We have done many things in Paris and have been awed by so much, it has been a true honor to be part of this city and experience this life. Among these things, just as fascinating to witness, are the plots of the beggers and gypsies. This one in particular. The gold ring plot.
Jessica and I took a walk around the Seine River the other day and we encountered a man about a quarter the way through. This man was walking coming from the opposite direction and made this quick flank to be in front of us and reach down to the ground right by our feet. So of course, my eyes follow what he is reaching for. I automatically think that it has to be money. He is picking it up or that he picks things up off of the floor for a living – a homeless man. There on the ground, by my feet, was a shining “gold ring.” He made direct eye contact with Jessica and I and pretty much got in our way of going the path we were on, plus I must admit, Jessica and I were interested in this “finding of a ring.” I thought to myself “what a lucky guy to of found that.” He then put it on all of his fingers rather quickly, trying it out on which finger it might fit on then made a hand gesture towards us. Implying that maybe we had dropped it. We stated that it is not our ring, and someone else must of dropped it. We figured he thought it must be ours since it was directly by our feet where he picked it up from. He insisted that we take it. In French he was trying to offer us the ring, saying something along the lines of “marriage gift.” So we thought to ourselves briefly “what a nice homeless man to offer us a ring he found and could of sold for money.” It was cute and sincere, and we gratefully took the ring and started to walk off, smiling at each other, with the intent to chuck it on the river once he was out of sight. Then came the plot. He all of a sudden appeared again just a minute after we departed from him, saying “madam, madam, madam!!” We turn around of course, and he’s asking for food, for money, for anything. Implying that since he gave us a ring that he insisted was made of “gold”, that we should give him something. That’s the point where a itty bitty lightbulb went of in my head. I didn’t think of it as a plot, just some guy wanting some money. I said we had no money, and tried to pull Jessica away from him, as he kept insisting we give him something. Jessica offered him a mango she had bought from a market earlier that day. He at first, refused the mango, since euros was what he wanted. I kept trying to pull Jessica away, since by then, I was over it. He then took the ring back from Jessica, as if saying “you don’t deserve it now since you’re not giving me anything.” Then he wanted the mango, I only gave it to him because Jessica insisted, so I did it to just get away from him. We walked away a short moment after, continuing to say “no” to him a few times as he kept asking for stuff from behind us. We walked away, one mango less.
About halfway through our walk, we came across a woman that reached on the floor in front of this Parisian couple and tried handing something to them – they promptly said something along the lines of “hell no” in French and kept walking. That’s when the giant light bulb went off. We were scammed! It is a ploy that the gypsies and beggers use there, they have the ring in their hand, and drop it once their hand is close enough to the ground, close enough to not make a sound of it hitting the stone. Then they either make a gesture as if you must of dropped it, if you say no – they then try it on and then imply it does not fit, so you should take it as a gift. By then you are thinking what a great homeless man to offer a ring he just found and could of sold. If you say no, they insist, a lot of insisting takes place. You either take the ring because you thought it was a nice gesture or you took it for him to shut up. Once you start to walk away, thinking of them as such a great homeless guy for giving the “gold ring” to you, they then ask for money or food, more precisely money. So the whole attempt is not randomly finding a ring, its a plot of evoking some sort of happiness and a feeling of thanks for the man or woman offering you a ring that you feel sort of obligated to give them something for their offer. It’s to start communication, to get you taking to them and to have you feel some sort of emotion for them. Along our walk, we had a woman try to do it again to us, she stepped in front of us, reach to the ground – and before she even looked back up to us I had my hand out saying “NO.”
I have googled it and reached it, it’s happened to thousands of tourists and even to Parisians. But not one person ever falls for it twice. We fell for it, we offered up our sweet and rip mango – for nothing, really, since he snatched the ring back up.
And the “gold ring” is a “brass ring.”
Watch out! They’re everywhere!