The Rogue Shoe Shine Guy
I do my homework. When planning a trip
I read travel books, listen to radio podcasts
and watch travel videos, I need to get the
most "bang for the buck" from every travel
dollar. And I am a bit annoyed that this
topic was never mentioned because keeping
travelers safe from scams should be part of
a travel guide. So, in the American Homestead
Travel Guide To The World, I will let you know
about the good and the bad of places.
This is a bad.
We were walking along a street in Istanbul and
passed a mobile shoe shine guy. As he passed
us, one of his brushes fell at Mr. Wonderful's
foot and of course, he picked it up and yelled
to the guy and gave it back. The guy said, "Oh!
Thank you, you are such a gentlemen!" and
then gestured that he would give him a shoe
shine in gratitude. I took this photo and with
that another guy shows up saying he is his brother
and wants to know where we are from. I say,
"America." He says, "Oh America! We love
America!" and motions that I should put my
shoe up on his wooden bench, I told him I didn't
want someone to touch my feet but he insisted.
He then went into a speech about how poor he
is and his kids need money. About this time Mr.
Wonderful's shoe shine was done and guy #1 is
wanting 20 lira for the shine. Now to put this into
perspective, we had just had lunch from a stand
at the Egyptian Market, we had a delicious kofte
sandwich with a drink for 6 lira. So, 20 lira was
an astounding price to ask. Wonderful said no way
and gave him some money and we left and we were
so angry to have been in this situation.
That night at dinner with Sumi & Avnish, Mr. W
was telling this story and Avnish said it had
happened to them twice that day. Oh my gosh!
Until that moment I knew we had been scammed
by these 2 individuals but I didn't know this was
a common scam of Istanbul. And that is when I
became angry with the writers and producers of
all the travel guides and shows I had read and
listened to. This is important information that
travelers need to know!
I don't want you to think that every shoe shine
guy in Istanbul is a scam artist. Not true at all,
there are many legitimate guys with these big
brass set-ups. They charge 5 lira and give you
a very good shoe shine.
I must admit I had a little revenge fantasy
rolling around in my head. If we came upon
this scam again, I was going to pick up the
brush and walk away with it, when the guy
came after it I would say, "This? You want
this brush? It is 20 lira! Yes, my friend,
where you from?"
Perhaps luckily, it didn't happen again...