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.