all, it’s not THEIR fault their parents are low-life, swindling skanks. Once again, no one ever got any merchandise, and they didn’t get their money back, either.
After this, Daisy went on a house-party kick. Every month, she would impose on the family to attend another sale in her house- everything from plastic containers, to lingerie, to holiday ornaments. Besides pressuring everybody to attend, she would assign each person a dish to bring as well, so the party wouldn’t even cost her anything. If someone tried to wiggle out of attending, she would insist on dropping by with a catalog so they could order anyway, and she’d sit there until they did. The best part was when she told several relatives, who had previously entertained her in their homes, that she was now RECIPROCATING THEIR INVITATIONS by inviting them to HER house. As if being expected to come and BUY something so that your “hostess” can make a profit off of you, AND bring a dish to boot, is a legitimate way to return someone’s hospitality.
Needless to say, the scams and high-pressure tactics turned off a lot of people, and many started avoiding Sherman and Daisy like the plague. Hmmm, time to shift gears again, and try something new. Sherman and Daisy put on their Thinking Caps, and came up with the “Command Performance”- something the family would be forced to attend on a regular basis and feel pressured to stay at while they were being targeted.
Here’s how it worked: Sherman, Daisy, and their two kids, all have summer birthdays. Also, Sherman and Daisy’s anniversary is in August. So Sherman and Daisy decided to celebrate with- count ‘em- FIVE parties every summer. FIVE gift-giving occasions, and let’s not forget FIVE opportunities to make it a “covered dish” and have everybody else supply the food. Family members were often stumped on what to buy Sherman and Daisy, who appeared to have pretty much everything they needed. When they asked for suggestions on what to give, Sherman and Daisy would point-blank admit that they didn’t need anything and ask for a check instead of a gift.
Now the plot starts thickening. Although Sherman and Daisy’s house has central air, they started making a point of complaining constantly about their electric bills, and saying that they had to keep the air conditioning down because they couldn’t afford to turn it up, apparently not even for a few hours. They would have their parties INSIDE, on the hottest summer days, and then claim that they could not afford to turn up the air. Their strategy was to literally make people SUFFER, until someone finally offered to help them pay their electric bill.
My husband and I were among the relatives who had long since caught onto Sherman and Daisy and stopped giving them handouts. The first party was early in the summer, and thankfully it wasn’t too hot yet, so I managed to make it through a couple of hours before going home. At the next party, it was hotter and much more humid. I have asthma, and cannot breathe in heat and humidity, which my family, including Sherman and Daisy, knew. My husband checked the thermostat, and saw that it was at 75. He asked Sherman to turn up the air, and told him that if he couldn’t, then we would have to leave because I was having trouble breathing.
Full of phony apologies, and repeated whining over how they could not afford to pay their electric bill, accompanied by the appropriate expression of fake embarrassment, Sherman agreed to turn up the air, and all was fine. Throughout that party and the whole next week, in an effort to divert attention from their own devious conniving and make them seem saintly and full of pure motives, he and Daisy repeatedly expressed “concern” over my “health”, publicly announced the fact that I have asthma to their friends and neighbors, asked people to “pray for me”, and had family members so worked up that they were calling me at home to see if I was okay. I assured everyone, including Sherman and Daisy, that I was absolutely fine, and all I needed was the air-conditioning to be set on a reasonable level. I also asked Sherman and Daisy to keep my personal medical issues private and stop asking people to “pray” for me, when there was nothing wrong with me that some normal air-conditioning wouldn’t take care of.
Well, you guessed it. One week later was the next party at Sherman and Daisy’s house. And this time, the thermostat was set at 80. Even better, the ceiling fan which had been set on high the week before, was now turning as slowly as possible, having intentionally been clicked to the lowest possible setting. Half an hour into the festivities, everyone was sweating and fanning themselves, and I was ready to pass out. My husband got up and turned the thermostat down to 70, and after a while the house became comfortable. Even Sherman was comfortable, so much so that he didn’t realize the thermostat had been turned down until the party was almost over and many of the guests had left. As soon as he realized it, he marched to the thermostat and raised the temperature again, at which point we left, too.
