Lying For Help

I was involved in a situation recently where an individual was asking for help.  In most settings where financial assistance is offered there are questions that have to be answered.  In this particular case the individual was vague, “acting” confused (this is key) and not forth coming with answers.   I specifically asked the individual questions that I received very clear answers to.

There’s no need for a long version to the story.  A person asked for help.  Told a story to get help.  Had people jumping around trying to find help (including financial).

And it was discovered the story was untrue.

While those who had been trying to help were left with  a mixture of anger, frustration and irritation.  Some were able to shrug it off better than others.   No matter how we all felt, we all did agree we would rather err on the side of caution and help someone who did not need help than not help someone who did need it.

There are so many people who need help and tell their truths-as difficult or ugly a truth as they may think it is-they tell it.  Because they want or need help.  For themselves.  Or their children.  Or their spouse.  Or for someone.  I’ve seen people come in driving BMW’s asking for food.  Because their situations changed, tragedy struck, something happened – and they need help.  I’ve seen people who have worked their entire lives, hard work, paid their bills, took care of themselves, but they just didn’t manage money well.  Or they didn’t make much money while they worked very hard.  And now they can’t work hard.  I’ve seen people unable to work hard, or work at all.  I can’t begin to tell you the stories I’ve seen and heard.

I was standing there after this incident trying to balance frustration and anger and disbelief and my friend said….”we don’t know their story”.

No, we don’t know their story.  Absolutely.  But that was not because we weren’t willing to listen or help.

No matter who shows up we don’t send hungry people away.  We listen to people’s stories.  We understand tragedy strikes.  Circumstances change.  Jobs are lost.  Energies are depleted.  Opportunities are lost.  People need help.

In processing this for myself I can’t help but try to figure out that person’s need to lie.  And it comes down to this, if the person lied but still needed help I could understand that.  For whatever reason if they were too embarrassed to just speak the truth, but they still needed actual help, I get that.   But if they lied because they live a life of frauding others to exist then I’m not as forgiving.  I don’t particularly care for how the world is painted some times.  The world I see on a daily basis is a very generous and giving place.  My world is made up of individuals in both their personal and work based lives who do as much as they can to help those who need a hand up, and yes, on occasion, a hand out.  They care.   To see them taken advantage of is frustrating.

Maybe I’m making too much out of it.

But it bothered me.

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53 thoughts on “Lying For Help

  1. Understandable. It would frustrate me too.

  2. Victo Dolore says:

    I don’t know if it helps, but I have experienced this, too. For a bit, I was reluctant to help anyone, not wanting to be taken advantage of again. What I eventually came to was that it was not my job to filter out who was worthy or not. My only job, really, is to be available and willing to help when needed, trusting fate or a higher power to place the right people in my path. I really don’t know their story but their paths cross mine for a reason.

    • It does help. In some situations “we” are the ones who do have to filter out who is telling the truth or not. In other situations, when I give from my own pocket, I feel less pressure to know the ‘truth’ and like you want to trust the fate/higher power who place a need in my path. But I do feel a pressure when I’m part of the responsibility of knowing answers to help determine level of need. It’s not always easy.

  3. Elisa says:

    I think that the ‘rules’ and tv and marketing images of what is right and what is good, what is enough–and then add in all of the political messages, that under all came from the prior shapings, are false. Thus we all have a frame and others cannot know our frame and so we have conflict. What happens when one confronts the individual frame combined with the societal behaviorally modified rules frame over the top of it, our insides can get into a twist over right and wrong, legally, morally, and ethically. I find this a particularly sour pickle to keep in the mouth to figure out when an individual knows all of the what ifs and life on life’s terms and about a lack of control over others, but is forced to make them and to do them anyway by other rules. It is impossible to do so.

    • Elisa says:

      oh, lol
      feel free to spank me when in the next half hour I have to get the adult children up and medicate them so that society is ‘safe’ and then try to control and modify their behavior all day, as they cannot do it themselves, so that I look like I am controlling my children and haven’t failed parenting 😀
      twist twist wring twist 😛

  4. Yes, of course, dishonesty is always bothersome, especially when it is so blatant like that. It seems to me that this person did it out of nothing but selfishness too, they were not backed into a corner and saw a lie as the only way out, or anything like that. Anyway, the fact that there were people who were willing to help no matter what is a small consolation that speaks well of humanity.

  5. daveb42 says:

    I think this is why we feel strongly mixed emotions when confronted by someone on a busy corner holding a bit of cardboard—are we going to be feeding them or fueling their alcohol or drug problem. My wife gives these folks granola bars. Sometimes the signer is eating before the light has changed. Sometimes not.

    On a larger scale, the anger at being lied to is what drives public welfare tests to ensure that every recipient is working (whether they can or not), and provides the excuse to not help anyone because a few “welfare queens” lied about their need. A few are going to scam us because that’s what they do. Many more genuinely need help. Thank you for pressing on.

    • I’ve been asked point blank for money for alcohol or cigarettes. Which, to be honest, doesn’t bother me near as much as the lying. I would never want to see anyone go hungry. For that matter, no matter why someone is suffering, I have a difficult time seeing it. But those who are capable of actively frauding, and putting work in to it, I don’t understand why they can’t legitimately work and earn money. It doesn’t make sense to me.

      Thank you DaveB42

  6. I can understand…it would have bothered me as well.

    • Thanks Millie. Even as I try very hard to be “better” I find myself reacting with frustration and anger sometimes. And when I do, I feel like I’m not heading in the right direction. Though, I guess it’s a matter of not living in those sentiments that matter.

  7. markbialczak says:

    It is the reason behind the lie and the true need for help that are at the core, as you say, Colleen, in this instance. What a tough work situation you have. I’d hate to be judge and jury too often on life-altering cases like this.

  8. Robin says:

    It would have bothered me, too. It’s hard not to judge, especially lies. Hard not to know if it was a lie for the sake of fraud or a lie for the sake of pride or fear.

  9. Thomas says:

    I’m sorry this happened to you, Colleen. I agree that it’s better to err on the side of caution and strive to supply some sort of help, but maybe hold back a little until you obtain the full story. I suppose that this situation exemplifies the complexity that comes with working with people. Hope you feel better soon.

    • Thank you Thomas. Sometimes the ‘help’ can be extended with caution and after more information is obtained. Fortunately in this case I think there was no actual ‘damage’ done. But none the less, it is frustrating to be running all over trying to obtain information and help to be smacked in the face with bold face lies. But …. it is part of the process. We help. And sometimes people will take advantage of that.

  10. I used to work at a homeless shelter. In the winter we gave out warm clothing. Sometimes it was brand new. Some folks sold the coats on the streets and this angered many. But I wondered if I would not do the same if I lived on the streets. I could buy a 2nd hand one cheaper and maybe spend the night in a hotel instead of a shelter, especially if my child was homeless with me. ❤
    Diana xo

    • I do understand people doing what they have to do get by. Survival is definitely something that will make us do things we may not have to do when things are ‘good’. Good points Diana.

  11. I believe there is a reason why the adage, Don’t judge a person until you have walked in their shoes, is both popular and fair. We often don’t know their stories. Illness and bad juju befall many, unexpectedly. I, too, have known and experienced your frustration. For me, it’s simply about giving when I sense genuine need and believe I can help, often unconditionally. Thought-provoking, as always, Colleen.

    • I think part of my problem with all of this Eric is the different places I am in. If I am giving out of my own pocket I feel different. I feel “freer” to give for giving’s sake. I hope the need is genuine and they aren’t taking me for a sap, but if they are, that’s on them. But in the work environment I feel a responsibility and obligation to not be taken advantage of because it is not “my” money being taken (well maybe technically some of it is) advantage of. But when we are trying to help as many as possible with limited funds/resources and it is not accounted for by being given to those in true need….I feel a bit of pressure. (I hope all of that made sense??)

