Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 10

Lilly couldn’t help staring across the table in nervous expectation at how the man she had been talking to all week looked like…

He was… chubbier than she had imagined…a mask really does change and hide the shape of the face. This reminded her of a Webtoon she once read, in which all of the characters had to wear masks to conceal their face. They were only allowed to take their masks off to their immediate family members and lovers. Who would have thought that this would become a reality for her as well.

But, he was not bad. Cute..maybe if you really squinted your eyes a little. Did he look like any of the blurred and pixelated photos on his dating profile? Nope. This was a completely different person sitting in front of her… She was such a fool. Who was this person? Was he going to try get something from her?

“Hey! You didn’t have to hide your face! You look alright!” She said, she felt nervous when she didn’t know what to say.

“I can see it in your eyes! You are disappointed that I don’t look like my photos right?”. He said, pointing out the obvious.

“Well, as you said they were really old photos right? Before you somehow gained 15 kg?”. She said trying to recall their previous conversation.

“Yeah something like that. I used to practice Muay Thai and kick boxing in the United States before coming here…But I didn’t do any exercise since I moved here. I cam at the worst time”. He laughed.

“Say, are you living on your at the moment?” He asked suddenly.

Why did he suddenly want to know about this she wondered?…

“Well kind of, I am sharing a house with a few other people..but I guess I have my own kitchenette and bathroom, so its not too bad. I just share the laundry room with the others.” She said carefully, she didn’t want to make it sound she lived alone.

“Oh…how much is the rent there? I need to move out from the place in the city soon and moving to your suburb should be cheaper I think…” He said.

“Oh..ummmm its probably about $300 a week? Not including electricity or Wifi…” She said.

“Oh…that’s still more expensive than I thought! I guess I will have to keep looking for a place sharing with more people”. He said disappointingly..

“Oh…What’s your budget per week?” She asked.

“Hmmm…Maybe around $150 a week?”.. He said hopefully.

“Oh…haha that’s half my rent…are you offering to share my rent?” She said nervously. What was he trying to hint at?

“No…of course not~! I don’t think I can afford that…especially since it doesn’t cover all the bills..I mean…I can offer to cook and clean for you if you would like, in exchange for board!” He said hopefully.

I don’t even know you mate, and you are already offering to move in she thought.

“Haha! Yes, that would be great. I am incredibly lazy to cook sometimes!” She tried to laugh it off.

“Oh YUM. This is really delicious!” She said trying to change the topic and focusing on eating her ramen instead.

“Yeah it is great! Thank you for the meal. Let me treat you next time to something nice and even more delicious ..” He said while eating some ramen.

They ate in silence for a few minutes. The silence was then broken by the iconic facebook notification sound coming from his phone. She could see someone had sent him a emoji of someone blowing a kiss flashed across the screen.

“Oh sorry about that! I should really put my phone on silent my phone during our date!” He turned his phone over and pressed a few buttons on his phones, I am guessing to turn off his notifications.

Strange. She recalled him clearly saying he had no social media accounts. Does she call him out now? was that weird? Hmm…So suspicious.

“Sooo anyway Lilly. Tell me all about you! What are you doing for a living and how are you surviving during covid?” He asked.

How about you tell me about YOURSELF? Is what she thought in her head, but she held herself back in saying it out loud.

“WELL to be honest, I am actually doing it pretty hard myself at the moment. I have a huge credit card bill that I have to pay off soon but I don’t have any money in my bank! I know this is quite sudden and we just met, but is there any chance that you could lend me $500? I actually need $1000, but anything helps”. She lied. She had read somewhere online that if you wanted to avoid being asked to borrow money, you have to ask FIRST. She hated lying but she had a gut feeling he would be asking her for money.

“….What?” He said, looking flabbergasted.

“Yeah, I am really sorry to ask you. But I promise to pay you back as soon as I get my next paycheck!” She said. Wow she should win an Oscar with her hopefully convincing act.

“Oh…sorry…I don’t think I can. Why don’t you ask you family or friends to lend it to you?”. He said sounding a bit pissed off.