So, let’s review. What exactly happened here? For decades, Sherman and Daisy had been able to manipulate the family into giving them money. But lately, no one was taking their hints. The week before, Sherman had deliberately set the air at an uncomfortable level in an effort to make everyone think that he couldn’t afford to pay his electric bill. He was just WAITING for someone to mention how hot it was, so he could jump on the opportunity to cry poverty. He was hoping that someone would take pity on him and his family, having to sweat out the summer in such a hot house, and slip him a few bucks, like they had in the past. But no one did. When caught and confronted by my husband, he didn’t have the nerve to refuse to turn the air up. So he did set the thermostat lower, but not without numerous complaints that he really couldn’t afford it, accompanied by the appropriate heavy sighs. As if he was doing US a big favor by making it possible for me to stay, given my life-threatening illness, even though it would cause him undue financial strain.
And we should have been grateful for that favor, and pitched in some money to help him pay his bills, just like the old days. Never mind that we had already 1) Brought a gift, and 2) Brought a dish, so he and Daisy wouldn’t even have to foot the bill for their own party. Now we should pay for his air-conditioning too. Hey, maybe we should just pass the hat around and take up a collection!
When we failed to take the hint that day, the next week Sherman upped the ante. He set the thermostat even HIGHER, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to breathe, and that he was risking my life, or at least a possible trip to the Emergency Room. He thought my family and I, as well as the rest of the relatives, were his captive audience, obligated to attend the rest of his Command Performance “parties” that were yet to come that summer. Surely we would have to break down and contribute to his electric costs if we expected to be comfortable in his house. Smug and self-satisfied Sherman was quite pleased with himself, thinking that he had outfoxed us and backed us into a corner. We’d be writing him a check any minute, now. Very clever.
Unfortunately, Sherman is not a very good chess player. He thinks he’s a genius at manipulation, and everybody else is an idiot. Handicapped by a narcissist’s typical tunnel vision, he failed to anticipate that there were other options for us besides coming to his parties and suffering, or else giving him money so that we could come to his parties and be comfortable. It just never dawned on his that we had another choice.
There was always option #3- STAYING HOME. In our own comfortably cool, properly air-conditioned home. NOT taking a trip to the store and spending money to shop for and wrap a gift. NOT writing a check as a gift. NOT shopping and spending money on the ingredients for the covered dish I was NOT going cook and contribute to entertaining HIS guests at HIS party. Well, duh, Sherman. Looks like this little plan backfired on you.
Even if by some miracle, Sherman and Daisy had had the brains to anticipate the possibility that we would turn down their invitations, surely, they thought, we would still send a gift, or better yet a check. A win-win situation for them, to be sure. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about feeding us, buying enough soda or paper goods for our family of four, or even making the effort to make polite conversation with us. They wouldn’t have to bother with us at all. They could just sit at home and wait for our check to arrive in the mail. What could be better than that?
But, sadly for them, when we stopped coming, our money stopped coming, too. We were offended and angry at their disregard for the comfort of their guests and my safety, not to mention their transparent attempts to BLACKMAIL us into PAYING THEM to turn up their own air-conditioning. If they were going to make it dangerous and impossible for me to attend their parties, and make me feel unwelcome in their home because it was costing them too much to have me there, then there was no way I was going to PAY them for forcing me to stay home by sending them a gift or a check anyway. I mean, seriously. Why should I reward them for caring so little about me that they would deliberately TRY to make me sick?
When we stopped attending their parties, so did most of the other relatives. It only takes one with the nerve to say “No” to get the ball rolling and give others the courage to say “No” also. Five parties in a two-month period for the same family was a little much, anyway. No one else ever imposed on the whole rest of the family to that extent. So people were relieved to bow out, anyway. And for sure nobody felt like buying a gift, cooking a dish, and getting all dressed up nice, only to suffer for hours through a steambath “party” from hell. This is one sneaky, underhanded, dirty little trick that came back and bit Sherman and Daisy on the you-know-what big-time.
