Dearest Rachel –
When I first joined this dating app, Jeff (who’d met his wife on one a year or two back) warned me that I should prepare myself to face a hundred rejections or so before finding anybody. Surprisingly, that hasn’t happened thus far. But what has happened has pushed me very nearly to the end of my patience.
I have never gone so far as to explain my exact situation, but I suppose that certain parts of my profile allow people to put two and two together. They see my age and my status as ‘retired,’ and conclude that I am in a certain financial position, and determine that I can be ‘milked.’ With that being said…
You may have noticed that I have begun once again to mention Naruko several times in the past couple of weeks. I had thought she had gotten fed up with the fact that I wasn’t coming across with cash for her (despite having offered to buy her airline tickets to get home), and decided to ‘ghost’ me, as the saying goes. I was surprised when she contacted me while I was languishing in Basel, and even more so that her situation had apparently not changed. Of course, given that, it should’ve come as no surprise that she was back to asking me to lend her the money to get home.
Now, I forget when specifically it was, but it was close to this time last year, when your cousin was hoping to find a home in downstate Illinois, somewhere closer to your dad’s ancestral home in Alton than where you grew up in Macomb, but something along those lines. She needed a down payment in order to secure her claim to a place she was looking at, and you suggested (and I agreed, since in my mind, it was ‘your’ money, despite your insistence to the contrary that it was ‘ours’) that we offer it to her. Both of us accepted the fact that this was a gift rather than a loan – she’d already borrowed a sizable sum from us to cover a theft loss she’d suffered, promising to pay it back, but I’ve concluded that she might be why your folks were so amazed at our consistency in repaying the mortgage they set us up with back in the day.
But you see, it’s one thing to make loans and to give gifts like this to family. There’s a certain responsibility to take care of others that we know and love when we can. That sort of obligation doesn’t apply to a random alleged girl I’ve met on the Internet. Admittedly, I’m pretty sure I could sustain whatever loss I might incur because of her were I to send anything, but that’s almost beside the point at this juncture. The story seems less and less credible as time goes on, as she continues apparently to be stuck in Cambodia after two months now, left utterly high and dry by the charity that brought her there to work in a medical facility. That just doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing such a literally international organization like Doctors Without Borders would do to a volunteer. And yet, whenever I bring this part of the story up, she asked me not to get Doctors Without Borders involved in the matter. That strikes me as odd, and it raises a red flag I’ll address a little further in.
Over time, the texts she’s been sending have gotten more and more insistent, even as I’ve been pushing back on the aspects of it that weren’t making sense to me. She would say things like ‘as Christians if we can help each other then I think we should just do what we can,’ which I can’t exactly argue with, but we’re also called upon to be as ‘wise as serpents’ even as we are to be as ‘innocent as doves.’ Innocent does not mean gullible.
She’s also started to get offended at my pushback; “Needing you to help me is a scam? I have no reason to lie to you. All I need is a helping hand, we all do need some at some point… you happened to be the only person I can ask right now but over time I have realised that helping me isn’t a priority for you.”
As far as guilt trips go, I am forced to admit that she’s good at this. She’s stayed in character and stuck to her story, unlike so many others. Indeed, just yesterday, another profile struck up a conversation with me. I’ll call her Calliope, as that was most of her handle (although she introduced herself in the chat as Jamie, somewhat to my surprise, as I would consider ‘Calliope’ to be a perfectly lovely name, even if it does conjure up images of a circus organ – it is, after all, one of the names of the nine muses of Greek mythology). After greeting me, claiming that she had been on the website for just a couple of days, she asked me how long I have been out there, and what my experiences were. I proceeded to tell her the unvarnished truth, complete with the fact that I had actually sent her and her profile a smile back in late September. She responded by claiming she’s had the profile out there all this time after all, but she hadn’t been looking in earnest until just this past week. Fair enough, and I can deal with that. But by the evening, the profile had disappeared, along with the conversation, which is why I feel free to use her actual handle and name in my story, as she’s never going to come up again.
But Naruko has been different in that everything has been consistent almost from the start; actually, a day or two after starting to chat with her, as I suggested a restaurant to meet at, and she countered by telling me she was on assignment, and… well, I’ve told you the rest of that story.
It’s gotten to the point that I was starting to actually question whether it really was a scam or not. Could she actually be trapped over there, and in need of assistance? Maybe the organization needed to be notified of her situation in order to get her out? Would it be considered stalking to contact them and confirm whether she really was working for them?
That last question has since been addressed, however. When I went to the website of the organization, I learned that they do not (or more to the point, cannot) confirm whether a person is working for them – for just such security reasons. So at least I can’t ‘stalk’ her by asking for that kind of information. But their site continues by addressing the fact that this sort of thing that I’m dealing with is a common enough occurrence that they have to address the situation with a separate page on their website:
So that’s that. All the wheedling in the world won’t work with me. Go ahead, Naruko, tell me that I don’t care enough about you to make helping you a priority. I wish I didn’t have to petrify my heart like this, but I see no way that you can prove to me that your situation is genuine.
It actually hurts to have to admit this, because I wished so hard that she would be real. At least I can take consolation in the fact that I was neither overly paranoid, nor gullible enough to be taken in. It’s a fine and terrible line to have to walk, but there I am.
So I guess that’s the end of it. One more blind alley. Now, I have to start again.
Wish me luck, honey. I’m going to need it.