A long time ago… In a country far far away… I spent some time shilling for change on the side of the road. It’s a little weird to think about. Not the shilling; if you know me, you’ll know that’s about par. It was during my high school’s Spain/France trip for the foreign language students. Something like twelve years ago. Time flies.

Any road. I believe we were in France. We saw some folks doing impersonations of robots and statues and such for change on the road side. I thought I could do the same. So, a little ways down the road, so as not to grift in their territory – that’s important to these people -, I jumped up on a concrete pillar, pulled out a souvenir hat and proceeded to wait for a mark. I made a statue in Claire’s exact pose with my hat held out. Most of the passers by probably thought “Gee, ce gars-la n’a meme pas un costume” but I kept on with the statue act. A few minutes later curiosity got the better of one passer by and I was rewarded with some change. It. Was. Awesome. I jumped off the post, did a little jig for my change and jumped back up to assume my pose. Apparently shilling on the roadside while on a student trip is frowned on by authority figures.

The lesson here is: you can’t start teaching grifting skills too early. In a few years, I may even teach Claire the finer points of the short con. I’m thinking the St. Louis Squeeze. But, you know. It’s a flexible lesson plan.

Later in the trip, I used the same hat in a hotel lobby whilst playing the piano for change. Sweet sweet money. I miss that hat.

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