Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Too Big For My Bathing Suit (Continued)"

I‘ve been told I had engage in the unfamiliar practice of bribery so that our beach chairs would be set up and waiting for us every morning.  I now had to do what was required – descend to that nefarious netherworld and quietly pay somebody off.

Being a first-timer in this dark and alien underworld raised immediate questions.  First and foremost, how much do you have to shell out to a person before they legitimately feel taken care of?  Forget any exact numbers – ballpark, knowing this was essential for avoiding the “Embarrassment Factor.”  What if my “taking care of” payment was dismissingly puny, or even worse, egregiously over the top – a C-Note for a book of matches? 

What exactly was the etiquette?  Where were the guidelines?  Take my hand!  I’m a “Stranger in a Sleazyland!”
My only hope was for professional guidance.  I had to pick exactly the right person to ask, someone who wouldn’t be offended when I walked up to them and said, “I know you bribe people.  Could you teach me how to do it?”  I wouldn’t put it that way, of course, but they could still take offense.

“You calling me a gangster?” 

Considering my selection carefully, I landed on the friendliest guy in the hotel.  I knew he was the friendly because the man even talked to me.  “Friendly Guy” had been Christmasing at this hotel for more than fifty years, and it was clear he was experienced in the “taking care of people” arrangement.  His chairs were in place when he got off the airplane.

Catching him lunching, I made my way to his table and, too nervous for small talk, I dove immediately in.  “If you want your chairs out there… what is it… how much…“taking care of” …what do you do?”   Not too articulate, but throw in some gestures, and he got the idea.

“Friendly Guy” was extremely helpful.  As I’d already learned, a payment was required at the beginning of the trip, an amount “Friendly Guy” then duplicated at the end of the trip.  What was that amount, I shakily inquired?  He mentioned a figure, hefty but not “choke a horse.”  Having received the information I needed, I gratefully thanked “Friendly Guy” and I left him to his lunch.  I was ready to dive in.

But I didn’t.  I had done enough hard stuff for one day, talking to a stranger.  I was officially worn out. 

For me, it took great energy to go up to a virtual stranger and ask advice about bribing people.  And on the same day, I was expected to approach another stranger and give them money in exchange for future services they may or may never deliver?  That was unquestionably too much.

It would have to wait till tomorrow.

As will the conclusion to fthis story.


JED said...

Boy, you sound like me! I remember traveling with a group of people for work. We were returning from Africa and stopped in Paris overnight waiting for a flight the next morning. We all went to a restaurant that was packed. We waited and waited for a table (there must have been six or seven of us) and there was no place to sit. I was trying to get one of the women of our group to notice me and thought I'd be a big shot and get us a table. I was shaking and nervous because I'd never done it before but my desire for this woman to notice me was greater than my fear. My French was horrible and the Maitre D' didn't speak English very well. I handed him a large Franc note and tried to explain why I was giving him money. I thought he'd been through this before but the look on his face made me even more afraid. It was a mixture of shock and anger. Maybe I insulted him or maybe I had been too obvious and he was afraid the owner had seen it. He looked like he was going to pass out. I didn't know what to do and tried to explain some more but I think I was just making it worse. And I wasn't sure that maybe, in my broken French, I was asking him to give my dog a bath or something.

He kept holding the money in his hand so I just grabbed it back and slunk back to my friends. I remember that the woman I was trying to impress had seen the whole thing and thought it was funny. So, in the end end, she did notice me and we talked a good bit that evening but mostly about how inept I was. Nothing much ever came of our conversation that evening and I never tried to bribe anyone again.

N. Cred said...