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 [...]
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.
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3679 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii
October 12, 2010, 5:43 am
Say you had already paid for the service and it was not delivered; what would you do then? For example, I asked a question on your site on the 25th of September and paid the 5 bucks you asked for but you never answered the question. In fact I have found the information elsewhere and honestly the money isn’t that big a deal.
I’ve worked in the service industry too. This isn’t the first time I encounter someone who feels justified letting others pay their way. I try not to sweat the small stuff but I guess I haven’t reached your level of equinamity yet.
If I were the restaurant owner I would happily sacrifice a bottle of soy sauce just to be rid of you.
October 21, 2010, 6:19 am
I agree with the advice of not wasting your energy to make the other person see it your way. This advice can go both ways as well, customer and service provider.
I am a bartender by trade and while there are thieving bartender, I made an honest living at that legitimate profession.
When you are a service provider of any kind, you will deal with people who want to rip you off and want something for free. I know how valuable my time is and I will not waste it arguing with a cheap skate who would not appreciate anything for free or discounted anyways, only expect it.
Whether you are a service provider or customer, remember that nothing is free. Only complimentary.
October 21, 2010, 6:26 am
oh and charging for soy sauce is bullshit too.
- October 21, 2010, 6:26 am
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