When kindness becomes a weakness
Not long ago, I was approached by two students looking for people to participate in their art project. It was a survey where the participant looked at a handiwork and said how much they would be willing to pay for the item.
Honestly, it wasn’t very good. The student suggested RM60, because they were trying to get a certain amount so they could finish up earlier. Sure, not my project.
Then they asked me to pay for it.
What? That was not what they told me. I wasn’t going to pay RM60 for junk. I can help, but only half at most. The student was fine with that. I didn’t have small change with me, so I gave RM 50.
He never gave my change back.
At this point, I felt like I was being robbed. I was being robbed, in broad daylight. But fine, I already started helping, I’ll help until the end (好人做到底). The student gave me chopsticks instead, but what I really wanted was my RM50 back.
Then it was the friend’s turn.
I already gave the other person money, so it wouldn’t feel nice not giving to this person too, who really did most of the effort in roping me in (in hindsight, I could have just filled the survey and told him to get the money from the other guy).
I’m pretty sure it’s a scam. Handmade projects don’t come wrapped in plastic. And you’re not supposed to get money from participants. You’re supposed to compensate your participants for taking the time to do your survey. But knowing the signs is very different from stopping on the spot and running off. And some of these people can get very violent.
It hurts. These kinds of scams only work on people kind and generous enough to take their time and money to help out other people. It’s because of people like this that I don’t give money to the beggars on the street. I already know I’m bad at telling fakes from those who actually need money. I don’t want to inadvertently fund a human trafficking ring or something.
I can still help other people, but this kindness is a weakness. People say it’s a character strength, but kindness is what gets people into trouble when they risk pieces of themselves for other people. It is only a character strength because kind people are kind despite the risks.
Hence, for someone who is willing to embrace this weakness, appropriate protection is needed.
For myself, I’m setting some ground rules: First, no money for strangers. Second, I can stop helping whenever I want.
As far as life lessons go, RM70 is pretty cheap, but it still leaves a bitter memory.