The moth is supported by progressive, progressive has you covered when it comes to car insurance, starting with built in savings like discounts for being a safe driver, you can also save when you start your, quote, online or have multiple vehicles on your policy. In fact, drivers who switch and save with progressive save over 750 dollars on average start a quote online and see all the discounts for yourself. Visit progressive dotcom today. National annual average auto insurance savings by new customers surveyed in 2019, potential savings will vary, discounts vary and are not available in all states and situations.
And keep listening at the end of the show today for a special bonus story made possible by progressive, the market would like to thank our friends at one 800 flowers for their ongoing support of those moving through grief. During this time of social distancing, how can you express your condolences and be present from afar? Reach out to the grieving and share a simple story. Check in on them during meaningful days or holidays. Host a virtual potluck so they know they're not really alone.
Let one 800 flowers help you navigate these uncertain times. Visit 1-800-Flowers.com, put them off for more helpful tips on how to show your support. That's 1-800-Flowers.com them off. Hey, community, some of them off. Slam stories are so good we have to hear them again. Join us for Play It Again Slam on Wednesday, March 31st, our special showcase featuring beloved storylines picked from our story slam series, stories that split guts, broke hearts and took up residency in the backwaters of our minds.
Buy tickets at the Moth Dawgs played again slam. Welcome to The Moth podcast, I'm your host for this week, Jean-Lou, and I'm the assistant controller at The Moth. I'm recording this episode during tax season in the U.S., which can be a time of confusion and anxiety for millions of Americans. Part of my job as an accountant at The Moth is to help my team feel more comfortable with money. Want to know how many tickets we sold at a story slam?
I have a report for that. Want a donation count from the annual mothball? I have a report for that.
Having a report for that makes the whole thing sound easy. But translating millions of tiny details into one digestible story is a lot harder than it looks on the podcast. Today, we have two stories about everyday people struggling to make sense of the impact that money has on their relationships and their inner growth. First up, Sarah Rosa, SB Jacobsson. Sarah told the story at a Sydney story slam where the theme of the night was, you guessed it, money here.
Sarah, live at the mall.
So when people used to tell me that cultural or language differences can put strain on a new relationship, I thought it was ridiculous, just fallen in love with a Dutch girl. And I thought, you say odd apple. I say potato. Who cares?
And then one day, quite soon in the relationship, we're in that stage of finding out everything about each other. We were sitting on a bench sort of covered in pigeon poo, looking at some traffic.
And I remember it vividly. And she said to me, could you please give me that 10 euros that for the concert ticket I bought for you?
Now, that concert was a concert, she had invited me to a concert that she was playing the harp at actually, and a concert I would never otherwise chosen to see.
And I said, excuse me. And I suddenly thought, this isn't going to work.
This is really not going to work. The language thing is OK, but the fact is we don't speak the same language.
And let me tell you a bit about my money language coming from a large South African Jewish family in my family.
Paying the bill is a kind of technical sport, even more important than what you eat and anything is permissible.
Sub to refuse a favorite check, as my father says, I'm just going to go to the toilet. But he pays the bill or emotional blackmail. That's all fine. My great aunt used to say, do you think I can't pay for a couple of cups of coffee and even emote? Even physical wrestling has been known to happen. You've got to pay that bill.
And here I was with this new girl who wouldn't stump up 10 euros for a concert ticket. So in my family, it got to the bill paying literally really the highest extreme. I think the worst incident was when we went to a restaurant called Vintage India in Cape Town. And we'd always driven past it and was always empty with these bright pink curtains. And my mother said one day that we should go there. So we went with my aunt and my mother and all the families and my aunt and my mother, the fiercest Bilpin competitors.
No one has known to beat them. And we're just going to have a few little carriages. But it turned out that the food was very bad, very, very expensive.
Think of kind of deep fried deviled eggs. It turns out vintage India isn't a good cuisine.
