Solve Travel Problems – Walk Away Tip
What do you do when you have difficulty with someone when traveling? Do you fight it out, yell, give in, try to come to some sort of conclusion that makes everybody happy? Do you stand in the streets pleading and begging a stranger to comply with logic and come to an agreement with you? Do you just give in and let a stranger have whatever they want just because they tell you to, because it seems like the path of least resistance?
I just walk away.
Interpersonal travel problems can often be solved this easily.
When a taxi driver, bus conductor, restaurant, or hotel tries to scam me, rip me off, demand more money than what was initially agreed upon, I pay what I rightfully owe then I turn around and walk away.
They usually don’t give chase.
A moderately priced sushi restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casas has two for one rolls every Tuesday. Half price at this restaurant is an OK price for my family to pay, so we go on Tuesdays to eat a sort of bourgeois meal, to have a little date. The waiters at this restaurant do not seem to like us too much, as it is obvious that we are just there to fully exploit their promotion: we order two of the cheapest thing on the menu, only pay for one, and don’t get a drink or anything else that would up the price and round out the deal in the restaurant’s favor.
This past Tuesday, we ordered two plates of Shitake Maki sushi roles. This restaurant is laid out in a trendy, Japanese restaurant sort of style — there are low booths that hug the walls, the tables are just low laying blocks. The furniture here has been primed for my little daughter Petra to play all over, it is all at her level. She has fun.
A condiment bottle of soy sauce falls to the floor and shatters.
A group of Israeli girls across the restaurant cheer, I give a little bow.
No big deal, it was just a cheap, disposable bottle holding a free-to-use condiment. As the waiter cleaned it up the glass shards and soupy liquid, I apologized and thought nothing of any repercussions — this stuff just happens sometimes in restaurants.
But as I went up to pay for the meal as we were getting ready to leave, the cashier informed me that I would need to pay full price for the half used condiment that we broke.
But condiments are free? If I finished the bottle by pouring its contents on my food I would not be charged, right?
I looked at the cashier as he fumbled about on a computer trying to figure out how much to charge me for the free condiment. I then quickly threw the money for the meal down on the bar in front of him, said sternly, “I will not pay for the sauce,” and walked out the door.
It was that simple. No chasing, no arguing, no trying to come to a mutually beneficial conclusion, I just walked away.
(though I did leave a small tip for the waiter, I am not completely without class)
A common sight in travel is a group of tourists arguing in the streets with a taxi driver, shop owner . . . who is, essentially, trying to rip them off. They stand there like fools and fight, trying to get the other person to see their point of view, “But you said . . .”
There is no reason to respect the authority of, or to peacefully resolve conflicts with, a stranger who is trying to steal my money. I just walk away.
Now, the above anecdote is just an example used to share this travel tip: you do not have to stand in the fray while someone is cheating you, you do not need to make someone see your point of view, just walk away. It is irrelevant if I was in right or wrong in the above circumstance — maybe you feel as if I should have paid for the soy sauce? — as the fact remains that I choose not to pay, and I followed a quick course of conflict resolution that 11 years of travel experience has taught:
I am a traveler, I don’t fight — I leave.