Just be glad they're not usually like this -
I was walking home from shopping one day when I saw a guy standing casually at the side of the footpath with his hands behind his back, watching the passers-by. He didn’t look like he was about to do anything weird. As I went past, he suddenly stepped forward to get my attention:
“Excuse me,” he said. He had an American accent.
“Are you a local?”
“Yes, I am,” I replied, thinking he was going to ask for directions.
“Well that’s great!” he said. “You qualify!”
“I qualify? Wow, that is great. Say, what do I qualify for?”
He brought his hands out from behind his back and handed me two books. “Here, these are yours!” he said. “We’re only giving them to locals today. We want to help people become more spiritually aware.”
I looked down at the cover of one of the books: “The Science of Self-Realization by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness”.
“Uh…okay, thanks very much.” I said, not wanting to create a scene.
“Say, what do you do for a living?” he asked.
“At the moment I’m doing graphic design.”
“Well that’s great,” he said, reaching over and opening one of the books he had given me. “See, there’s some really good art in these books.” He pointed out some strange drawings illustrating the concept of Karma. “See, Good Karma... Bad Karma...”
“Yes, they’re nice pictures. Okay, thanks.” I said.
“Oh, by the way...” he said, holding out his hand. “We usually ask people to consider giving a small donation for the books. Can be any amount, just from your heart, whatever you want to give. Some people give about $20. Think of it as Good Karma.”
“Ah, okay,” I said, rolling my eyes. I had been too nice and brought this on myself. Might as well give him something. I would know better next time. So I opened my wallet, and all I had left was $10. (In Australia that’s only about $5 U.S.) “Here, is this okay?”
“Ten dollars is...fine...” he said, looking a bit disappointed. “Uh, actually, would you mind giving one of those books back? We usually try to get a bit more for them.”