And the waitress who served us was an absolute magician at upselling something I've never been able to do. So a few curries turned into this lavish, inedible banquet plate after plate after plate came out.
And at the end, my mother was adamant she'd pay the bill. She'd taken us there. She was wracked with guilt and my aunt, so they had they went through all the strategies, the wrestling, the emotional blackmail, everything. And then eventually my aunt said, fuck, fuck off, I'm paying. Because my aunt has a trump card and that is unbeatable histrionics and Franconia, so this is the language I know about money.
This is what I had had for twenty eight years by that stage. Money means generosity. It means love. It means showing people you care about them. You might not actually have a lot of money, but going out for dinner is living life well. And imagine my shock when I got to the Netherlands where I was doing my master's at a friend of mine. I gave a friend money for a glass of wine and she came back and she said, oh, it was a bit more expensive.
Could you give me another euro that was really, really taken aback.
And then that got to that very crucial part with my girlfriend, because I thought.
Does she not care about Musha miserly person and we sat there on that bench covered with pigeon poo, with the traffic going past, and she was completely miserable and perplexed. You really don't see what the problem was. She had paid for the ticket and I was asking for the money. And eventually, after lots and lots of back and forth, I realized that we weren't so different. In fact, I was partly so pissed off because I had been keeping my own tally and I decided it was her turn.
She should have paid for the ticket because I paid for all the other tickets and I thought about it some more. And I thought actually those that large of my family, lovely as it can be, is not. Has its own kind of tally as well. There are always strings attached. There's a lot of stress and there's a lot of guilt and there's a lot of Allcott who paid the last time and how will I do this? And if you think even of British drinking culture where there's like a drink buying and rounds, it goes very sour very quickly when someone doesn't stand around.
So I thought, actually, money always matters, but some people are more straightforward about it than other people. And now, as you might have guessed, we with this whole money language thing and five years later I've realized that, in fact, my girlfriend is one of the most generous people that I've met.
She's unflinchingly supporting me through years of unending dissertation writing and earning very little money. And I can accept that generosity completely because I know that if she didn't like it, she would tell me.
That was Sarah Rosa Aspey Jacobson. Sarah is a writer living with her family in Rotterdam. She fell in love with live storytelling when she encountered The Moth while living in Sydney and has one four story slams and a grand slam to see some photos of Sarah, her partner, who just happens to be the same Dutch girlfriend from her story and their daughter.
Head to our website, The Moth Extras. Up next, Michelle Murphy, Michelle told the story at a Denver story slam where the theme of the night was bamboozled. Here's Michelle live at the mall.
I am so excited and embarrassed to be here, I'm just going to level with you guys and start that I was the one who was scammed, bamboozled, hoodwinked, led astray, as Jarrel would say. And I want to start honestly, because I'm still in denial about this. I didn't really consider myself to be a gullible person growing up. In fact, I loved pulling pranks. My friend and I would always feel pranks on people. We also knew how to hustle.
When we were five or six, we would go around the block.
I'm not sure why we weren't supervised, but we would go to our neighbor's houses and we would pick up rocks from their driveway and pine cones from their yard leaves really just any natural debris.
And then we would ring the doorbell and we would sell their garbage property back to them for two bucks a pop. We considered ourselves pretty slick.
That's not to say I ever thought I was savvy or capable or independent as the youngest of four. I'm definitely like the baby of the family.
I don't know how to do. Like anything like X, Y, Z. So I sort of straddle these two identities, but I never thought that I would fall for a granny scam until a month ago. I was working from home and I work for like a crisis line. So when people are in crisis, they text me. Can you imagine after this story, nobody will.
And I answer the phone and a woman says your Social Security number was stolen and it's been associated with a really violent crime. I was like, oh, my gosh. And so she gives me the case ID number of this very serious situation and she forwards me to a federal agent.
It is hard to tell this with a straight face. In retrospect, the federal agent tells me that with my identity, a car has been stolen. In Texas, a woman is missing. The car crashed and the missing woman's blood remains and eight pounds of cocaine.