“Yeah..too bad that are being hit REAL bad due to Covid too..”She said sadly.

“OHHH…I am SOOO sorry. I think I have to attend to an emergency at work!” He said looking at his phone screen which was blank.

“I’ll definitely make it up to you next time? My shout”. He winked and was off.

Sure you will..And that was the last time she ever heard or saw from him again. His number suddenly stopped working and as he “did not have” any social media accounts, he really was gone.

Good riddance Mr too good to be true.

——-

End note

Thank you for reading my first short story series!

Please stay tuned for more in the future 😀 !

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 9

They had just reached the food court and had put in their orders and were waiting for their food. She had offered to pay as it was a habit of hers to treat her friends, and plus she figured she had chosen this ramen place. He hadn’t even offered to pay… but ohwell.

“Soo…you said you worked as a chef she asked?”. Trying to break the awkward silence. Both of them had their masks on still.

“Yeah. Well, I am training to become a chef.. So I am just a kitchen-hand at the moment. But due to Covid-19 I think they will be reducing a lot of the staff, so I have a feeling I will lose my job soon”. He said sadly.

“Oh, sorry to hear that, do you have any ways of supporting yourself if you do lose your job?.” She asked.

“Well my mother has been sending money to me from Japan to support me. But I don’t want to rely on her so much….My lease for the apartment in the city will end at the end of this month as well, so I also need to look for a cheaper place to rent.”

“Oh..I. see… so no plans to go home? Do you like living in Australia?” She asked. She tried to sound as sympathetic as she could, but a part of her felt like he wasn’t telling the truth.

“Yeah, I want to stay here…but I can’t with no job and no money to pay rent.” He said somewhat sadly.

“Oh…is it hard to find another job at the moment?”. Lilly asked. She didn’t really know much about the hospitality industry, just that it had taken a huge hit because of Covid.

“Yeah it’s really hard right now. A lot of my friends have already lost their jobs and gone back to their home countries. I am really lucky to have had a job for so long. But I don’t think I will be able to stay when I lose my job too.”.

“Ahh that sucks”. She really did not know what to say or how to respond.

“I am also planning to go back to Japan for the death anniversary of my ex-girlfriend too, it might be hard to come back to Australia after that” He said.

“Oh, I see..yeah that’s true. There are limited overseas flights in and out of Australia at the moment and it’s so expensive!” She said.

Just then the food vendor shouted the number for their order and they went to get their food to eat outside as indoor dining was not allowed. They found a table and bench outside and sat down.

This was it, she was finally going to see his face.

“Well I guess we can finally see each other’s faces! Or we could eat with the masks on I guess..” She said jokingly.

They both went to remove their masks and put it on the table….

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 8

Oh Shit. He had seen her already…well this was awkward. She slowly looked towards her right and saw the same masked man that she had seen in the video. Well, at least he was the same person in the video call. However, nothing like on his profile photos.

She quickly put her mask on and opened her door and went to greet him. She had to be polite at least. Scammer or not, he was still a person…right? Her strict upbringing meant she was always taught to be kind and polite to everyone she met. She took a deep breath and said..

“Hi! Are you Hiroshi?” she asked a bit nervously.

She couldn’t see his face, but she could feel him smiling through the mask.

“Hello Lilly! I am so glad to finally meet you! I have to say, you look better in person than in your photos!” He said delighted.

Ummm…how was she even supposed to respond to that? That he looked worse than his photos? Well, he looked nothing alike his photos?

“Uhh, thanks? I guess? I am pretty bad at taking photos of myself..haha, but I guess you are good at taking photos, because your photos looked cool?” … More like because you look nothing like your photos she thought to herself.

As if he had read her mind, he replied, “I do get that a lot! The photos on my profile are pretty old…I haven’t updated them in a while..haha…I gained a lot of weight since coming to Melbourne. I think I gained 15 kg since I got here in January…and the lockdown, you know..it changed how I looked haha…” His tone gave out the impression he was little nervous, but he seemed he had rehearsed this story multiple times.

