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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Is a ”well intended” gift really well intended if there is a string attached?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26834points) July 23rd, 2014

Disclaimer Yeah, this is an incident I experienced.

On the way to a meeting I stopped by the coffee house to kill a few minutes. Since I was only going to be there a few moments I sat outside instead of going inside as usual. A man stopped by me and asked me some question about Facebook and somehow the conversation lingered. During the conversation another man who was there before and not a part of the conversation placed a laptop bag on the table in front of me and motioned that it was now mine. I really did not need another laptop bag but since it was smaller than the ones I had I thought it would be a good size to take to church. After the 1st guy left and I was about to leave, the man who gave me the laptop bag asked me if it was OK and pointed out some of its features, which I seen myself already, then mentioned he was homeless and asked if I could spare $2 bucks. I did not want to accept the bag because I felt it would lead to something more, but I did not want to offend him by indicating that people rarely give without an angle. I was right, there was a string attached. Had I not been talking to the 1st chap I might have taken the bag and beat it from the coffee house thwarting the other man’s intention. Do you feel a gift is disingenuous if there is a string attached or some angle the giver seeks to use? Would you have given it back and said if there are strings attached you do not care for it? Do you believe that a nice laptop bag is a good investment even if there was a $2 dollar string attached to it?

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19 Answers

downtide's avatar

In certain cases I think a gift with strings attached is disingenuous but in this particular case I would happily have paid the chap $2 for the bag. But it would have been better if he’d said “I’ll sell it to you for $2 if you want it,” rather than presenting it first as a gift. If he’d done it that way round he wouldn’t have left you feeling like you’d been cheated.

trailsillustrated's avatar

If I wanted it, I’d give him the 2 buck coin and take the bag. If I didn’t, I’d say no thanks and move to another area of the shop. Easy. The entire thing would’ve taken 2 seconds of my thought process.

El_Cadejo's avatar

That’s not such a bad experience, I probably would have given him the two bucks regardless if I wanted the bag or not.

When I was in St Thomas my fiance and I were stopped by a homeless man that took up conversation with my fiance about how pretty she was and such. He claimed to be an artist that wanted to draw a sketch of her. We were on a bit of a schedule to get where we were going so we could be back in time to catch the ferry but he kept insisting so we decided to hang around for a couple minutes. He then proceeded to draw the roughest, shittiest picture I’ve seen in a while, like a few steps above a stick figure. When he was finished he handed it to her, she thanked him for it and then he asked for $20. I was baffled by the whole thing. I get it, you’re homeless and trying to get some money to eat, but don’t pull the whole act, just be genuine and I’ll give you something. In the end we bought him some food and got on our way.

Brian1946's avatar

Gifts such as yo-yos and kites are well-intended, especially if strings are attached. ;-)

ucme's avatar

String? I prefer a pretty little bow.

jca's avatar

When strangers talk to me, whether they appear homeless or not, I am polite, sometimes friendly, but don’t exchange money or items with them. I don’t want their stuff, need their stuff or want to encourage the “underground economy” (meaning stealing). I also don’t want to encourage them to hang around me. I’m not afraid but nor am I looking for company.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think it’s a mistake to consider the bag a gift. It’s more a marketing ploy to extract $2 by counting on your basic decency. The event is interesting as an exercise to mull over. Perhaps I’m wrong. Since the bag is obviously worth more than $2, the man might just as easily stood on the corner with a sign reading “quality laptop bag—$5.00”.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, it was a manipulative ploy, even if it was only $2.00
“Gift” with “Strings” attached is an oxymoron.
If one expects something in return for a “gift”, even if that is nothing more than copious praise and thank yous, it is not truly a gift.

GloPro's avatar

Ugh. My neighbor pulls that crap all of the time. She’ll bring something over she no longer wants and leave it at my house… Like a set of mugs or something. A couple of days later she’ll ask to borrow a top, and when I go to retrieve it she’ll say she decided to keep it in exchange for the mugs.
Um, no. You may not commandeer my belongings and gift me cheap crap I didn’t ask for or need. I’ve decided she’s just crazy, honestly.

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro OMG!

I dumped a friend sorta like that a few years ago. It took me years to finally catch on to her subtle manipulations. She was always ” giving” me something then calling in “favors”. The final straw was when she lied to me about the cost of a vacation trip she wanted me to go on.

