Outside Looking In
The other day I made a trip to Menards near my home in Willmar. As I turned west to enter the store's main entrance, a young man was bundled up like it was -40 below rather than the actual temperature of 40 above. He stood in the brown grassy area next to the road.
On the ground next to him was a five-gallon red plastic gas container, a young German Shepherd dog, and a brown paper bag.
He held one of those homemade cardboard signs written in black crayon that have become so common in this town of late.
Playing the sympathy card to the hilt, the sign read: "I NEED FOOD FOR ME AND MY DOG. I NEED GAS TO GET BACK HOME TO SEE MY KIDS."
Coincidentally, when I left the store after picking up my intended items, the man was carrying the gas can and walking away from his corner with the dog following beside him.
I felt a little sorry for him and thought about giving him a buck or two until I saw him walk to a furniture store located a few hundred yards away from Menards and get into his seemingly brand new forest green SUV, where a young woman was seated in the passenger's seat.
It was easy to see why she didn't want to pick him up where he was standing because people would see the new vehicle.
He started the SUV and drove away, likely happy with the money he and his female partner earned that day for doing nothing more than scamming unsuspecting people out of their hard-earned money.
Just ahead of me along First Street/Highway 71, the vehicle turned east on 19th Avenue and headed toward Walmart. I decided to follow for no particular reason than to see if they were going to pick someone up at the corner next to Walmart where beggars are often seen.
They parked the vehicle at Qdoba across from Walmart. The man and woman got out, but left the dog inside the vehicle. The man carried the gas can and the young woman toted a cardboard sign.
They reached the corner of the Walmart entrance and the woman sat in the grass, while the man stood next to a stop sign and revealed the writing on the cardboard sign. This one read: "WIFE PREGNANT. NEED MONEY FOR GAS AND FOOD."
I didn't see anyone stop to help in the few minutes I was there. Since it was obvious it wasn't gas or food they were after and they were only concerned about how much cash they could scam out of people, I thought it would have been funny to bring them a one-gallon can of gas and tell them I wanted to help them out. They probably wouldn't have known how to react.
Be careful when giving money to beggars. While some may well need the money, the majority of these sign-toters are taking the easy route to the money.
When I was in Minneota last week, I heard the sound of a robin near the Mascot building. It took a little while to spot it, but it was chirping incessantly high atop a tree on a warm sun-splashed day. I took a photo of it to show others, who seemed to be delighted that the orange-breasted birds were coming back.
A few days later, the weather turned colder and snow fell. The robin I saw probably wondered why he returned so soon.
In a story about Bonnie Hanson that appeared in last week's Mascot, the last name of her parents was incorrect. It should have read Albert and Hazel Borson. Our apologies.