Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Outruded

Our family loves taking holidays.
And for a simple country family from Southern Alberta, we have managed to cover a good portion of the globe.
We have had wonderful experiences.
Sunsets over the Mediterranean.
Fresh bratwurst in an open-air mall in Frankfurt.
Moving church services in an old cathedral in Cork.
A wild bus ride through the streets of London.
The smell of the dust in the air on a hot afternoon in Turkey.
The bustle on the streets in Paris.
But, sometimes, like everyone who travels, we have . . . 'adventures'.
Let me explain . . .
We were touring one of the great cities in Europe.
And enjoying seeing things that for us, had existed only in pictures.
We wandered into a very popular tourist site.
And were instantly accosted by a small, but determined group of 'entrepreneurs'.
These people had made little bracelets and were anxious to make a sale.
At first, it seemed as though they wanted to present you with a little gift.
They would smilingly knot one around your wrist.
And I do mean 'knot'.
Pretty.
Then stand back and loudly demand money.
Great scam.
We had seen it happen to people walking just ahead of us.
“Keep your hands tucked in!” Grant whispered urgently to the rest of us.
“Don't let them grab you!”
I should point out here that we had no intention of letting them grab us.
And, through our travels, we had learned the great art of 'obtuse and avoidance'.
The tourist's best friend.
If you don't make eye contact and pretend you don't hear, you avoid a lot of unwanted purchases.
This didn't work here.
If you looked away, a pair of enthusiastic salesmen would move alongside.
One would grab your hand and the other would tie the bracelet firmly.
There was no way of getting rid of it, short of cutting it off.
You would be forced to pay.
We managed better than most.
You learn to be agile, working on a ranch.
But two of them had converged on our youngest daughter.
An outspoken girl of 21.
She had tucked both of her hands against her body and said, “No, thank you.” And, “I'm not interested.” And, “I don't want a bracelet.” several times.
Firmly.
Then she tried to break, as politely as she could, through the closed ranks around her.
Politeness and patience were wearing thin.
And not working in the slightest.
The salesmen had resorted to trying to physically take her hands, chattering enthusiastically in their native tongue.
She shifted back and forth, eluding them.
We started towards her, intent on rescue.
We weren't needed.
Before we could reach her, she suddenly shouted loudly at the two men, “Get the hell away from me!”
Did I mention outspoken?
All heads in the square turned.
Smiles broke out on many tourist faces.
The two would-be salesmen fell back and stared at her.
Finally, one of them drew himself up and sniffed, “There is no need to be rude!”
They disappeared, taking their little bracelets with them.
There was laughter and a small smattering of applause.
Okay, it came from us, but why haggle over details?
I was proud of my daughter.
She had tried to be polite.
She had tried to be firm.
But, faced with a situation in which neither of these tactics proved effective, she became fierce.
And won the day.
This was an isolated incident.
Fortunately, one of very few negative experiences we've had in our travels.
But it proved to us that when patience and good manners don't work . . .
Good old 'country spunk' will.
Travelling?
Take a farm girl.
"I have a baguette and I know how to use it!"

17 comments:

  1. What part of NO do they not understand? Good job farm girl...good job.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm surprised that a lot of those people don't get decked. I've been almost run over by highly aggressive sales people. Years ago, a bunch of girls selling magazine subscriptions stormed onto the scene in my home town. I had to get downright ignorant and crude to get them to leave. I heard that someone in the next community called the police and had them arrested and removed. A friend of mine vacationing in the Bahamas told me he and his wife chose a hotel with a closed and 'patrolled' beach. They were astounded by a 'deserted' beach; they thought they had the run of the place---until the 'vendors' swarmed in on boats. My friends could do nothing more than duck their heads down, wrap their towels tightly around their bodies and race back to the hotel. They said it was the WORST vacation they had ever been on; they got swarmed by vendors everywhere they went. I'll stay home and banter with the telemarketers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least with telemarketers you are in control. Sort of . . .

      Delete
  3. Perhaps it is my New York City upbringing but I don't have problems being rude if politeness doesn't work. Those people are not treating you with respect. It's a two way street. But, in another country, I would hesitate, being a stranger in a strange land, I admit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sure agree with you. Try diplomacy first then sometimes you have to deal with them on a level that they understand: rudeness. Working with the public does teach you survival skills, both good and bad.

      Delete
    2. You're totally right. Two-way street. And you're also totally right about being uncomfortable expressing yourself in a foreign country. That' what those aggressive marketers were counting on, I'm sure.

      Delete
  4. Love it! That's exactly the response they deserved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And she has a baguette for back-up! :)

      Delete
  5. Yay for getting her point across. And sigh that she had to insist on it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would have had to do the same thing. I would have freaked out when they started grabbing at my hands! I believe in personal space.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I watched a woman in front of me seated with her Sunday School class of five-year-olds. One of the girls got too close and the teacher put her hands together edge to edge in front of her face. "Remember the space rule!" she told the little girl. "Oh. Right!" the girl responded. Sigh. If only everyone were taught the same things!

      Delete
  7. Oh my goodness, I can relate. My daughter-in-law and I say that those situations give us "bragging rights!" Without those bragging rights travel would not be near as fun or interesting. In Vietnam we said "Neine" and they went away, in Morrocco I heard a woman that made the mistake of making eye contact yell "shoo shoo" like you would to rid yourself of the chickens or goats. But the eye contact is the key thing.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As Philoctetes says in the classic, Hercules: Don't make eye contact!

      Delete
  8. There comes a point when politeness is no longer deserved, but it can still be hard to speak up if you are raised to be "nice" ...

    I love the picture and caption!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we all were. I could just hear my mother wincing.
      But I was sure proud of my girl! :)
      Yep. Baguettes. Not just for breakfast any more . . .

      Delete

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