Entry 40: Thanks For the Help
Believe it or not, there are people who would do you harm; verbally, physically or spiritually. Some commit these offenses with premeditation – an ugly situation. Others may cause you harm in a more innocent and unsuspecting manner. In fact, when doing so, the latter truly believe in their own minds that they’ve done something good rather than bad (I’ve had the subsequent arguments to prove this). These slippery-tongued, so-called do-gooders are the bus drivers, waiters and waitresses, newspaper and souvenir vendors, department store guards and any other local passerby that one may encounter. They’ll tell you with the utmost certainty the correct way to go. They won’t even flinch. They’ll provide opening and closing times even before you finish your question. Directions and accompanying information appears so precise from their mouths, and their countenances seem so reassuring, you’ll think that the god of good information has smiled upon you. Then, you walk away saying, ´thank you very much for your help.´ Many times, the hidden problem that has just sprouted is that they really did not know what they were talking about and the information just shared sends you into the land of confusion, frustration and wasted time. Follow their directions for just a short time and you’ll come to understand. They don’t even know me so what motive could they have for lying to me? Why, then, do they lie? I believe it’s a way that some people quickly empower themselves, especially if you’re playing the foreigner in distress. Suddenly, that doorman, vendor or police officer becomes the host country’s anointed tourist information center. Perhaps they would feel embarrassed if they could not offer any advice, regardless of its accuracy. The exchange is made. You confidently go on your way with your new, ill-received information and he/she remains behind with some sort of ill-gotten satisfaction. Beware of the friendly information façade. The smiles, finger-pointing and geysers of free advice look good on the outside but, behind the smokescreen may be someone who really doesn’t know. Yes, I understand that I am asking you for something but it would be better if he/she could just say, ´Sorry, I can’t help you.´ Trust me, I won’t hold it against you. I’ll even thank you for telling me the truth and not wasting my time. Unless you have plenty of time to spare and want to practice your foreign language skills, or the lengths of your patience, I suggest investing in an updated guidebook, map and phrase book.