And I was like, holy fuck, I haven't been to Texas in 10 years. My sister lives there, but I would never murder her and then get blown out on a baby's weight of cocaine.
So that's not my style. So I was very upset by this news. And I just I just started crying because I was like, really intense and like, it wasn't me, man, and I didn't do it. So they say, you know, are you going to cooperate with us to both exonerate yourself for the crime?
I literally was no, didn't commit it, but and help us catch the killer. And I was like, yes, I want both of those things. I want to prove my innocence. I want to catch this murdering motherfucker. So, like, let's do it.
And they're like, OK, first thing you have to do everything we say to a T. And you can't tell anyone because we're handling this at the federal level. We don't want to involve the state. So first of all, what?
Second of all, I had already talked to my coworkers being like I'm under federal investigation. So they told me this. And I'm like, OK, OK. I from this moment forward, I will not break the law. I will keep this secret. Like my dad even comes downstairs. He's like, Are you talking to your dad?
Like this is a federal investigation. So I'm taking this very seriously. So they're like, OK, the first step is you need to go to your car. How? That's like very classist.
They assume I have a car and they're like, and you need to go to the address that they gave me is the Safeway on crime area, also known as the Unsafe Way growing up, also known as the conglomerate of like liquor stores where we would buy illegal like watermelon vodka because we were garbage six year olds. I don't know. So that should have been like the eleventh flag, but it was not even the first flag. So I go to the car there on speakerphone the whole time.
I can't get off speakerphone. That's been made very clear to me. And I'm crying.
I'm driving there.
And I remember thinking, like I sometimes I do acting or whatever, but like I could never work for the CIA, like when the stakes are high, I don't know what they're going to ask me to do, but like, I don't know if I'm ready for it.
And friends, if you're ever saying to yourself, I don't know if the CIA would hire me, the answer is the CIA wouldn't hire you. And whatever you're being asked to do, it's not legitimate. So this is just something I learned on the road. So I get to the parking lot and I'm like, OK, I'm ready. And they're like, OK, go into the King Soopers or the unsafe way. I don't know which one. And they're like, here's the situation.
We want the killer to try to get into your bank account so that we can expose them.
But first, you need to secure your assets.
And I'm like, OK, again, youngest child, many. How does it move? I don't know. I don't get anything.
So I make sure I find whatever and they're like, but you have to be very sneaky.
Like you have to say, you know, the person you're getting it for, they're trained. So if they see that you're lying, they're going to push a button and they're going to come arrest you again for a crime you did not commit. So I was like, oh, my God. Also, the investigation will be compromised and I wanted to catch the killer. So I was very smooth. I go in and put on an act and ask the highest limit I can take out.
And this woman's like, Do you know who you're buying this for? Because earlier today, a woman was scammed, didn't even register.
I was like, oh, fucking sucks for her. Like, I am on a secret mission. So I buy that also they were like, this is a federal confirmation card to confirm your assets in the name of a Google Play card.
So I knew that before going into the store, I still went into the store, thought the other lady was a sucker, like bought it. So I get back in the car. They're like, OK, now we're ready.
So you're going to turn the card over. I'm like, OK, they're like, get a quarter, OK? They're like, find the gray line.
And they're like, you're just going to scratch it out and read it to us.
And I was like, well, no, this is the one moment, my one redeeming moment where I realized I'm not going to do that. So then they forwarded me to the attorney general.
So I'm talking to the big dogs now.
What followed were just like two and a half hours of belabored conversation where they kept saying, we're going to arrest you.
And I kept saying I didn't kill anyone. And that's not a habeas corpus work. So I'm like, this is terrible. I finally have the gall to text my my good friend. And I'm like her brother's lawyer. I'm like, I need your brother's number. I'm under federal investigation. I cannot say why this is very serious. And she's like, I don't know what you're talking about, but here is his number. So I'm getting yelled at.