She told me that I only needed to buy my plane ticket and spending money because the accommodations were “free.”
Then, after we got home she was driving me insane with near daily asking for “favors”, and when I finally told her that she was stepping on my toes with all her requests she says ” Well..I wasn’t going to tell you this but I paid for the apartment in Taipei City.”!!!

Uh..and your point is that now I OWE you for fucking EVER for something you lied about and I did not consent to? I don’t think so!

jca's avatar

@GloPro: I would tell her I’ll give you the mugs back, give me back my shirt. If she gave me a hard time, I’d probably call the cops on her (just to teach her a lesson).

GloPro's avatar

@jca I do put my foot down, quite often. She will never change. She’s very selfish and obtuse, and thinks it’s all “no big deal” or that I’m too uptight. She fails to see that every exchange she makes is only what benefits her. I’m constantly slightly annoyed with her.
She also only brings $20 cash everywhere we go, and then overspends. I have several friends that have told me they refuse to go anywhere with her anymore because it costs them money.
I used to think she knew what she was doing. Now I think she genuinely has no clue and that’s how she is. As mentioned, she just doesn’t see it and thinks people are making a big deal out of nothing.

Just last night she left a big stack of Disney and kid DVDs on my deck. I have no kids. I have no DVD player.

jca's avatar

@GloPro: Anything she gave me, I’d return promptly to her. I wouldn’t want to be the recipient of her crap.

I wouldn’t go out with her if she couldn’t take care of herself. I mean, everyone may have a time when they forget their wallet or they need to find an ATM or whatever, but they should try to make it up next time, or “you get me this time, I’ll get you next time” or something. For someone to do that repeatedly, no bueno in my opinion. As far as lending stuff to her, I wouldn’t. I value my stuff too much to have it borrowed and not returned.

GloPro's avatar

@jca It all sounds easy on paper. This woman has been in Tahoe for 20 years and knows everyone I know. It just isn’t completely possible to exclude her. Heck, she introduced me to a lot of my friends. She is also my only neighbor in a duplex townhouse on the beach. I enjoy her company in doses and would not choose a semi-hostile environment with a neighbor over a friendly one. I’m moving in one month. She takes my things when she comes over to walk my dog, which I appreciate even though it’s annoying (sometimes you sacrifice for the needs if your kids/pets).
So at the moment I just suck it up, take the DVDs and mugs and crap back, explain that I am not in need of them, and keep an eye out for my stuff. One. More. Month.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@downtide But it would have been better if he’d said “I’ll sell it to you for $2 if you want it,” rather than presenting it first as a gift. If he’d done it that way round he wouldn’t have left you feeling like you’d been cheated.
I did not feel I was cheated because the bag was well worth more than $2 bucks, I guess I felt disappointed that he tried the very ruse I felt he would, that he attempted to manipulate me and thus be disingenuous. I did let him ”bum” the $2 bucks, like I said, I could have blew a hole in his plan and cut the conversation short with the 1st guy and beat if from the coffee house before he had the opportunity to ask for money but I did not.

@jca I don’t want their stuff, need their stuff or want to encourage the “underground economy” (meaning stealing).
I assessed whether it might have been stolen; it was ”gently used”, so it was not new all wrapped up. It did not have personalization on it; no monograms, engraved tags, etc. Since homeless people often hang around there frequently people leave stuff there in hopes they will find them and make use of them. Sweaters, vest, etc. have been left there so I am thinking he may have picked it up when it was left, or one of the other areas where such things occur. I do not buy stuff that appears ”hot” off someone on the street, no matter how they look.

Coloma's avatar

I think the point being made is when people pawn off unwanted items as “gifts” and then behave as IF they have really done something amazing for you! haha
I have had another friend over the years that would pawn off her leftover food as if it was some sort of “gift”, when really, she just didn’t want to throw out the freaking easter ham carcass. It was SO obvious! “Gee thanks for the fucking hambone.” lol

People need to ASK if you want something and not employ sneaky, dipshit maneuvers.

GloPro's avatar

I got more DVDs today. I didn’t happen to go buy a DVD player since yesterday, so why she gives me more today is beyond me.

jca's avatar

@GloPro: I know you’re not asking for advice, but I would just tell her “no thank you.”

One thing I don’t need is my neighbor’s unwanted crap.

GloPro's avatar

I do take it all back. I tell her no, thank you. More crap shows up the next day. It’s almost comical. It’s like she’s my own personal Milo, bringing me offerings.

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