Will Scam for Food

Last Sunday, we were in our spots, my Beau and I, surfing the net, when the doorbell rang. I would have answered, but I was in my housecoat and it was early afternoon, so my Beau, who is inclined to ignore unsolicited communication, was urged to “see who it is”.

I’m too curious by half and will even answer cell calls that I’m almost 100% sure are from Rogers, which is having a hard time accepting that we broke up. It  keeps trying to lure me back with $25 gift certificates and rates off its overpriced (?) dismal (!) services. Alas, I am so distrusting of Rogers now, after it cheated on me (no need for details, you know the drill, I’m sure, dear Sooey Says reader(s)), that I won’t accept anything less than 100% free cable.

Oh, and why don’t I have caller i.d.? Because even when I did, I still answered every call – on account of I’m TOO CURIOUS BY HALF!

Before I got my Beau to do the honours, however, I peeked through the clear glass lines in our frosted door design (inherited, fussy, and will never change because we don’t renovate, we adapt) and ascertained that there was a middle-aged woman standing on the other side of it holding a rake. This is a necessary thing to do because on those occasions when said person on the other side of the door has been from one of those “energy” “companies”, my Beau can lose his temper, which makes me nervous because I figure it only eggs them on to fraudulently sign you up for its after dark kneecapping special.

Warning to “energy” “company” fraudsters: Stay away from houses with frosted glass designs on their doors.

And this is off topic, but I realized the other day that the Mike Harris legacy is death, fraud, and his Little Shits (Franks passim) moving on to mooch off the public purse at the next level of government.

As he listened to the communication from the lady holding the rake, I eavesdropped from behind the wall that doesn’t quite stretch far enough so that when you’re sitting watching Netflix (1/4 the price of basic cable, if you’re curious and a little antennae thingie will get you TVO, CTV and, I hope, CBC – cripes, we’d better get CBC – we’re paying for it, anyway – I’ll let you know after my Beau exercises his manliness and sets us up) the hall light shines in your eyes and you have to get up and dim the switch (please stop renovating perfectly adequate houses, previous owners).

“Hi, I’m so sorry for bothering you on a Sunday, but I wonder if I could rake your lawn? I’m going door-to-door offering my services to raise $20 so I can feed my kids. I have 5. The thing is, I start a job tomorrow, but I’m completely out of cash today. My partner died and I was a homemaker and everything is tied up for a while, and -”

Which was when I came out from behind the wall, pushed past my Beau, and shoved $20 into her hand.

And before you think I’m better than I am, I had $30 in my purse. Also, I was picturing a grieving widow raking our postage stamp lawn for food money for her starving children while we sat in our spots (dining room table) surfing the net, watching videos, etc.

I mean, we’re human beings, not Conservatives, ferchrissakes.

But as we recounted the story at a pub night out, it was suggested that it may have been a scam. To which I have to say, touche. Because if that was a scam, she earned that $20, in a way that those deregulated “energy” “companies” could not have done because they don’t just go away after you give them money (DO NOT GIVE THEM MONEY!), they tie you into a nightmare of fraud and corruption.

Thank you, Mike Harris, for making us realize our lives are so much worse than we thought. No, really, without you we never would have known that business can be done in such a fraudulent and corrupt way in Ontario. I believe businesses can now withstand expensive class action suits that cost EVERYBODY, too. Nice work if you can get it, I guess, and get the right mix of politicians in power and – voila! – you can.

Anyway, I don’t believe for a second that this was a scam, because even if she wasn’t a grieving widow with 5 children to feed, she had a rake and was willing to rake our leaves for a few bucks and then go on to the next house and do it, too.

(Except that our neighbour would have grabbed the rake and done it for her while she collected the money and then when she tried to give him half waved her off with, “no, no, no, don’t even try to reimburse me for my labour because it’s NOT labour, it’s exercise – I want to rake leaves”.)

Also, whenever he’s outside he’s smoking, so I think he and the missus may be cutting down on smoking by only smoking outside (they’re French).

