The Three Creepiest People You'll Meet While Traveling6:08 PM
#1.The Self-Appointed Guide
One dull Saturday afternoon in Germany, I decided to take advantage of a cheap train ticket and take a day trip to Nuremberg. After all, it was only an hour away, and said to be quite beautiful, as well as being a truly cultural experience. Plus, it just happened to be the nearest source of Starbucks... not that this was by any means a motivating factor. After a short train ride, I hopped off only to realize that I'd left my cell phone on board. Quickly running back to my now vacant seat, I began to look around for it when, to my horror, the train doors slammed shut and a voice announced from the loud speaker "Next stop, Munich!" Sheepishly deciding to find another seat far away from the mocking glances of my former neighbors, I settled in for another two hour train ride. Sure enough, when I arrived in Munich it was well after dark. Deciding to make the most of my accidental adventure, I wandered about the city, taking pictures of fabulous cathedrals and extravagant Christmas decorations. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man approached me asking if I knew the way to a certain restaurant. Judging by his French accent that he was just as much a stranger as I, I told him I couldn't be of much help to him as I'd only just arrived. Unfortunately, he took this as an invitation to lead me around for the rest of the evening. I soon found out he wasn't lost at all, only hoping to pick up on some innocent tourist. Choosing to see it as an opportunity to talk about Jesus to someone I never normally would have met led to a lively debate that was squelched after he announced his intentions of taking me home for the night. I replied by asking directions to the train station. I never was one for missionary dating. Finally, Maurice Chevalier gave up on trying to get me to stay with him and said he'd take me to the station himself. Reluctantly I agreed. About five minutes into our journey however, I realized he was taking me to another part of town that I'd never seen before. Confronting him, I asked where exactly he thought we were going. "To my place" he shrugged innocently. I demanded that he take me to the station or leave. He apologized half-heartedly and showed me the way, apparently not wanting to deal with an irate American female. Only afterwards did I realize I'd nearly reenacted a scene out of "Taken."
#2. The One with the Vendetta
If you are an American reading this, you might be surprised to hear that not everybody in the world likes us. It's shocking, I know. During the course of my travels, I've been accused of being everything from incurably lazy, unbelievably stupid, to an evil oil monger. Most of these accusations have come from complete strangers. I generally keep my oil mongering to a minimum whilst abroad. Knowing my nationality can be a source of contention, I generally avoid the subject unless fairly certain I'm in friendly company. Sometimes however, it just comes up. One unfortunate incident occurred innocently enough. While sitting at a bus stop, I began a conversation with a sweet old woman. Ascertaining that I was some kind of foreigner, she inquired about my heritage. I replied that I was originally from California. She stared at me in confusion having never heard of the place. A young man sitting between the two of us quickly explained to her that that was in America. As if I had flipped a switch, this seemingly harmless little old lady quickly became an enraged assailant. To the obvious dismay and discomfort of the boy between us, she heatedly began to inform me that I had bombed her country, her city, and had single-handedly destroyed her hometown. Other bystanders casually scooted away as I tried to quietly explain that actually it was the British Lancaster pilots who technically had bombed her town but she wouldn't hear it. Guess you can't win them all.
#3. The Green Card Hunter
When you're poor and in Europe, there's nothing like hitting up the local Turkish kebab shop for your weekly dose of protein. With huge spits of different flavors of unidentified meat, spinning in a whirl of carnivorous delight, it's just the thing for a splitting lingual headache. Unfortunately, these exotic lamb shanks come at a price, and I don't mean Euros. The moment a female foreigner walks into one of these kebab shops, she can be sure that if she is willing (perhaps even if she's not) she can walk out with not only the most transcendent of take away cuisine, but an Arab husband to boot! A typical conversation might go something like this,
"You not from here. What you like on kebab?"
"No I'm not. I'd like some lettuce, tomatoes..."
"Where you from? You from America? You American girl, yes?"
Girl smiles awkwardly while eyeing exit but is still drawn in by spinning meat of glory.
"Yes. That's right. I'm from America."
Man humphs, looks female up and down, while shaving carcass of unknown creature. Girl starts to imagine self as spinning carcass being shaved and sold.
"You want tzatziki sauce with that?"
On what? Shakes self out of revery.
"Where you from in America? You want to marry me?" gives toothless grin.
"Hah! Tempting but you wouldn't fit in my suitcase." Smiles in terror, grabs kebab, and runs for life.
Obviously there are a lot of interesting characters you'll meet while traveling. Some runners up to this list would have to be: people who live on trains, tourist scammers, questionable accordion players, and, shady street performers. On the whole, if you're safe, aware of your surroundings, and not easily taken in, you just might travel the world and live to tell the tale!