Scam, Bam, Thank You Ma’am!

You’ve goat to be kidding Me

My Corona, when you gonna stop, give it up? I am clearly using old song lyrics to express my thoughts, it’s gotten bad. I am just so over COVID.

Time and money always seem to be the big two reasons why people say they can’t travel. I find, to some degree, we are always in control of these. Don’t hate, let me explain. I managed to travel while working minimum-wage jobs. And since Canada gives 10 vacation days per year minimum (ouch, that was painful to type). I would always end up quitting my job because 10 days is nothing. Especially since flying 3 hours in any direction gets to you the USA or more of Canada. Not exactly foreign destinations. I am not saying this lifestyle is for everyone but I am saying if you actually wanted to travel, you can.

Real reasons not to travel are things like wars, political unrest, natural disasters and what have you. I am not daft enough to chase tornadoes. But nobody has ever told me I wasn’t physically allowed to travel at all like the government has been doing now because of this stupid virus. I’m, like everyone else, still trying to come to grips with it. Have you ever noticed that the word tornadoes could just as well have been pronounced torna does? I am clearly not handling this isolation well.

It’s not like I am being productive and writing every day because of COVID. I sharpened pencil crayons this morning for 35 minutes and I don’t even draw. This rant had nothing to do with anything so cue the 180.

Scammy Scam Scams

Everyone has their travel nightmare fraud stories. They often involve money, that’s why they are such a sensitive topic for me. I won’t forget my first swindle and I still find 10 years is too soon to be speaking about such sadness.

When I was in Prague, in 2010, I was wandering the Jewish quarter when it started raining (every good scam story starts with rain) and so I headed back towards my hostel. A guy came out to the street from a cozy-looking shop and asked if I wanted tea. My cup of tea is all tea. I adore it. Naturally, as though he knew me on a personal level with my tea obsession, I agreed to go inside. Dripping water onto the floor, I went to the register while he went into the back to get me a tea to go. He comes back with a stupid Styrofoam cup. I say stupid not because of the harm Styrofoam does to the environment, although now that adds another reason to add this moment to the hate list. I say stupid because the cup was so damn small and it burned my man-hands. Floating in the hot water was a generic Lipton Yellow Label tea bag. I know I am a pretentious tea drinker. But giving me Yellow Label is like giving a crack addict flour. It sucks, I will complain in my head but I will still drink it because I am freezing at this point. Now, you must be thinking Yellow Label in a Styrofoam cup isn’t so bad Corrine and I would grudgingly agree EXCEPT THAT STUPID POOR EXCUSE FOR A CUP OF TEA COST ME OVER 160 koruna (their money sounds awfully like this current virus), which is over 6 euros!

I knew, as most people would begin to realise, that this was a scam. You get that it can’t be right feeling. I began to pull out my wallet to pay as I worked out the exchange rate in my head. I had a sip from the cup before he told me the price, so I couldn’t refuse it. What ALWAYS happens in these situations is you think I could be wrong. I could say something in accusation to the guy who saw I was drenched in the street, just needing a cup of tea and could be wrong. And that is why I never do. Maybe it is the Canadian politeness but in all the times where I knew I was being ripped off, I never spoke up or threatened to withhold money. This will be my downfall in life, I just sense it.

The ole overpriced, trash food

I have been deceived by food establishments before. It was the Autumn of ’15, the setting, Bruges, Belgium. We wandered around and my appetite began to grow. We passed by a few okay-looking places but the food choices weren’t what I was craving. We arrive at the main square and I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days (in reality, 3 hours). There is a packed Italian pasta joint. My stomach did the thinking that fateful evening so we sat. After a rude waiter handed us the menu, I recall a sudden clarity. The prices were so outrageous I was no longer hungry. But since we already ordered a bevvy as we were seated, we continued the charade. The food arrived and it was nearly inedible. It still hurts to talk about it. I take maybe 20% responsibility for this whole situation. I should have known anything near main squares is overpriced: food, souvenirs or otherwise and yet I still waited in line, sat down ordered off that gross menu like an arrogant fool.

More on scams

Weirdly enough, in Asia when locals overcharge for a taxi or tuk tuk I am not mad in the slightest because I am expecting it. I only get angry when I don’t see it coming. I find it extra slimy because you trust that the stranger serving you a lemon ice smoothie in Amalfi wouldn’t charge you 7 euros for something so rubbish. But they do and it happens often and it makes me sad. I think I have typed this before but if a place treats me well and is delicious I will for sure go back to it. Treat me like shit and it will ruin my entire day because it is despicable and these things enrage me.

I don’t need to hash up a plate of this negativity while we are all in self-isolation.

Something a little more light. Sometimes, as all frugal people do, when you are at a main attraction, you will eavesdrop on tour guides describing the site from a distance so you don’t have to pay for the tour. I did this in Toledo, Spain. I sat in a shadowed corner for 45 minutes or so, near some monument. This isn’t a scam per se because it is funny. Scams are never funny. This story is funny because the person doesn’t know they are scamming by giving the wrong information.

The first tour guide walks near enough so I can hear and goes on and on about how the monument went unfinished because there was a river beneath that caused the foundation to crack, halting progress. Twenty minutes later, I creep by the next guide who said it was unfinished because the structure was made with materials that were too heavy so they couldn’t continue. As I pretend to look at the sky, another guide came around to explain that the reason was that the church (or whoever) ran out of money and couldn’t complete it. Not until that moment did I realise that any of the countless free tours I went on could have accidentally misinformed me. I don’t mind because I have a memory like Swiss cheese when it comes to historical facts and stories.

Who stole my gel pen in grade 5, however, I remember it like it was today. It was supposed to be in my pencil crayon box and I noticed while I was sharpening them that it was gone. Thanks Andrea.

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