“Oh… I see! Haha I think I gained weight too during this year…but I did some work outs at home…sooo I think it wasn’t that much”. Lilly said awkwardly.

“Are you disappointed? That I look worse in real life.” He asked suddenly in a somewhat sad tone with a hint of joking..

Wow. He was …So direct.

“Ohhh no I am not disappointed! Looks doesn’t matter that much anyway to me! Shall we go to the food court?” She stammered, trying to change the subject. Let’s get this over and done with.

“Yeah! Let’s go! I can’t wait to try this ramen store that you recommend!”

As they walked towards the food court, Lilly thought about how she would respond to seeing his face for the first time and getting to know him. It would confirm or reject the conclusion that she had that she smelled a catfish..

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 7

Saturday rolled around faster than she expected and now she was getting ready for the date. She was tossing up between two different dresses, one was a low cut sexy black mini dress while the other one was a cute long green dress which didn’t show her body shape at all. In the end she chose the green dress, she didn’t know who this guy was and he could turn out to be a creepy stalker after all. She put on some make up and straightenedd her hair, smiled at herself in the mirror, grimaced at herself and then grabbed her keys and went out.

She had just parked her car at the station when the message alert rang out on her phone. It was Hiroshi….

“Hi Lilly. Sorry, I am running a few minutes late today because the train was delayed :(. Just to let you know I am wearing a maroon backpack and wearing a brown jacket. See you soon!” He then also sent a photo of him in his mask sitting in the train…

Damn, she had time to kill, time to do more investigating. If Hiroshi didn’t have social media accounts, he might still use things like LinkedIn or surely she would be able to find some information on him, Hiroshi didn’t seem like that common of a name. As she didn’t know his last name, she typed in his first name and changed the location to “Melbourne, Victoria”. She then tried with the keywords, “Chef, Japanese, Hiroshi, Melbourne”. There was absolutely nothing. It was like this guy really did not exist. Who was he? Was she safe? Should she back out now? Now she was somewhat afraid, this was a complete stranger that seemed like he had something to hide…She rubbed her temples and thought deeply, she could leave now, but then she would never get the answers she wanted to find out. Before she could come to a conclusion she heard her phone alert go off.

“Hi Lilly. Are you here already? I see a girl in a car that looks like you. Look out the window to the right.”

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 6

“Oh…but what if we ever met up? Would you still be too shy to meet up then also?”. She asked curiously. This guy was acting sooo weird., what was he hiding under his mask? Why was he so relunctant to reveal how he looked like?

“I’ll only take my mask off when we meet up. So when are you free? Let’s meet up really soon,as I really want to see you in person”. Hiroshi said playfully.

Lilly didn’t know how to answer. Was it safe to meet someone who was so cautious about revealing their face? She had no way to confirm that the person on the other side of the screen was who they said they were. However, she felt drawn towards this mysterious person and she wanted to find out who they really were, so she guessed she would just play along for now.

“Ohhh sure. That’s fine! I Just had hoped to see your face online before we met, but anyways…are you free this Saturday? Do you want to meet at Central M-City Mall? Maybe we can have lunch at the food court there? I heard they have a really nice ramen store!”

“That sounds like a plan! What time should we meet?” he said enthusiastically.

“How about 12 pm at the M-City train station?” She suggested.

“Sounds great! I can’t wait to finally meet you! I am so excited!” he replied.

“Uhh.. me too”. His enthusiasm was somewhat contagious even though it seemed absurd that he would be so excited to meet a girl he had literally talked to for like …two days?

“Sorry, I am going to head to bed soon, I’ll see you on Saturday then?” She said.

“Sweet dreams beautiful girl! I am going to be so excited I won’t be able to sleep”. He laughed.

“..hhahha good night…” She hung up the phone. Semi creeped out, but also loving the attention that she was receiving. She hadn’t had any dates that had been so genuinely interested in her or had called her beautiful. It felt nice, but she still had that nagging doubt in her stomach that something did not seem right with this Hiroshi. Who was he and what was he hiding underneath that mask?

