I had just logged into Facebook to check out Robert's Scrabble move, which he usually makes in the morning before he leaves to be at work for 7:00, and a chat window opened up from my friend Irene's son Andrew.
"How are you, John?"
"Doing well, Andrew, thanks. How about you?"
"I'm not doing so well, man. I'm in London and I got mugged at gunpoint last night. They stole my cell phone and all my money, and I have a little situation of being able to pay the hotel and a cab to get to the airport. My flight's in three hours."
"How can I help you, Andrew?" I asked.
"Do you think you could wire me $780? I'll pay you as soon as I get back home."
At this point, I thought, "I should ask him to tell me something that only he and I would both know, just because of all the scams you hear about these days," but then didn't, because he sounded so distraught and he was conversing through his own Facebook account after all.
Long story short, I ended up opening an account on westernunion.com, but when I put in the "wiring to" location that "he" had given me, the website didn't recognize it. I then called Western Union to do it over the phone, and before I gave the amount I wanted to wire, the lady (who sounded like she was in India) said, "I'm sorry, sir. We cannot verify your identity, so we cannot do this transaction over the phone."
She told me the nearest place I could do it in person, but before I left to try that, Andrew sent me an e-mail from his Gmail account saying he had just logged into his Facebook account and saw me having a conversation with "him," but that his account had evidently been hacked and I was conversing with the hacker!
"Do not wire money," he said. "I'm not in London and I haven't been mugged!" Whomever was in his account was also trying the same thing (at the same time) with one of his cousins.
Thank god neither the online nor the phone transaction was able to complete. A wake up call for me—even as Internet-savvy and scam-aware as I am! You just don't expect it to happen through a chat with someone you know who might very well be in the situation described and whom you'd like to help.
Next time I would definitely ask that question I thought to ask but didn't, and I'd do it way up front in the conversation. Disconcerting shit.
Early afternoon, I headed over to FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos-FedEx, formerly formerly Kinkos) where I had two Manbites Dog parking posters laminated for about $10 a piece. They look great. Now to get them to MBD before Jane Eyre starts next week.
From there I went to the gym, where I did 225 (15 sets of 15 reps) ab crunches, which I haven't done for a while and will definitely feel tomorrow. I followed that up with 40 minutes on the treadmill in the "Endurance Training" range, burning off 300 calories, during which I listened to a fascinating interview of Andre Agassi by Terry Gross in a podcast episode of Fresh Air.
I teared up at least four times during this interview and re-fell in love with Andre. When I was still married and therefore in the closet, I absolutely (secretly, of course) lusted after that guy (particularly when they showed shots of him like the one below), as my in-laws were big tennis fans and I played (and watched professional tennis) a lot while I was married.
He has written his memoir, which is described on Barnes & Noble as "...a beautiful, haunting autobiography." It's called Open: An Autobiography, and it's definitely going on my must-read list.
You can listen to Terry's interview with him here by clicking on the "Listen to the Story" button. (It's close to a 40-minute investment, but as I said, personally, I found it fascinating to see "the places he's been," both emotionally and physically in his life.)
I had a "minutes kind of afternoon" knocking out the (long overdue) minutes of the Student E-mail Initiative meeting of November 19 (for work), and then the minutes from our Manbites Dog Theater Board of Directors meeting of November 16, also way overdue.
I finished a fun game of online Scrabble (which ended in a very close score) with Robert, and we started another one toward the end of the evening.
I met Joe at Flex at 10:30, where it was surprisingly festive tonight considering the "theme" was "The Prom After Party." The local bear community sponsored a "prom" for all those gay guys who were either forced to or chose to go to their high school proms with a girl to do what was expected or to stay undercover.
I did go to the prom my junior year in high school, but instead of my senior class prom, I went to the state bowling tournament. Things that make you go, "Hmmmm."
Joe and I stopped at IHOP on the way home, where I had a combo of eggs, hash browns, and pancakes. I'll tell you what, you couldn't pay me enough to work in a place like that, specifically the overnight shift in a place like that. I can imagine little more annoying than a constant flow of drunks when you're not.