Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Should A Sucker Be Given An Even Break?


P.T Barnum once said “Never give a sucker an even break.”

(Here is a link to the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut.)

Is this a correct assertion of how a sucker should be treated?

Let’s consider the case of this blogger as the sucker at the Men’s Wearhouse.

I needed a tuxedo to attend the annual Black Tie Gala of the United Negro College Fund.

My wife said go get a basic tuxedo and whatever you do, don’t get a tuxedo with tails.

I went to the store.  I did not want to be there. I just wanted to get measured for the thing and go home.

I told the man at the store that I wanted the most basic generic tuxedo he had in stock.

He did not offer a suggestion. He did not say much at all. He just handed me a book of pictures of tuxedos.

I just wanted out of that place. I picked a tuxedo I thought was okay.

It cost $120. As it turned out, this was near the top of the range for tuxedos at the Men’s Wearhouse.

And it had tails.

Though I did see one other man at that dinner wearing tails.

My wife simply shook her head at me.   

The guy at the Men’s Wearhouse knew I rarely rent formal wear and I just wanted to be done with it all.  How hard is it to guess that a man in a clothing store wants to make the shopping as brief as possible?   

I’m pretty sure that if situation had been reversed I would have helped the customer out.

Let me be clear—This was my fault. I was not paying attention to what I was doing.

But I’d been up-front in stating what I wanted and this guy let me walk out of there with an order for a tuxedo with tails as if I was going to dinner with the Queen of England. 

Should a sucker be given an even break?

I think he or she should be given an even break.

While I have a measure of admiration for the successful huckster in a rough world, it is not good to take advantage of people even if they are making it easy for you to do so.

Life is already hard enough without always being on the lookout for an easy mark.  

December 12, 2007 - Posted by | Houston, Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. I don’t know that you were a sucker or that the sales clerk was looking for an easy mark. He probably was giving you an even break in the sense that he probably treats all customers the same way.

    You were both– as you acknowledge– just being lazy.

    A different P.T. Barnum quote might be in order here: “I was always ready to concoct fun, or lay plans for moneymaking, but hard work was decidedly not in my line.”

    Comment by r spacedark | December 12, 2007

  2. Comrade Spacedark—

    Barnum would have a new quote for bloggers today who work hard for no money or little money.

    If the salesman was being lazy I don’t know. I think that after you’ve dealt with people over the years you have a sense of what people are. He saw me as the easy mark I was. That took at least a bit of thought. He did not have to work hard because I was making it easy for him. He was smart enough to do nothing while I tossed money out the window.

    Thanks for the comment and for taking time away from your goal of turning Amarillo into the liberal utopia it will someday become.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 12, 2007

  3. I dont understand how any blame can be claimed by the clerk. By your own admission YOU PICKED IT OUT? It’s alllllll Your fault knuckle head. However it does say a lot about your ability to make dicisions for yourself. maby next time you need to decide something you should just let your wife or your liberal government do the thinking

    Comment by Davis | December 13, 2007

  4. Hmmm….Letting my wife do all the thinking would be easier now that you mention it. And maybe I’ll get my chance for a liberal government to do my thinking for me after the next election.

    All I can say is that I don’t take advantage of people just because I’m given the chance—Even if the person I’m dealing with is as dumb as I am.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 13, 2007

  5. Davis,

    In civilized society, we share responsibilities. Ideally, we delegate chores to experts in specific fields. When a person walks into a store, she or he should be able to have a certain expectation of expertise on the part of the people working there. They should be able to help the customer pick out an item that he or she might be uneducated about.

    I realize conservatives believe that “smaller is better” and that policy is best delegated to ever-lower levels until each person is responsible for himself in a total repudiation of social contracts that are thousands of years old. I also realize that conservatives have demonstrated that they do not deem it necessary to delegate much of anything– even the presidency of the United States– to experts.

    How’s that working out for you?

    Comment by r spacedark | December 13, 2007

  6. When I was young and worked the carnivals we were told that all people are marks. we were encouraged to the get the mentally handicaped folk. they would say someones is going to get their money it might as well be you. That was one of the defining moments on what not to do in life. with my parents there were many. yes suckers deserve a beak but used car lots and tux rental shops are not where you are going to get them.

    Comment by Bill Brady | December 13, 2007

  7. Spacederk & William—Thank you both for such fine comments. Nothing I can add.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 14, 2007

  8. Spacedark: “Ideally, we delegate chores to experts in specific fields. When a person walks into a store, she or he should be able to have a certain expectation of expertise on the part of the people working there.”

    That’s the mistake of going to Men’s Wearhouse for a tuxedo — tuxedos are just a sideline for them. Next time, find a store where formal wear is the main business… and let them know what you want. You could have rented a tuxedo for about $50.

    Comment by Robert | December 20, 2007

  9. Robert—Thanks for the helpful suggestion and for the comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | December 21, 2007

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: