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I’m living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One night a man approached me on my way out of a restaurant in Inman Square. It was around 9:30 pm of a weekday, the streets were starting to get lonely but weren’t deserted, and I was alone. In case this is relevant: I’m a male (burglars and scammers target males and females differently) and a foreigner who speaks with some accent. This man tried to engage in conversation with me, asking if the pizza place I’ve just left was any good. I was caught off guard and answered his entry question and he proceeded to tell me about his friends, his family and stuff people you just met wouldn’t be interested in. Then, I realized the man seemed nervous and fidgeted with his hands. At that moment I sensed something sketchy was happening and started walking, seeking shelter in an open store. No matter I was walking at a fast pace, he followed me by my side. Meanwhile, I keep the conversation going with plain yeses, noes and other evasive answers. I assumed he may have gotten angry if I stopped replying, but wanted to make clear I wasn’t interested in talking.

I was unlucky and couldn’t find any place to hide, so I had to walk with him for more than two streets. Finally, he said “Hey! That’s my car. Do you need a ride?” I politely said “No, thanks anyway” and kept walking (No way I was getting into his car). He got into his car and drove away and I was left like “What the F* just happened?”. I checked my pockets, luckily everything was in there, and made the rest of my way home unscratched. So, my question is, was I going to be subject of crime? Is this any sort of scam scheme, or am simply being paranoid about friendly Americans in the street?

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    I would say if he wanted to rob you it would have happened right away before anyone saw you together. I suspect he was working towards some kind of scam, where the opening gambits are designed to indebt the target in some way, then used as an emotional lever when the pitch is played: for example to be given money - and no crime was committed. – Weather Vane Sep 21 '17 at 12:51
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    Could he have been seeking a romantic interlude? Random kidnapping is not a thing in the US compared to other locals and scammers would hunt in more tourist oriented places. Was he a collegiate type? He could have been on a dare. – Johns-305 Sep 21 '17 at 14:07
  • I'm not convinced this question is really answerable. He could have been trying to scam, rob or kidnap you. He also could have been trying to chat you up or been on a dare, as Johns-305 said. He also could have just been one of those people who don't know what an appropriate level of sharing is, can't tell when somebody isn't interested in talking to them, etc. You may just be confusing a lack of social skills (combined with being very outgoing) with malicious intent. – Anthony Grist Sep 21 '17 at 14:26
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    "Nervous and fidgeted with his hands" could indicate any number of things. He may have been nervous because he was planning to commit some kind of crime. He may also have some kind of mental and/or physical disability or been on drugs. Nervous, fidgety and overly talkative is a not uncommon stereotypical depiction of a drug addict. – Anthony Grist Sep 21 '17 at 14:29
  • @Johns-305 He wasn't the collegiate type. He was in his thirties and looked rather disheveled. – je_b Sep 21 '17 at 16:30
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I doubt anyone can really answer this question to be honest, and I doubt answering it can help you in any way. More valuable seems to be a way to get out of the situation next time. I don't have a great answer to that question but I would like to share an experience I had myself.

A couple of week ago me and my partner were eating in a restaurant and shortly after paying a man started talking to us. He was making comments about the food prices, food and weather and was clearly trying to stall us. I felt a little uncomfortable and urged my partner to leave. At that moment, the man started to tell about how his wife had passed away a couple of months ago and that he now had to do these kinds of things alone as he didn't have many friends.

Turns out the guy was just extremely lonely and sad, had a couple of beers and wanted someone to talk to.

So yes, it could have been a robber or scammer. But it could also just been a little bit of an awkward individual. Maybe a drug addict or a drunk guy, who knows. In any case, I would suggest going back to the restaurant if you don't find a way out. Call for a cab or explain the situation to a staff member and wait it out for a little bit.

  • Turns out the guy was just extremely lonely and sad, had a couple of beers and wanted someone to talk to. It is entirely plausible that there are going to be many such cases but It would still be advisable for a tourist to run – Hanky Panky Sep 21 '17 at 15:30
  • @HankyPanky Which is exactly what I say at the end of my answer. – Summer Sep 21 '17 at 15:31
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    Yep i didn't refute the answer :) – Hanky Panky Sep 21 '17 at 15:33

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