But as I learned at pub night, apparently the man downtown, who is nicely dressed and clean cut, and who asked us for a couple of bucks because he lost his wallet, was in Ottawa doing business for the day, and needs to get home to Montreal – is a scammer. Except that I’d say he’s more of a performance artist and is absolutely earning that couple of bucks per 100th passerby. And a standing ovation (it’s Ottawa, after all). He’s really good. I totally believed him, in the way that I never believe an “energy” “company” “representative” at the door.

That’s because without proper regulation, and we no longer have it in this province, let alone in this country, business is coasting on the reputation it had when we didn’t know how illegitimate a lot of it is. But now we do, or we should – I do, anyway, and if I do, you should, because I really wanted to believe in our private sector, having worked in our public one.

Finally. After years of believing politicians were doing what we pay them to do – regulating – I realize they’ve been doing what we don’t pay them to do – deregulating.

Rogers and I had a contract, I thought, but during the contract, it raised its prices. At least 3 times, too. Then, when I canceled part of our contract once it was up, spending a lot of time giving myself a brain tumour and running up a cell phone bill (which never quite adds up, but since that company is less offensive than most, I’m giving it a pass – ’til I give up having a phone at all), it not only denied that I had done so, but dropped two calls when I was in the middle of sorting it out. I can only thank my lucky charms that I never agreed to direct withdrawal or I’d be dead now out of frustration and rage.

Don’t worry, frustration and rage at business practices will not actually kill you, unless they will, in which case we should probably get our class action suit going now so our grandchildren can benefit from it under their Chinese overlords.

Direct Energy, from whom we inherited a water heater when we bought our house, last year sent out a letter threatening all its “customers” with negative option billing (i.e. if you don’t call this number, which you just know is a scam to put you on record as ordering services you didn’t, you’ll automatically be under contract with Direct Energy and/or have to pay some crazy inflated price for the rusty old rental that’s leaking all over your basement). My brother’s a judge – a judge, ferchrissakes – and had to wrangle with Direct Energy to come pick up its crappy old water heater so he could put in one of those super duper tankless water heaters – and he lost. So, how the hell are confused old ladies (grr, and no, I don’t mean me – I am not confused!) going to get out from under Direct Energy without having to sell their homes altogether and move into one of those seniors residences that increase the rent on her fixed income by the maximum allowable amount every year no matter how many services they’ve cut back on in the preceding months.

Robocall companies that facilitate election fraud, pipeline companies that know it’s cheaper for the damn thing to blow up than it is to be behind schedule, construction companies that give the reinforced part of the concrete equation to corrupt politicians, cable companies (too effed up to go into in one post), banks (discovered a $20 random service fee the other day – guess what – terms of contract changed again except that I wasn’t aware of it – also, sudden threatening letter from other bank re home insurance which we have with another company that if we don’t supply documentation WITHIN 60 DAYS it’s negative contract time!), parking lots and parking lot authorities that issue phony tickets, Greyhound that sells tickets and then neglects to supply a bus…

I could go on, you could go on, we all could go on. Big business is more scam than business in this country. It’s not opinion, it’s fact. And while we used to be able to count on our government to look out for us, we no longer can. And that’s directly because of the politicians we have been electing to power who have been running governments like businesses instead of like governments. Governments no longer work for you, the citizen and taxpayer, governments work for business charlatans to further deregulate the already fraudulent and corrupt marketplace. More fraud and corruption, less public service.

And that, dear Sooey Says reader(s), is how I came to have a grieving widow and mother of 5 at my door last Sunday offering to rake my lawn in exchange for money for food. Politicians not doing THEIR jobs.

And they, dear Sooey Says reader(s) are the REAL scammers.


  1. Aw, thanks. True stories are the best, I think.

  2. Excellent.

    I saw this when I was waiting to get my hair cut and thought of you:


  3. I guess it does come from moms. My mom rants, too.