By Thomas Skernivitz
The first four words of the Aug. 19 headline on cleveland.com was all I needed to bring me back:
‘Habitual fake construction worker’ in Mentor gets 89 days in jail
Habitual fake construction worker? As much as I’d like to forget such a guy and disassociate myself from the experience, how many habitual fake construction workers could there be out there? (Excluding the dude from The Village People.) So, I clicked on the story, and there he was — Calvin.
Calvin and I go back to around 2005, give or take a year. A name like that sticks with you, to the point in which you assume it’s fake in the first place. Especially when the guy who owns it is a professional scammer.
I was headed to an Indians game, if memory serves me correctly, and, while driving alone, had just gotten off the highway at East 9th and Carnegie. Stuck in line at the stoplight, I noticed a guy in a neon green construction vest — the kind the pros wear — inquiring with each car around me. When he finally got to me and my now-rolled down passenger-side window, he quickly explained that his car had broken down and he needed a few bucks to get home.
Now, if this had occurred a month or so ago, the story would have ended there, if not earlier. I’ve read one too many other startling local news headlines over the years to know better. But at that time it didn’t seem that odd to help out another human being, to the point in which you begrudgingly allowed him into your car to stop at the bank machine up the street nearest to the Huntington Building parking garage. After all, there were plenty of people around me, including a security guard within view of the ATM.
So, I withdrew 20 bucks and gave it to smooth-talking Calvin before parting ways. By the time I had parked my car, I kind of figured I had been taken, but it was only $20. No big deal … until a year or so later when one of my co-workers at downtown-based Questex Media came into the office one day and shared how he had just literally chased a guy down the street trying to get back the 20 bucks he had given him in a previous encounter. The culprit’s name? You guessed it.
Ten years later I wonder how many of you have also met Calvin. The Mentor police (as well as a few other local departments) certainly have. They arrested him this month (for the second time this year) on charges of begging and theft after he had been caught asking drivers for money at Reynolds Road and Industrial Park Boulevard in Mentor. According to police, he was dressed in full construction worker gear, including a hard hat, fluorescent vest, and flashlight. He had also stolen an adult magazine from a nearby gas station.
The irony of the article was learning that Calvin’s real name is … Calvin J. Honey. Yes, the 49-year-old guy from Cleveland whose life apparently has revolved around deception uses his real name in the act. I guess you just can’t spell “honesty” without H-o-n-e-y.
The truth is I’d still like to wring the man’s neck, much like my colleague at Questex had wanted to do years ago. But in this day and age, if you’re approached by a panhandling construction worker, it’s probably safer to save your money for your own Honey and run like Calvin Hill before you lose your Calvin Kleins (or more).
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