Turning the table on street vendors

Feb 26th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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<Would you tolerate this in your own country? I think you wouldn't>

Well you'd be wrong. I am pan-handled multiple times daily here in my home city of Seattle, way more than I have ever been in any European city.
suze is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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You're obviously much more tolerant than I (and a lot of others) am. Here in Denver, we don't tolerate agressive panhandling (i.e, by aggressive I mean following you, using obscenities, making threats, or touching you), and I suspect that if you were subject to such panhandling, you'd be right here in my corner. And don't tell me that this isn't the kind of harassment that tourists often encounter; maybe not in Paris, but I've seen it in China and Cambodia (although I can't verify the obscenities or threats in those languages), and yes, in Denver and New York and San Francisco.
I have no problems with people trying to sell you something (as in sitting or standing in the street displaying their wares), or even approaching you, as long as they take "No" for an answer. Badgering is not acceptable.
Les is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:30 AM
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Well I've never been to China or Cambodia, so I'll have to take your word for it.

But no one has ever screamed obsenities at me in Seattle or San Francisco (OK in SF they do scream them but not directed at me personally).

And I *will* most certainly also tell you that NO it is not the kind of harrassment I have ever encountered in five trips to Europe to date nor that I have ever seen other tourists experiencing.

I work in downtown Seattle in an area with tons of social service agencies, there's a load of homeless people around. You might be surprised just how tolerant I (and much of the rest of Seattle) have become.

suze is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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Bottomline... what Dave did is not funny, not at all. And perpetuates the "ugly American or Canadian" tourist stereotype.

suze is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:39 AM
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The street people who yell obscenities in large US cities like LA and SF are mentally ill.
LAwoman is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Amen, absolutely. In past decades when there were more plentiful social services there were simply less mentally ill wandering the streets left to fend for themslves. less visible to the general public.

suze is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:04 PM
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Some people are being a bit precious here. Because there are those who live on the edge as we see it doesn't mean we have to put up with being assaulted in the street. Nagging street vendors are a pain in the ****, non-nagging street vendors are part of the local colour of a place. An anecdote: a colleague of mine was taking photos in Rio de Janeiro when he was mugged, knocked to the ground and his camera taken. A few seconds later he was helped up by a vendor, handed back his camera, and when he gathered his wits he saw his assailant being 'spoken to' quite physically by other vendors. They were tired of petty crime wrecking their reputation apparently. Swings and roundabouts.
stfc is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Ok, let me clarify...

1) I am talking about the street vendors that constantly harass and follow you.

2) I'm talking about sitting at a table, having one come up, you say "no thanks" and another is standing behind the first selling the same thing and that one comes up.

3) So what is wrong with ME trying to sell my wares (a half-drunken coke) for a profit?
daveesl is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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By the way, this is where folks really need to READ posts.

I did not yell at anyone, I only tried to sell something. Yes, I followed them, as they did me. I wasn't mocking them, I was showing them how annoying they were.

By the way, I had one guy that kept on trying to sell me as I tried to sell him. It was really funny. He and I were both laughing after about 30 seconds.
daveesl is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:54 PM
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You were mocking them.
suze is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:56 PM
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They already know how annoying they are.
suze is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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What would really be the best punchline would be that Dave was busted for vending food in an unclean manner, and having no permit. I'd pay to see that.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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Christina - My boyfriend and I were accosted by the flower vendors multiple times. They try to sell you a rose when you are walking around or seated outdoors eating. I've had this happen to me in a bunch of random cities, everywhere from Key West to Chicago to Rome.
lizziea06 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:21 PM
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On the other hand I appreciate all the umbrella vendors who appear seconds after it starts to rain. I buy one for a few euro and go on my way.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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At Trevi, they are like a swarm of mosquitos - you brush one off, and another one immediately lands. The rosebud peddlers seem to particularly target only the male of a male/female couple. Two ladies - no rose. Single lady - no rose. Lady with a man- bingo!
Travelnut is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:26 PM
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The difference is that you chose to mock the vendor by using a "half-drunken bottle of coke" as your prop. That's where the demeaning aspect comes in.
Your screen name suggests some involvement with teaching English to non-English speakers. I teach English to adults. The basis of a good exchange when doing that is respect for others. If by chance, that's what you do, I find it disturbing that you couldn't figure out a better, more effective way to solve your problem. You even seem proud of getting laughs ("the tourists loved it.") I am almost surprised at myself for feeling such empathy for street vendors who approach us in cities, but your anectdote did have that effect on me.
bellastarr is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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I'm not completely insensitive but can see Dave's point. Last spring, a group of 'ethnically costumed' ladies swarmed around the picnickers at Champ de Mars (Paris), no matter that one just accosted us, her sister came up 5 minutes later. When the 2nd one walked up and said "do you speak English?", I replied, "no I do not speak English". She smirked at me and moved on to the next party over. 5 minutes later, the 3rd women approached, however I simply raised my arm and pointed as in "nope, keep walkin'.." and she made a hard left and moved on.
Travelnut is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:45 PM
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Ah, so she did move along when you made a gesture of refusal.
bellastarr is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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I travel to experience different cultures and different people. In some countries, aggressive street vending is "how it is". Not a lot of point going to those countries if you can't handle it.

Sure they can be over the top, but that's OK. There are non-offensive ways of responding, as many people here have already suggested.

One time my DW and I were walking down an Urgup street in deep conversation when a vendor pushed his nose into our faces and began bleating about selling us some brassware. My DW rounded on him, saying: "Don't you know it's rude to interrupt people when they are talking?" The young man looked taken aback for a moment, but then stepped back, began dancing up and down, yelling "And my cousin he has carpets - you want to buy?"

We lierally fell about laughing - including him. Here was someone who could take the p... out of himself, a much nicer result than us taking it out of him. We ended up having a cup of tea with him...still didn't buy anything, but that was fine.
twoflower is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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I don't agree or disagree with the OP's tactics. If it works for him then great! As I read the replies to this post I think I must be the luckiest traveler on this board. I have been to Denver,New York, San Francisco, Seattle, LA, Paris, Dubai,Amsterdam,Chicago,Dallas,DC,Phoenix, Boston and Philly plus, my friends have been to many other cities around the world. In all those cities. None of the people I know have ever lost or had their luggage stolen, Been robbed, pickpocketed, shot at, beat up, chased down the street by obnoxious aggressive vendors, Groped, Masturbated on, had to pay fines to dishonest police or any of the things you people come up with? I don't know if you guys are making those crimes up or are just very unlucky? Oh and when people are asking about Rome or Paris or Egypt or any place other than America. Please don't compare American cities to those. There is no place like America just as much as there's no place like Paris or Rome or or or or...

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