  12. reocochran says:

    I imagine frustration and some anger at this untruthful situation. Especially since you and your coworkers and community helpers all were scrambling to provide for these people. I like how you explained that your group help others, all the time, no matter what. I have often wondered how many times people have lied when asking for help, too.

    On the other side of the coin, I have also been saddened when help was offered, (in the past I have seen this happen), and it was turned down because of ‘pride’ or ‘concern about how they would be viewed.’

    I am glad some are able to have shrugged off the lying, and hope that your loving viewpoint of people will continue to be your focus and compass to keep moving ahead, Colleen. You are such a blessing and God-send to those who truly need help! xo

  13. I’d be more than frustrated.

  14. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I get where you are coming from. I would be pretty upset too. :/

  15. inmycorner says:

    Yup. I get it. And when teaching, my colleagues and I all know there is a chance we will be taken advantage of – and act anyway. You are right – people need help. And whether they lye about it or not – it really doesn’t matter. Maybe they just need help – they just don’t know what kind they need. So – I know I am used. I walk into it. ANd sometimes it pays off- other times it does not.

  16. dogear6 says:

    For some, lying and being deceitful is a way of life. If someone like you and I are stupid enough to believe it, that’s tough for us. They don’t see that they’re taking away from others who are legitimately in need; they see it as gaming a system that they are entitled to suck dry. Not that I have any family members who have taught me that lesson over and over again.


  17. Gibber says:

    The scammers really ruin it for those who truly do need it. Sorry that happened.

  18. I can certainly understand your anger and frustration. Sometimes people are so accustomed to lying to themselves that it automatically translates to deception. It is tremendously difficult to use wise discernment when people are skilled at misleading! 😦

    • Valid point there Debra! I tend to want to take people at face value. Which has it’s pros and cons. This situation it’s self was pretty powerfully misleading from the start because it rang untrue from the minute I became involved. And I believe this was a case of “people skilled at misleading”. 😦

  19. niaaeryn says:

    That is a frustrating position. Why lie? Maybe they have some kind of mental disorder that prompts them to lie? Like a compulsive liar? I do not get it. And it is terrible as then they make it more difficult for those who are in neex, and drain those who help emotionally and financially…but it does remind me of I think Franklin or Jefferson who said something to the effect, “better to free 100 guilty men than imprison one innocent man.”
    All the same may the next week be a better one, with hot chocolate. 🙂

  20. April says:

    I would be frustrated too. What would bother me the most is that time and resources were used to help someone who was deceitful, while another went without.

  21. Heartafire says:

    It is disheartening when someone lies to receive “help” that is not really necessary. That is stooping to a low level. Recently I was (this happens to me a lot) approached by a woman, she had 3 kids in the car, I was loading my groceries in my trunk. She said she needed money to get to a homeless center in Orlando. I have heard this tale before from a kid who attends a private college in Deland, I gave her a few bucks, I was frowned on by several onlookers that had already passed her by. I could not be responsible for what she did with the money, I hope it was to help herself and kids as she stated, it may have been for booze or drugs, but I can’t take that judgment on myself, so my conscience is clear and I will always offer a handout if I can. Were I to find out she definitely put me in a position of enabling her in an addiction I would be angry and hurt, mainly due to the little faces staring at me through her the windows of her dilapidated car. Very fine writing , Chatter, made me think!

    • I know many who feel like you do Heart. We/they give to help, hoping to make a difference, even if only for that moment. What the person in need does with the gift is up to them and we are not in control of what they do with that gift.

      And thank you. 🙂

  22. Jim McKeever says:

    There will always be some people who disappoint us by lying, for whatever reason. Your attitude is admirable — I would be far more cynical after a mile or two in your shoes. If the lie was out of embarrassment, addiction or a similar reason that wasn’t criminal, then I can embrace forgiveness to a point. Out-and-out fraud or crime is something else, of course.

    • I have my cynical moments. But usually once I expel them with the hot air I let build up….I’m back to being okay. 😉

      It is the out and out fraud/crime that gets to me. And got to me.

  23. tric says:

    There will always be the chancers. But the important thing is to remember those who need what you supply and not to become cynical, it lessens those good people..

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