The evolution of the online dating<3

I would not call myself a trendsetter, or even someone that possesses the latest piece of technology..it was just by chance that when I needed a new laptop and was planning to get a MAC-the new MacBook Air came out..so I was like why not? *shrugs sheepishly*

ANYWAYS, online dating websites and apps have been around for ages…meeting people online (think Tinder, Ok CUPID, East meets East, bumble..) has always been a thing, but it still has such a stigma attached to it…because half-remembered quote from “Ralph Wrecks the Internet” – When something new comes along, the best thing for people to do is to fear it”.. something like that!

So..if we go back 18 years to when I was 10 years old (age reveal) and I made my first hotmail address which was something like sugar*****10@hotmail.com ..we used to all use something called MSN messenger! This is where online chats and adding random people on the internet became the new trend..suddenly …you could be whoever you wanted to be..!    You could change your name to Blonde_Hunk_with_Blue_Eyes or Sexy_Asian Chick_that_looks_like_Mulan_and find some random picture on the internet and pretend it was you…then you can proceed to what we now call “Cat fish” random strangers on the internet and pretend you are the love of their life, when you are NOT. True story, I have to confess my sister and I might have been chatting up a “young girl” and pretending to be a sexy blue-eyed blonde haired Australian lifeguard…but anyways…

This is before the world started caring so much about verified identity and privacy…when people said the internet was bad! Because young girls were being baited by old men behind the screens posing as handsome men, when in reality, for me it was the other way round.

I still remember playing Neopets obsessively for a period of time during my primary school days… and I also made friends on those guild websites..one guy called Ryan helped me build a website for my Naruto Guild…Another girl obsessed with Naruto, called Tiffany told me about her home town Canada, and at that young age I decided I would go to Canada to visit. It made the world suddenly seem smaller. I looked up the sky one day and thought to myself, somewhere on the other side of the world, perhaps in Canada, someone else is staring at the same sky.

In summary, the online digital world is changing…and why shouldn’t the way we meet people change as well? We can meet people not online in our proximity but interesting people all over the world with many fascinating stories…why limit yourself to those around you? What is to say that it safer to date and meet someone at a bar, where you know nothing about them in comparison to a guy you have been talking to for weeks online (and you’ve stalked their fb and insta to make sure they are who they say they are)..?

Why is there stigma surrounding online dating?

I realised myself, I have been really afraid to tell people I joined dating apps and I only told a few people. They didn’t judge..but I can see it in their eyes..When they asked, where did you guys meet?

Online is where we meet people with similar interests, buy stuff off them or find study groups…we’ve all done it before…there are actual people behind those screens…its not robots and they aren’t all serial killers.

 

But in saying that, it is always a good idea to let people know you are meeting someone online, have your phone on you (GPS on) and meet in a public place in day time…and make sure you have your own transport home and scapegoat excuses if you need to leave early… But yes, only meet after making sure that person is legit!! Stalk their fb…ask around and play detective. The more information the better…people that are real will act real, they won’t be ‘perfect’ you know? You will know…

 

I knew one happily married couple who met online like over 10 years ago..I’ve always assumed that that was a abnormality…I never asked what website..but I had my reservations..but hey..it worked..

 

But..I’ve always been somewhat traditional…I prefer writing traditional Chinese to simplified, I like writing and sending letters and cards than emails and I love receiving hand-written and made things…But at the same time, I am always open to trying new things that can make your life more interesting, better, and more efficient.

SO probably a ,year ago I decided to revisit my hobby when I was 10. I made an account on a dating website, but since I felt so ashamed-and didn’t want to get found out… and just wanted to try it for fun ( I wanted to see which other people I knew also used it!! haha) …I put a fake name..but being a but stupid I put a real photo (filters and stuff) on there..DOH..someone I kinda knew saw it and told a friend of mine…and I was found out…felt so guilty LOL..Coz fake name..I think I MAY or may not have also put some interests, languages and changed my ethnicity that was not true *Cough cough*..guilty as charged….but I am still the one behind the screen right? I am still real…but maybe not being as honest as I should…aint a good start to any relationship…

I talked to a few people..but the only one I almost met -some doctor from Melb- flaked at the last second…saying he was sick. I think it may have been due to the fact I invited two other people to join us for dinner (for our first meeting)….LOL yes I am super noob…I don’t do online dating remember ? Anyways,,, after that I was like screw this and deactivated the account.

