Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back Off, Buster!

The other day I ran into something unusual: a couple of obnoxious street vendors. Those of you who have lived in Burkina might be tempted to laugh at this statement. After all, aren’t most if not all street vendors in Burkina obnoxious? Well, I guess it depends on your perspective and your tolerance level :)  From my standpoint, I'd say that many of them can be persistent. But it isn't until they turn nasty that I’d call them obnoxious!

A friend and I were downtown looking for a place to exchange American dollars, something we found to be challenge on a holiday weekend. As we were walking from my truck to yet another exchange place, two vendors latched on to us and began to pester us to have a look at their products. Normally, if I smile politely, wave them off, and say, “No, thanks,” they take the hint and leave us alone. Not these two. In fact, they were so close to us that we were nearly tripping over them.

Finally I'd had enough.  I stopped, turned around, put my hands up in front of their faces and told them bluntly to back off and leave us alone. We were NOT interested in their wares!

When we came out of the exchange place again, the two guys were still there and they began once more to follow us and harangue us. What was it with these guys?!!! Which part of NO did they not understand? Once more, I stopped, turned around, and told them to back off and leave us alone. But they wouldn’t stop.

“You can’t speak for your friend,” they said. “Just because you aren’t interested doesn’t mean your friend isn’t. Let him look at our stuff. Maybe he wants to buy something.” Up to this point, my friend had never so much as even cast a glance in their direction. I said, “No he doesn’t. He doesn’t understand French, and he isn’t interested in your stuff either.”

Then they started to get nasty. “What, are you just going to brush us off and treat us like garbage? Who do you think you are?!!!”

There’s no use arguing with people like that. I knew from experience that things would just go from bad to worse, so I just shut up and we kept walking, breathing sighs of relief when we finally reached my truck and were able to shut the doors on those two loudmouths!

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