These days, most of us avoid Sherman and Daisy as much as possible, so I really don’t know what latest schemes they might be up to. Although when I find out, I’m sure it will be good for at least another chapter or two. Too bad they’re too lazy to put all that creativity and imagination into something constructive, instead of using it to try and soak the family over and over again for cash and gifts. Now that pretty much everyone is onto them, and no one is subsidizing them anymore, I wonder what their next move will be. Maybe one day soon, they’ll actually be forced to start setting the alarm, getting their butts out of bed, getting dressed, and GOING TO WORK ALL DAY, five days a week, to earn their keep, like everybody else does. They’ll no doubt be distraught when that day arrives. Surely it will be the lowest point of their lives!
My biggest regret in all of this is that I never, while I had the chance, once thought to turn the tables on Sherman and Daisy and hit THEM up for money, just for fun. I was so busy deflecting THEIR arrows that I never thought to launch a few myself, and then sit back and watch the show. Seeing their jaws drop would have been priceless!
THE SOUL OF THE SLUGGARD DESIRETH, AND HATH NOTHING: BUT THE SOUL OF THE DILIGENT SHALL BE MADE FAT…Proverbs 13:4 KJV.
BEHOLD, THIS WAS THE INIQUITY OF THY SISTER SODOM, PRIDE, FULNESS OF BREAD, AND ABUNDANCE OF IDLENESS WAS IN HER AND HER DAUGHTERS, NEITHER DID SHE STRENGTHEN THE HAND OF THE POOR AND NEEDY. AND THEY WERE HAUGHTY AND COMMITTED ABOMINATION BEFORE ME: THEREFORE I TOOK THEM AWAY AS I SAW GOOD….Ezekiel 16: 49-50 KJV.
Cousin Patty, a notorious freeloader, married Rick, an even bigger a con artist than she was. They got by for years, living off other people and never working a legitimate job. They begged, borrowed and stole, involved naïve relatives in shady real estate deals and pyramid schemes, and ran just about every con you could think of. They targeted family, friends, neighbors, strangers, even boyfriends and girlfriends of their friends or relatives. When their kids grew up, they lived off them and their husbands and wives.
When they run out of people to outright ask for money, Patty will occasionally come up with another way of hitting up their friends and relatives for cash- like having a house party to sell merchandise like plastic containers or holiday ornaments. This ploy also serves to help convince skeptical acquaintances that at least she’s TRYING to make some money. How could you not support her efforts? Nobody appreciates her!
If you went out to dinner with them, they would order everything on the menu and have all the leftovers wrapped up to take home. Then Rick would go into his act, patting his pockets in confusion, and discovering that he had conveniently left his wallet at home. Patty, of course, would have nothing but loose change on her. So whoever had the misfortune to be with them that evening would foot the entire bill for that meal, plus the several other meals Rick and Patty had packed up in doggie bags.
Patty would do things like schnorr money from her elderly grandparents to “feed her kids”, and then she would go to the supermarket and load up on magazines and flowers at the checkout line. She would then bring these as gifts to HER friends, and get the credit for it while making Granny foot the bill for her “generosity”.
One time she begged $50 for food for her “starving” little children from her grandparents. Granny took out her wallet and handed over the money. But later that day, she became concerned that it wasn’t enough to properly feed the kids, so she and Grandpa went to the supermarket and bought $150 worth of groceries for Patty and her family. When they went to her house to deliver the goods, imagine their shock and surprise to find Patty and Rick in the middle of throwing a big cocktail party for all their friends! Fifty people yukking it up, liquor flowing, and plenty of food everywhere. All on Granny’s dime.
