Many people in Baltimore make a living, as it were, by going up to people (mostly gullible college students) and telling some story about how their car got stolen, could they get a little money so they could get the bus, they would be happy to write a check, etc, etc.

One well-known purveyor of stories like this is known by the name Ohio Bob (sometimes also called Ohio Joe). In my 4+ years in Charm City, I have run into him about 5 times.

His story/schtick starts like this:

"Hey, how are you?"

If you make any response at all, or even just look at him, he continues (for a long time, not giving you any chance to say anything):

"Nobody around here will talk to you, it's scary. Me, I just moved out here from Ohio (ed: Columbus, I think he says), and it's weird. I tried to ask this couple for directions and they wouldn't even talk to me. I just got out of the Marines, bought myself a (some kind of old car, I forget), I always wanted one and now I have it. But... it broke down at (some address maybe 10 blocks from my house), and that neigboorhood is pretty bad, so I called the cops to see if they would help, right? But I didn't know it was 311 for non-emergencies, they told me not to call 911 unless I was being shot or stabbed. So I tell them "Hopefully you won't hear from me the rest of the night." I've been trying to find somebody to help me out, I asked at Wolman Hall and that Paper Moon Diner (and here he lists half a dozen other places), but nobody could help me. So do you think we could get a ride or maybe some money for a bus so we can get home? I could show you my military ID, and I could front you a check or this gold chain here."

And that is essentially his story (his is much longer, but I'm tired of typing it, and it's already pretty long).

The problem with this routine is that after you've seen him, say, 2 or 3 times, you start to figure out that just maybe he's not quite on the up and up. The first time I ran into him and realized he was a scammer, I just told him to get lost. The second time, I sat and listened to his long, boring story, while I smoked my cigarette. My mind had really started to wander, and all of a sudden I realized he had stopped talking and was looking at me with a puzzled expression. That meant he had just finished his story and asked me for some money. I stood there silently for a few seconds, and then said "You know, it's strange. I think I met your twin brother a few months back. Maybe you should give him a call, he was having car trouble too." He stared at me for a second, and then asks in a very quiet voice for a cigarette. I give him one and send him on his way.

I'm pretty sure, after that, he remembered me. Maybe 4 months after this second incident, I was walking down to get a hoagie at Uni Mini. We passed a corner and saw, down the street, none other than our old friend Bob, trying to get money off someone. He gave us an expression that approached panic: we're pretty sure he was worried we would go over and give him away. This was all perhaps a year ago. Since then, every time I've seen him, he either just walks past, silently, or comes up and tries to bum a smoke.

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