Meeting people in real life is easier….or is it? Maybe it is for people that go out heaps…That enjoy partying, clubbing or whatever..but what about those introverts?

Those who hate loud music and don’t drink (or do drugs)! Also, they don’t really like meeting new people because it takes a lot of effort to make small talk.. and plus shy too. Yeah…fine… okay, people like me…to me…online dating feels safer,  I feel like I have more control…I get to find out a bit about these people online and ALSO you know that they are looking (most of the time) for a relationship too…and if they just want hookups-it’s usually written conveniently on their bio too..so you can swipe left for them -unless that’s what you want.

Suddenly you have an option to find the type of person you are looking for,  depending on what app.website you new using..it could be due to physical attributes (like height, ethnicity or body type..) or due to common interests… It’s interesting…because don’t you hate meeting someone new...and finding out that you have absolutely nothing in common and you don’t know what to talk about?

That’s me…I just…talk about the weather..yes lame..

ANYWAYS…to be honest, in my past relationships…at the start..it was always friendship and getting to know each other more online -through facebook messenger/watsapp/text a lot more than meeting up…

There is always a risk that you will get ghosted (ignored) by potential new connections..and it does hurt ..ALOT.. but if they ghosted you, it doesn’t reflect anything on you- it’s them with the problem…it is polite to let someone know if you aren’t interested instead of leading them on.

There is a risk of being cat-fished…I mean …people age right? Some people I know put photos of them 10 years earlier…when they were skinny and handsome…WHEREAS when they finally send a recent photo they are about three times wider around the middle, acquired glasses and lost some hair…YES u know what I mean..

In my opinion now..some tips on online dating (not that I am a pro)

If you are really serious about online dating, dare to be yourself. There is no point in trying to be someone else…because if you are there to meet your soul mate, don’t you want them to accept you for who you are and not what they think you are?

it is tiring pretending to be someone else that you aren’t. trust me… I learnt this the hard way.

They will eventually find out anyways!!

 

No point putting up a fake picture and then disappointing them when you meet up, if you don’t like being deceived , don’t do the same!

GO Dutch – don’t let one person pay for everything..esp on the first date ..because the person paying might feel like you are just there for a free meal…and the one receiving may feel obligated to be kind to them because they paid….I personally don’t like people I don’t know well paying for me…I’ve always been told by my mother..unless they are your boyfriend-never let them pay for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!SO yeah, go half and if it doesn’t work out, don’t need to feel bad for the =meal they paid for!

Not sure about you, but funny people are more approachable than people who seem too mean or serious.

I legit saw a bio where the guy was saying how he was still there because he still hadn’t found love…but he paid for 3 month subscription…it sounded like he had bad experience with online dating… he was like- no flakey people-no people who just want to be friends and aren’t looking for a relationship (wth-rood?) AND he also said that he wont pay for the first meal and that they will go dutch. I think he said at least THREE times that he only wants people who want serious relationships…

I think this dude is just too serious…man…you be scaring off and putting off any girl…I dunno…I felt like he was judging everyone else for being gold digging hoes or something…

Anyways,

In conclusion, while there are both pros and cons to the world of online dating- I do believe it is very useful for helping people meet other people that they normally wouldn’t in their normal circle of friends.
It is still very important to think about safety, privacy , and mannerisms when meeting people online for the first time, but with careful planning, research and getting to know the other person, I believe it can be a very rewarding experience. I think and hope in 10 years now, meeting people online will be the norm and not be stigmatised.

These are my own opinions and thoughts and I know everyone may have different views…

 

Joy and Peace to you and if you have any thoughts and opinions on online dating, please let me know below 🙂

 

Have a good day!