Patty and Rick often seemed to be making foolish decisions that didn’t make sense. Like most schnorrers, they created most of their own problems. But there was always a method to their madness, something they weren’t telling you. When you tried to give them helpful suggestions on how to solve a problem they claimed to have, or how to avoid one in the first place, they never took your advice. They always had a reason why your suggestions wouldn’t work. They didn’t want advice. They wanted something more from you. They didn’t want you telling them not to do something, because it would be harmful or costly. They didn’t want you telling them a better way to do it. They wanted to be free to do whatever their little hearts desired, and they wanted you to pay for it.
As her oldest approached school age, Patty decided that the local public school was not the proper environment for her children. She claimed that the school taught evolution and other things that she disagreed with, and she insisted that she would not be able to counteract the school’s influence by simply being an active, involved parent and teaching her children her own beliefs after school. Lazy and “overwhelmed” Patty couldn’t wait to get the kids out of the house so she could “relax” all day, so home-schooling was out-of-the-question. The only option, she stubbornly insisted, was private school, to the tune of almost $5000 a year per child.
Patty’s family and friends were bowled over. Where was THAT money going to come from? If they could afford such a luxury, then obviously, Patty and Rick had a lot more socked away than they were letting on. People tried to convince Patty to save all that money and send the kids to the FREE, NEARBY public school, but she was adamant. It made no sense at all to Patty’s relatives. But that was because Patty was hiding something. She had neglected to tell them about the run-ins she had had with a couple of neighborhood women who happened to be teachers at the local school. She didn’t want her kids in that school because she didn’t want to have to deal with them.
Patty shopped around for private schools and settled on a Christian school an hour’s drive from home, one-way. There was no bus transportation, so Patty and Rick would have to drive the kids and pick them up. That would mean four hours a day on the road. There were several schools that were much closer, but Patty picked this one, insisting that it had a better program. Again, everybody thought she was crazy. But that’s because they didn’t know the whole story.
Turns out Patty had belonged to a Christian women’s group that also happened to have, as members, a number of the mothers whose children attended the nearby schools. Patty had antagonized several members, and also conned many of them. She had quite a reputation by the time she was asked to leave the group. And now she did not want her children to attend any of the schools where she might already be known to the other parents. Hence, the necessity for a school that was further away. A school where no one knew her, and she had a fresh crop of suckers to prey on. Also, while she was in this distant town driving her kids, she’d be able to shop for clothes and shoes, and get her hair and nails done, without running into people she knew.
Patty was confident that she had conned her family into believing that this really was the only choice in schools for her kids. She thought she’d be able to count on them to do some of the driving, to pick her kids up in an “emergency”, and to babysit her younger kids and do some of her chores for her while she drove the older ones back and forth. A few family members lived near the new school, and she figured she could drop in and visit with them, and also ask them to keep her children overnite every now and then, and take them to school the next morning for her, so she wouldn’t have to make the drive.
But Patty’s family was having none of it. They didn’t fall in line and cooperate with the plans she had cooked up for them. They were irritated that she wouldn’t send her kids to public school, for no apparent good reason, or to any of the closer private schools. And they were miffed that she apparently had thousands of dollars to waste, after bumming off of them for years. The way they looked at it, they couldn’t afford private school for their OWN kids, but they had been conned into paying for Patty’s kids to go to private school, since she was living off their money. They weren’t going to throw in free transportation and babysitting, too. Patty was making her own bed, and she’d have to lie in it.
So nobody stepped up to help Patty, and she and Rick were stuck having to deal with the consequences of their own decisions. AND the family stopped giving them handouts, seeing as they could afford an extravagance that no one else could even dream of. Patty has never forgiven her family for not letting her use and exploit them any longer.
Patty was a spoiled narcissist, a lazy malingerer who took on the role of family princess. Quick to fish for invitations to other people’s homes for dinners and holidays, she never once hosted a dinner or holiday herself. She always expected others to do for her, and became passive-aggressive when they didn’t. In fact, she had a routine that the rest of the family laughingly referred to as the “Patty Pout”. When you failed to live up to Patty’s expectations, she would act as if she was mad at the world, giving you and everybody within range the cold shoulder.
