A First job, and a Scam!
After being demobbed from the Royal Air Force I spent a week at home in Moreton, Wirral, then hitchhiked down to London and spent about a week searching for a job and sleeping rough, mostly under collapsed deck-chairs in St James' Park. And then, when the Underground opened, putting my head down on the Circle Line for a hour or so. And although it's hard to believe, I often managed to sleep right through the rush hour! I've no idea what the other passengers thought about it - but no one ever intentionally woke me up.
Eventually I found a job in a shoe shop in Oxford Street, and managed to find a bedsit in Notting Hill.
All I had to do in the shoe shop was help people choose and buy footwear - an easy but not very exciting job. The management put me in the men's department downstairs.
One day a man with an Irish accent came downstairs and asked "Are you Mike?" I said I was.
"Oh, I'm very glad I found you!"
He saw that I was mystified and said "I can see that you are puzzled. but here's the reason I wanted to meet you. Do you know somebody abroad who is very close to you?"
"Well, I have a brother in Toronto, Canada ..."
"Thank goodness! Right first time!" he exclaimed, "and what's his name?"
"David" I replied.
"Wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Extremely glad I have finally found you! I am a friend of David in Toronto and he gave me a present to bring you!"
"Really?" I replied, beginning to smell a rat.
"Yes! He sent you a bottle of single malt whisky, and 400 cigarettes."
"Have you got them with you?" I asked - by now 100% sure that this was a con (a scam). The reasons being that my brother and I have never offered each other gifts, and moreover, we are both fervent anti-smokers! Plus, no one except the my employers knew I worked here.
"Yes, I've got them in the cab outside. Didn't bring them in as I wasn't sure I'd find you. I'll go and get them. Oh, by the way, I've just arrived from Canada and only have dollars and a few £50 notes. Can you give me £10 and I'll pay off the taxi and you can change a £50 note from the till when I bring the presents down."
"Hold on!" I exclaimed, "it would be easier if you give me a £50 note and I'll change it for you right away."
"OK. Well, don't worry anymore. I'll sort it out with the cabbie!"
And with that parting remark he scampered upstairs. realising that he'd been rumbled.
I learnt later that before coming downstairs he had gone to the one of the salesmen upstairs and asked: "Is one of your downstairs staff called "John? I have to meet him."
The salesman had replied "John? No ... at this moment there's only Mike downstairs."
So then he had come down and asked if my name was Mike.
I'm left wondering how many times he has pulled this scam, if it's often successful, and if he's made much profit?