Jan 08 2008

On a San Francisco street car, I witnessed someone get swindled by the [shell game](, played with some 20-ounce pop bottle tops. The guy was good; several shills played for small amounts first, and of course they all won. When it was the marks’ turn, they ended up putting something like $120 down. In a matter of seconds, they lost, the street car reached its stop, the game was packed up, and the shell man and the shills all disappeared in different directions. I have often regretted not doing something to stop those poor people from getting sucked in, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to dissuade them without upsetting the people running the game, people I really didn’t want unhappy with me. It was a surreal and frightening experience.