When Patty had her kids, she took for granted that everyone on both her and Rick’s sides of the family would be standing in line to help her out. She expected gifts, money, meals dropped off, shopping and laundry done for her, clothes bought for the kids, and unlimited free house-cleaning and babysitting so she could “rest” every day. When everybody else failed to drop all of THEIR responsibilities to take care of HER responsibilities, Patty got more and more resentful. As her kids got older and began running around and needing supervision, instead of taking care of them, Patty simply complained about what a handful they were becoming and “rested” even more.
Patty didn’t dare come out and SAY that she was mad at the relatives for not catering to her every whim, but she made sure they knew it by her behavior. At family gatherings, she would sit in a corner and refuse to acknowledge anyone. If you went over to say hello to her, you would have to bend down to kiss her on the cheek, because she wouldn’t even have the manners to stand up and greet you. She would speak in monosyllables, and if you asked her what was wrong, she’d look away from you and say. “Nothing.” If you asked Rick if she was angry for some reason, he’d reply “Patty doesn’t get mad. She loves everyone.” Notice he didn’t say, “Of course not. Why would she be mad? Nobody did anything wrong!” What he said implied that you, or someone else, DID do something wrong, and that you DESERVED for her to be mad at you- but Patty was too good for that. She was so sweet and saintly that she loves everybody, no matter what terrible things they do to her.
When Rick’s brother got engaged, he asked Rick to be his best man. Patty became annoyed and resentful at the bride and groom, for 1) taking the family’s attention off of HER, and 2) causing Rick to take time away from catering to her so that he could fulfill his role of best man. Patty had to take more responsibility for fending off the bill collectors and getting off the couch to feed her own children while Rick was preoccupied with things like tuxedo fittings, and his brother’s bachelor party and rehearsal dinner. By the time the wedding day rolled around, Patty was steaming, and her passive-aggression went into overdrive.
Although the bride and groom had not invited any small children to their wedding, Patty conveniently neglected to hire a babysitter, making it necessary for her and Rick to bring their toddlers to the wedding. This caused hard feelings with several of the bride’s relatives, who were upset because their children weren’t allowed to attend. At the ceremony, Patty and Rick’s kids started acting up. They began climbing over the pews and calling out to their Daddy, who was standing at the altar with the groom. Spitefully aware that Rick couldn’t very well interrupt the ceremony and walk down the aisle to discipline the children, Patty smiled vacantly, as if they were just being cute, and then ignored them. The bride and groom were punished for taking attention away from Patty by having their wedding vows rendered all but inaudible over the ruckus that Patty’s children were creating.
By the time the family got to the reception, the kids were cranky and overtired. Patty decided to get her revenge on Rick by making HIM supervise them, even though he had other responsibilities to attend to, while she sat on her lazy rear and never got out of her chair. She let them run wild on the dance floor, getting in the way of the dancers and nearly tripping the waiters. When the bride had her dance with her father, Patty’s four-year old decided to join in. Patty didn’t bat an eye, until Rick’s mother asked him to get his child off the dance floor so the bride could have her special moment with her dad, and the photos could be taken.
When Rick finally stood up and began making his toast to the happy couple, his children began yelling, “Daddy! Daddy! Come here! We want you to come here!” Patty did not get up and remove them from the room. She did nothing to quiet them. She just sat there, staring blankly into space, as if they were somebody else’s kids and not hers. Finally, Rick had to step down from the dais, walk over to his wife’s table, and spend ten minutes telling his kids he just had to make a toast and then he’d be right back. Meanwhile, EVERYBODY WAITED. The bride and groom, the guests, the band, the waiters, the photographer, the videographer. Until Rick was able to quiet down his kids so at least THIS video clip wouldn’t have them screaming in the background.
