I have read stories about individuals swindling money out of organizations, businesses, or even charities. That does indeed pop my cork. Today I came across a news story on the topic that not only popped my cork, but completely disintegrated it.
The October 31, 2013 edition of the Milwaukee JournalSentinel ran an article on a Cudahy woman who pilfered more than $50,000 (yep, you read that right – $50,000) from her neighbors. Business scam? Nope. Investments gone wrong? Nope. Bogus charity? Not even.
No, what this woman did, as far as I’m concerned, is unthinkable. She lied. Lying is bad enough, but read what she lied about. She lied to her neighbors, telling them that her husband suffered from throat cancer and she was unable to pay for his medications and treatments. Okay, that’s bad, but get this: She lied to her neighbors about her daughter dying out-of-state in a motorcycle accident and not having enough money to bring the body back for burial! On top of all that, she lied to her neighbors about being evicted because she was behind on mortgage. Well, that one is partially true; she and her husband were behind in their mortgage. Small consolation.
Look, I have had close friends and family members struggle with cancer. It is a tragic, scary thing to go through. Don’t mess with me by lying about having cancer in your own family!
And a dead child? Holy…! You’re kidding me, right? I’ve lost a child to miscarriage. It ain’t no joke. It hurts like…crazy. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to lose a child who’s been with you for an extended time. That aside, what about this woman’s daughter? How might she feel about her mother’s deception? “Oh, honey, by the way. I told the neighbors you were dead so I could cheat them out of several thousand dollars. Just stay out of sight for a while so they don’t figure it out, okay?” Good grief.
It gets cork-popping-er. She used her 12-year-old son to help in her criminal activity by having him deliver notes and make calls to neighbors for her. Poor kid.
I’m incredulous that the woman’s husband and resurrected daughter (she later showed up – alive – around the house) were totally oblivious to the whole thing.
I’m sure I’ll get some hand-slapping comments and emails from folks for judging this woman without knowing her circumstances. True, I don’t know her situation. Perhaps she’s emotionally or mentally ill. Perhaps the husband has more to do with it than he’s let on. Perhaps…perhaps…perhaps…
What’s really at the root of my disintegrated cork is that we are partly responsible for this woman’s actions. How did we, as a society, as a people, come to this point? How did our values get so screwed up that neighbors deceive neighbors in such a bold and twisted way? Or that they deceive each other at all?
I’m sorry for this woman, and I’m praying for her (honest). She’s got a mess on her hands. I’m sorry for the rest of us, too. Every incident like this puts a ding in the moral character of society. It breeds mistrust, and cold-heartedness. Most of us will think twice from now on about helping a neighbor in need. And that really burns me.