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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Dear Rachel,

I’m writing regarding the letter from the woman who had an unnerving experience when she accidentally hit another car behind hers in a parking space (Chronicles, Dec. 20). Years ago I was driving a van one night and clipped the mirror of a parked car at a corner where I was making a tight right turn. I didn’t stop because it was nighttime and as a woman alone I wasn’t looking for unpleasant encounters with anyone.

As luck would have it, the driver of that vehicle was behind the wheel and promptly followed me. When I pulled into a parking lot moments later, he was right there waiting to confront me. “You hit my car,” he said. “I did? Sorry…” I knew there had to be little or no damage by my slight nick so I played dumb and tried a simple apology.

“What ya gonna do about it?” he asked. His message was clear; I removed two twenties from my wallet and handed them to him saying “this is all I have on me.” He took them and went on his merry way.

Now this happened about thirty years ago. We live in a much more dangerous world today. Just a few months ago a middle-aged man from one of our communities disappeared. He never made it home one day and no one was able to locate him – until Shomrim went to work and began a painstaking search of all the area hospitals. They discovered him in the intensive care unit of one of them, hooked up to a respirator.

Apparently he had collapsed on the street and a passerby called 911. The hospital he was taken to had determined that he required immediate brain surgery due to a serious head injury. Surveillance of videotapes in the vicinity where he was found showed two men approaching him and asking him to make change of a large bill. The man obliges by removing a thick wad of bills to accommodate their request. Video footage further reveals the two men then following closely behind their benefactor, until they are all out of viewing range.

This case is currently under investigation, though the poor man has since passed away without ever regaining consciousness. Theory is he suffered head trauma when he was accosted as he was about to get into his car.

People should be forewarned never to flash money in the presence of strangers, or anywhere on the street for that matter. If this is the only way to help a stranger asking for a favor, better to say “Sorry, I don’t have.”

This man’s act of kindness may have cost him his life. Unfortunately, as today’s newspaper headlines too often declare, we live in a jungle. Some of the people whose paths we cross have absolutely no regard for human life and will stop at nothing to get their dirty hands on someone else’s hard-earned property.

Readers are advised to teach their children who are trustingly naïve to always be on their guard.

 

Playing it safe…  

Dear Playing,

Thanks for the warning. Allow me to add that women should be careful when walking with their pocketbooks at their sides, especially in the big city. I know of one woman who had her pocketbook, hanging from her shoulder, swiped by a biker who rode up next to her and was gone with her purse before she could blink or react. (A more secure way to wear one is to sling it crosswise over one shoulder, letting the bag rest on the opposite hip, with one hand firmly grasping it.)

Working women who step out of the office for brief intervals are better off leaving their pocketbooks behind and concealing some cash or a credit card in a coat, jacket or vest pocket.

As for shopping with a credit card, headaches can be avoided by shielding the number on the card when holding it at the checkout, so that it is not visible to anyone standing nearby. Never losing sight of the card as a transaction is being processed, and tucking it safely away as soon as it is returned, will further lessen the chance of fraudulent activity on the account.

Most stores today do not expose credit card numbers on sales receipts, but it doesn’t hurt to double check to make sure. Monthly statements should be scrutinized for accuracy as soon as they are received in the mail. Recent purchases and up-to-date balances can be simply verified by calling the 800 number on the card.

Most importantly, confidential information such as bank and credit card account numbers, as well as social security numbers, should never be transmitted to anyone via e-mail. (E-mail accounts are regularly, universally, hacked.) Like they say, better safe than sorry!

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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