I'm sobbing and just like feeling terrible. I've driven home by now. And I, I just opened my computer and I type in the exact thing that's happening to me and it's like damn bitch scam scams.
And there are a lot of like altruistic lawyers in Pennsylvania who are like, we are very serious about stopping this, like don't fall for it. And I'm like, oh my God.
And I wish I could tell you that I had like a really bad ass line, but I was more just like, what's your case I.D. number again?
Like, I don't know. And they were like, we're going to arrest you. We're sending federal agents right now. And I said, that's wonderful. I'd love to talk to somebody in person. So they hang up the phone. I still haven't read them the number I call my friend's brother, the lawyer. He's uncharacteristically kind to me, not because he's not usually kind, but he loves an opportunity to make fun of someone. And this is like such low hanging fruit.
And he leaves me with the wisest words I'll ever I'll ever remember that I will leave you with now, which is Michelle. It happens to the best of us.
But if federal agents think that you stole a car and murdered a woman and you were trafficking cocaine into the United States, they'll come to your house and they'll tell you they think that.
Thank you. That was Michelle Murphy, Michelle wants listeners to know that she has not been contacted for recruitment by the CIA. She continues on as a storyteller and comedian living in Denver, Colorado. Like many of us, she often thinks about starting a podcast. We'll hold you to it, Michelle, to see some photos of Michelle. During the years of her pinecone business, head to our Web site, The Moth. Again, Extras. We followed up with Michelle and she says that while she hasn't been scammed again since telling the story, the same number still calls her every few weeks.
She says she tries to keep them on the phone for as long as possible and hopes that they'll have less time to take advantage of other people. Here's Michelle to give us a little more insight into her story.
I did get the five hundred dollars back.
I spent about three weeks on the phone with my bank, with Kroger. It was very embarrassing, but I got the money back. And, yeah, when I when I look at that version of myself, I have a little more forgiveness for being so gullible because I realize, you know, I was working in crisis work at the time and I part of my job was to teach people how to take crisis conversations. And so one of the things we teach is that when somebody reaches out to you in an emotional crisis, you don't second guess them or interrogate them.
You validate what they're going through and you listen.
And so I think it was a perfect storm where I was wearing that mental health cap and really ready to believe anything that anyone came to me with. And while I definitely want to get a clue, I also don't know if I want to change that part about myself fully. I'd like to to still mostly believe in people. I just will never answer the phone again from an unknown caller.
That was Michelle Murphy, what I love about this week's stories is the way that they reveal how conversations about money are never just about money, they're about the ideas we grew up with and our beliefs about what we're allowed to have in the culture. My parents grew up in paying for someone else's meal or sharing your salary. No, with a friend wasn't nosy. It was a form of care. Changing our ideas about money is as easy or as difficult as changing our perception of things.
So the next time you're filing your taxes, just imagine that you're a squirrel selling pine cones back to the forest that created those pine cones in the first place. Until next time for all of us here at The Moth have a story worthy week. Jen Lew is the assistant controller at The Moth. She has an MFA in writing from Hunter College and a Roth IRA. When it comes to money, she loves to pick up the tab. This episode of The Moth podcast was produced by me, Julia Purcell with Sarah Austin Ginés, Sarah Jane Johnson and Jen Liu.
The rest of the Moth leadership team includes Kathryn Burns, Sarah Habermann, Jennifer Hickson, Meg Bolls, Kate tellers, Jennifer Bermingham, Marina Klutch, Suzanne Rust, Brandon Grant, Inga Gorsky and Aldy casette special. Thanks to John Lou for hosting her first ever podcast episode. My stories are true as remembered and affirmed by storytellers. For more about our podcast information on pitching your own story and everything else, go to our Web site, The Moth Dog.
The Moth podcast is presented by the Public Radio Exchange helping make public radio more public. A Pyrex dog.