So Patty used Rick’s brother’s wedding as Payback Day for everybody who had failed to treat her like a queen over the past few months, including Rick. Yep, she sure showed them. Rick’s brother and his wife, and her whole family, have not spoken to them since.
But Rick’s relatives weren’t the only ones that Patty “punished” for not indulging her. She had a history of spiting her own family as well. Fifteen years ago, the “hard-up” Patty and Rick “borrowed” $10,000 from Patty’s brother Joe, for their “starving” kids. Joe and his wife have never seen one dime of that money. While they struggled to raise their own little kids in a tiny house and on a tight budget, they watched as Patty and Rick bought a big waterfront home with a built-in pool, flaunted the huge boat they kept in the water behind their house, purchased several antique cars, and took cruises and ski vacations every year. Yet Patty never felt a pang of guilt, or that she had any obligation to repay her debts to someone who came to her rescue when she needed help. In fact, when Joe saw that she had “gotten on her feet” and started asking her for some of his money back, she stopped talking to him and refused to take any more of his calls.
SISTER NICOLE’S STORY
JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE HEARD IT ALL….
We’ve already discussed freeloading relatives who wangle invitations to holiday dinners and then show up empty-handed, and many of us have had this con pulled on us. But few of us can top Nicole’s Thanksgiving story.
When Nicole and Danny were newlyweds, Nicole was anxious to make a good impression on Danny’s family. So she invited his parents and siblings and their families to her home for Thanksgiving dinner. She worked like a dog and spent a fortune. She did not ask anyone to bring a dish, and no one did, because they were all too cheap, lazy, and ungrateful.
But Danny’s sister Melissa outdid everyone else. For starters, besides coming with her husband and two kids, she brought along two uninvited, unexpected friends, causing Nicole and Danny to scramble to set up a card table and find another tablecloth and extra place settings.
Melissa showed up with six people- surely, you say, she brought at least a cake, if not a tray of lasagna! Nope. In fact, before I tell you what Melissa brought to Nicole’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I have to warn you to sit down and swallow any food you might have in your mouth so you don’t choke on it. Are you ready???? Melissa brought……
A BOX OF ZIPLOCK BAGS, TO TAKE THE LEFTOVERS HOME IN !!!
And that’s exactly what she did. In fact, she proceeded to pick the turkey carcass clean. Nicole did not have one shred of turkey left for the tetrazini she was looking forward to making for herself and Danny the next day. Melissa packed up the salad, olives, cheeses, yams, rolls, chestnuts, and even spooned the left-over stuffing into a bag and zipped it up. She sat at the table for half-an-hour, nonchalantly chatting away as she packed, while nobody batted an eye. Except Nicole, who was stunned speechless.
And so, Nicole’s sister-in-law Melissa wins the prize for Freeloader of the Year. Every freeloader out there should aspire to her level of chutzpah. Most of our freeloaders are amateurs compared to Melissa. By the way, that was the first, and LAST, time she got invited to Nicole and Danny’s house.
THE PITY PLOY OF THE SOCIOPATH
THE WAY OF THE SLUGGARD IS BLOCKED WITH THORNS, BUT THE PATH OF THE UPRIGHT IS A HIGHWAY….Proverbs 15:19 NIV
One way to tell a sociopath is that sooner or later, if necessary to manipulate you into giving him what he wants, he will try a pity ploy. Or he might have an ongoing, perpetual sob story, making it seem like he’s always down on his luck and never gets a break. A perverted twist on this is some statement to the effect that “bad people (or wicked, or sinful) always get away with everything” accompanied by a wistful sigh. The implication being “I’m good, so I always get nothing…”, or “If I wanted to be bad like everybody else, then I’d have a better life like them, too….”
Most narcissists trot out their sob stories just for attention. They’re always poor, sick, in trouble, or have somebody mad at them or picking on them. No matter what anybody else is going through, they’re going through worse. They want you to feel sorry for them, and they thrive on being the center of attention, no matter what it takes to stay center-stage.
