I Fell For an Internet Scam and it Made Me More Empathetic

Emily Kingsley
6 min readJun 19, 2020

Stupid people are everywhere. Sometimes I am one of them.

Photo by Hailey wright on Unsplash

In the spring of 2007, I was living on a sailboat, traveling up and down the California Coast. I owned three pairs of pants, six t-shirts and one of those white plastic MacBooks that I could only charge when my boat was connected to shore power.

I had been accepted to a graduate school program in New Hampshire and was trying to plan how I could shift from the transient life of a wayward sailor to one on land where I would have to grocery shop and wear shoes from time to time.

I was 25 and had a college degree, but I had avoided many of the lessons of adulthood by running away to the sea. There’s a certain comfort in the necessary restrictions of life on a boat. When all of your possessions have to fit into a two foot by two foot storage cubby, you don’t worry about having the right outfit or making sure your nails are polished.

Instead, the focus of every day is drinking enough water, wearing sunscreen and not losing your hat or sunglasses overboard. It’s a simple and beautiful life.

But it’s not one that you can live forever.

Which is why I found myself sitting at the dock scrolling through craigslist ads looking for a place to live and a car to buy in a state 3000 miles away.

I felt triumphant and savvy when I found a little 600 square foot cottage that was in my budget. I had several long conversations with the landlord explaining my situation and asking questions about the rental agreement. Finally, I mailed him a check, imagining what it would be like to live on dry land where my coffee mug wouldn’t slide across the table and spill every time a big wave hit.

Feeling confident about my ability to make adult decisions, I moved on to shop for a car. My plan was to fly from California to New York or Boston, where I would then get a ride from a friend to pick up a sassy little sedan that would reliably carry me to my grad school classes and a life away from the ocean.

At this point in my life, I had shopped for and driven several cars, so I felt experienced and wise instead of the rookie that I really was. On top of that, I was still optimistic about the world…

Emily Kingsley

Always polishing the flip side of the coin. Live updates from the middle class. e.kingsleywhalen@gmail.com. She/her.