** This article is based on nonfiction by actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
Small towns are noted for local businesses that aren’t chain businesses. One morning, as I sat at my desk, an office manager of a small town business, a man walked into the office and told me a strange story about how he could have been an ax murderer in the park, but he wasn’t.
To say this made me nervous would be an understatement; I managed to remain calm, but on the inside, I was a wreck. I answered the man's questions about our local town and told him I was just heading to the coffee shop. He walked with me to the coffee shop, where I ordered my usual and chatted with the coffee master.
Finally, the man left the coffee shop, and I told the coffee master my concerns. Since my office was just across from the coffee shop, the coffee master and I agreed if the man came back, I’d switch on our overhead light (which I could do from my desk). He would then call for help and assist me.
Several days went by before the man returned to my office. By this time, I’d rearranged my desk to a safer position and managed to hide some scissors in a few locations around the office should I need a quick weapon. I’d also notified the businesses on either side of my friends and me on the police force about this strange encounter.
At about 10:00 am, several days later, the man again entered my office. He told me that he had come to our small town to pick up his new fiance’ who was from Russia. I asked him where he was picking her up, and he told me that she was coming in on a commercial flight from Russia. I explained to him that we had a very small airport and that no commercial planes could land there. He was insistent that he needed directions to the airport, and she would be on a plane that day. I gave him the directions, and he left.
Later we would find out that he’d been ‘stood up' and that the woman never arrived. No one was surprised; large planes don’t land in our small town, and the airports too small. He’d been scammed out of a large sum of money for a plane ticket.
That afternoon I had a meeting with several of the other business owners in town. One of the business owners was a lady that owned one of the 3 motels in the town. She mentioned a strange man that had been staying there and how he had said he was waiting for his fiance’.
I told her that I was sure it was the same man that had been in my office, and he was kind of scary. As we compared notes, we found that he had been in several other businesses, and all business owners had the same thoughts.
About a week later, my friend at the motel called and said that she had kicked the man out; he hadn’t paid her any money and told her that his funds were tied up across the border and he couldn’t access them until he returned home. Since the border was about an hour away, he told her he would bring her back the money the following week after he had crossed the border and accessed his money.
As soon as I hung up the phone with her, the man walked into my office. He asked me if a bus service went to the border. I told him the local bus could get him about half an hour from the border. He said that would work and asked if I had bus money for him. I didn’t, but I sent him to my police officer friend to try his hard luck story there.
Finally, the man boarded the bus with the money that the police officer gave him and left our small town. All in all, he owed the motel over $300 and the police department the bus fare. My friend at the motel did try to locate his business across the border, and it did exist, but no one answered the phone when she called. I’m glad for the safety net we had in place in our small town. My friend at the motel felt nervous around this man as well.
Of course, my friend at the motel never heard back from the man, and she had to write off the over $300 as a loss. The police department had done some research and determined that the man was just another man that had been scammed. His business had been shut down for not paying his bills. I’m grateful for a town that helps keep watch over one another. Small towns are often the target of scams and other illegal activities because scammers think that small towns won’t have as many safety nets in place. What would you have done if it were you?