If You Like It, Don’t Let Him Put A String On It

, , , , , , | Legal | July 12, 2020

I am a French Canadian woman visiting Paris as a tourist. I am traveling by myself. I have never boarded a plane in my life before. I have never even set foot into an airport. Unfortunately, between my anxiety due to the novelty of the experience and turbulences, I’ve felt sick during most of the flight and have gotten no rest.

Adding jetlag to the equation, I’m far from my best upon arrival, so I decide to take it easy and explore the area close to my hotel on foot. I head for the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur and start climbing the long stairs in front. I try to figure out where I am supposed to enter as I am climbing, but I see no indication. A group of young men is sitting in the grass. One of them gets up and walks confidently towards me, so confidently that I’m starting to wonder if he is a volunteer for the Basilica.

He addresses me in several languages for some reason while I’m trying to figure out why he is there. He then makes a sign for me to put one hand in front of me, which I do. He gets what seems like a simple sewing thread spool out of his pocket and makes a gesture to put it around my middle finger.

As if hit by lightning, I suddenly get extremely uncomfortable at the idea of a stranger attaching anything to my body. Without thinking, I bolt away. He calls me back, but I only glance behind to make sure he is not following me while scrambling away from him as fast as I can.

The experience leaves me completely puzzled. I later ask a French friend in Paris if he has any idea what that was about and he is as clueless as I am.

Five years later, I am browsing videos at random on the Internet, from dashcam scams to tourist scams. I finally stumble on an intriguing video. It turns out that this was a variant of the “Friendship Bracelet Scam” in Montmartre, only in my case it was apparently a ring variation. If I had let him string my finger, he would have harassed me for money or one of his friends could have tried to steal from me. At last, I can make sense of what took place. As far as I can tell, this scam had yet to be widely documented at the time of my trip.

I am slightly mad at myself that I let him even approach me. I use an anti-theft bag whenever I know I might find myself distracted in a crowded area at home and take even more precautions when I travel without anyone to rely on. However, I am also very relieved that my instincts kicked in just in time to keep me out of harm’s way even if it took place in a moment I was, understandably, not as alert as usual.

The lesson I derived from the experience is that I’m likely to be most vulnerable right upon arrival. Two years later, a fake and insistent taxi driver in a New York airport also got me confused before I ever got a chance to see the multiple written warnings everywhere, but again, I escaped him and gathered my thoughts in a restroom. I’ve yet to have anything unsettling happen to me after the first day of a trip!

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Maybe She Should Take Half The Normal Dose Of That?

, , , | Right | May 29, 2020

I’m a customer, waiting to have my prescription filled. One of my medicines is called UVdose.

Near me, another customer, an elderly lady, is asking for the same one.

Lady: “Oh, yes, I forgot! I need a box of overdose!”

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Entitlement Isn’t Just For Young People

, , , , , , | Friendly | April 6, 2020

I am on the bus today heading home. Some seats are marked for disabled, elderly people, but everyone can sit there, especially if some are free. A mum and her daughter are sitting on these seats but there is one free just in front of me. An elderly lady enters and stands in front of the child.

I’m usually very polite with people, especially elders.

Elderly Lady: “I want this seat! Give it to me.”

Me: “You have a seat there, madam.

I point to the empty seat in front of me.

Elderly Lady: “No, I want this one!”

The kid stands up silently and the old lady literally pushes her to sit.

Mum: “Please, could you at least let my child move out of the way?”

Elderly Lady: “She should move faster!”

That makes me really mad.

Me: “You should be ashamed, madam. You know what you are? An old hag!

Elderly Lady: “…”

And you know what? She was getting off at the next stop one minute later!

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Strangling Some Manners From You

, , , , , | Working | January 7, 2020

(I am just a regular customer waiting for checkout in a well-known French hypermarket. A young lady with two young kids at the cashier has just finished packing her stuff and moved to the side, so I can proceed to checkout. One of her kids starts crying. That’s nothing extraordinary — it happens, right? The real problem here is the cashier, too busy talking with her coworkers to do her job correctly. She says the following about the kid:)

Cashier: “Oh, God, can’t we do something about it? I don’t know, like… strangle him?!”

(I honestly can’t believe what I just heard, so I give her the “Did you just seriously…” kind of look, which makes her realize that something is actually wrong. Checkout is complete, so I pack my stuff, take my change — forcing myself not to give a sarcastic “have a nice day” to this disrespectful cashier — and just leave. On my way out, the cashier has the nerve to yell at me:)

Cashier: “Nobody taught you to say, ‘Thank you.’?!”

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Unfiltered Story #180406

, , | Unfiltered | December 22, 2019

(I’m the funny customer in this story. I’m in a place where you can find the best cookies in Paris. Also, I’m in my thirties, yet I’m incredibly shy and awkward.)

Me: “Hello.”

Seller: “Hello.”

Me: “May I have a cookie, please?”

Seller: “Of course. Which one?”

Me: “A milk chocolate chips one, please.”

(I guess the lady didn’t hear. She smiles.)

Seller: “Yes?”

(I blush and smile awkwardly.)

Me: “Maybe I didn’t ask the right way. This happens to me all the time. Ok, I’m ready for your most scatterbrained clients list ever. I go back in time and I ask again. May I have a cookie, please?”

Seller: “Of course. Which one?”

Me: “A milk chocolate chips one, please.”

Seller: “Here you are. Would you like something else?”

Me: “No, thank you very much. Have a great day!”

(I grin and leave, feeling incredibly child-like and awkward. I guess this lady was probably too polite to put this on ‘Not always right’, so I’ll do this myself!)