Schnorrers, however, tell their tales of woe with another purpose in mind. They want more from you than mere attention. They want favors, invitations, gifts, or money. Freeloaders have absolutely no pride and no shame when it comes to making people feel sorry for them. It might be a perpetual “illness”, or an unending variety of mysterious illnesses. It might be crying poverty, falling on hard times that conveniently last for years and decades. Putting it in perspective, they don’t invent anything that every other normal adult doesn’t go through at one time or another, and manages to handle without schnorring off other people. But THEIR crises are always “overwhelming”, things they just don’t know what to do about, except to shamelessly beg for help.
THE ENTITLEMENT MINDSET OF THE NARCISSIST
FOR IF A MAN THINK HIMSELF TO BE SOMETHING, WHEN HE IS NOTHING, HE DECEIVETH HIMSELF. BUT LET EVERY MAN PROVE HIS OWN WORK, AND THEN SHALL HE HAVE REJOICING IN HIMSELF ALONE, AND NOT IN ANOTHER. FOR EVERY MAN SHALL BEAR HIS OWN BURDEN….Galatians 6: 3-5 KJV
Narcissistic, sociopathic freeloaders think it’s their RIGHT to live high-on-the-hog on YOUR money. They’ll deny you LOANED them money and claim it was a “gift” that they don’t have to pay back. And if you agree that you GAVE it to them, don’t expect a shred of gratitude. Freeloaders always manage to live well, by their own individual standards, without ever having to work and pay for it themselves. They think you OWE it to them to give them money or invite them over time and again. They do not think they ever have to pay you back or reciprocate an invitation, because it’s their due because they are SPECIAL.
It doesn’t occur to them that you might have a limited budget of your own, and not be able to give endlessly. It doesn’t matter to them that there might be other people or charities with legitimate needs who depend on your generosity. They don’t want to hear that you have to divide up your “donation” budget among several needy groups. They believe that every last dime you have for charity has to go to them.
In fact, even if you have to go beyond your “charitable contribution” budget, dip into your own family’s funds, and take food out of your own children’s mouths, they still feel entitled to YOUR money. More than one kind-hearted soul has gone into debt, jeopardized her own future, or been forced to declare bankruptcy after subsidizing or supporting the family bum for most of his life. Whatever you do for the schnorrers, it will never be enough. They will always want more, and they will never feel indebted to you. They don’t owe you anything in return for whatever you do for them, because, if you’re stupid enough to fall for their baloney, then you deserve to be taken.
If you turn down the schnorrer’s request, you are likely to be lambasted as cheap, mean, uncaring, and unloving. There will be no gratitude for all the favors you did for him in the past, only anger at your refusal to accommodate his current request.
If you ever question him, or refuse another handout, expect pouting at the very least, if not a big blow-up and possibly the end of the relationship. After all, if he can’t get anything out of you anymore, then what does he need you for? Time to move on to the next sucker. Recruiting the next soft-touch will be a lot easier if you’re out of the picture, otherwise, you might warn the unsuspecting target about him and what a predatory con-artist he is. So you will be unceremoniously dumped, until he needs you again, just like Sister Carly and Patty’s brother Joe were.
If you simply ignore the schnorrer’s broad hints without coming right out and saying “No”, she will repeat her hints for awhile, and then become passive-aggressive, sulking, pouting, snapping at you, deleting your e-mails without reading them, or not returning your calls. If you ask what’s wrong, she’ll either deny that she’s angry, or go off on you for not “helping” her. Either way, you will pay for your lack of “family loyalty” and sympathy. She will get her message of resentment across to you with blatant emotional blackmail. You have some nerve not giving her what she wants!
****CONTINUED IN PART 3- Click HERE to read 16 Ways To Spot A Con, A Heartwrenching Dilemma-Why Do They Put Us In This Position?, What Does The Bible Say About Giving To The Poor Vs. Supporting A Bum?, And Learning to Let It Go In One Ear And Out The Other.
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