Well, we had a pretty fun night last night. I was hanging out on Pizza St. with my friend Tom, waiting for a bunch of our other friends to show up, when this dude heard us speaking in English and promptly invited himself over to our table. Actually, the whole thing was my mistake since I gave him permission to sit. In cases like that, I should really just leave things to Tom who is better at telling people to piss off than I am.
Half the deal with traveling/living abroad is allowing a bit more slack for expats. When you’re in foreign nations, it’s always refreshing to hear your native language…well, at least until you become fluent in the foreign language. People are kind of goofy and vulnerable when they can’t speak, and yes, that means people are easy to take advantage of (so it’s really to your advantage to learn whatever foreign language or languages your school teaches).
Anyway, this guy sat down and gave us this sob story about how he was hanging out in the center of Lima and some dude approached him with a small bag of cocaine. Despite his claim (his name was George) that he waved off the dude with the coke, a couple police officers approached him, arrested him, and threw him in the back of their squad car in handcuffs.
Now, just to interject, as George told us this story, I started to get the sinking feeling that this imbecile was going to ask us for some money. That’s how cynical I am. I don’t even believe it when expats give me sob stories in foreign nations. But folks, it’s the oldest trick in the book. You lock in on some people who look to be American, tell them a sob story, then ask for cash. People LIVE on that little formula in South America.
So, according to George, the cops drove him around to some dark alley, put a bag of white powder in his backpack, and told him that he was going to do 2 years in Peru unless he paid them $1,000.
Now, a story like this isn’t totally beyond belief. There are a bunch of corrupt cops down here, everybody knows that. What everybody says to do in a situation like this is demand that the cops take you to the station and file formal charges. This is essentially calling their bluff, and they purportedly let you go on the spot. However, I could see how this would be super intimidating for people who don’t speak any Spanish. It’s also pretty amusing how the majority of the “true and moral people” in the world don’t have the slightest hesitation to pay the bribe when placed in a situation like this (people are so full of shit).
Well, George didn’t have the $1,000, but he gave them all the money in his pocket, plus all his baggage which included, so he claimed, a $3,000 camera. Apparently they left him with his debit card, because he had cash there on Pizza St. (which kind of blows a fair portion of his credibility).
So he was just sitting there drinking Pisco Sour after Pisco Sour getting totally hammered and calling everybody a “douche.” He played poker with us for a while, and was one of those guys who “forgot” at the end of the game that we agreed the buy in was S/. 10. It was funny because he’d initially thrown S/. 50 on the table to pay for his buy-in, but we told him to take it back because we trusted him. Then when he lost, he couldn’t remember ever having agreed (but by then he’d spent all his money on Pisco Sours).
Oh, as we played, he told us about how rich he was. Apparently he was worth 20 million dollars and had an apartment in New York even though he worked in California as a Math teacher. He also had a private jet. I asked him what his parents had done so that he could inherit so much money (that made Tom snort with laughter because it is a pretty insulting thing to ask, but the guy answered without the slightest hesitation that his parents had been gastroenterologists or some damn thing).
We kept asking him what time his flight was, and he kept responding with “tomorrow” apparently oblivious to the fact that the flight could be at 12:05 AM. Anyway, he eventually wandered off to get some more money or something so we could make our escape.
It was sort of funny though, by the end of the poker game he was so drunk he was kind of dozing off between hands. He’d wake up and “check.”
In all honesty, not one part of me felt bad about sending him off into the streets of the Lima blitzed out of his mind. He was clearly a small-time con artist who banks on other’s pity to get by (pity and greed since he told us he’d send all of us a 55″ TV). He was a pretty easy mark as he stumbled off into the night, and I highly doubt he made it to the airport to catch his flight. But apparently that was what he wanted since he kept drinking drink after drink. Who am I to tell people that they shouldn’t wander around strange foreign cities drunk out of their mind and unable to speak the language? Maybe he gets his kicks out of getting robbed and abused internationally, it would be a show of intolerance for me to try to prevent that.
For those of you who haven’t already, make sure you do me a favor a pick up my books Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword over at the Rhemalda Bookshop! If you happen to write a review somewhere, please let me know!