Can I just buy some stamps?
January 23, 2011 1 Comment
Part 3: Good Bye, Humberto…
On our last day in Moyogalpa, we sat patiently in our hotel lobby. We knew that the ferry would blow its horn when it was time to board. We would sit in the shade of the garden-like hotel and then head into the sun and humidity only when the boat was boarding its passengers.
Humberto, who had never even glanced at us in days, now began a conversation.
Humberto: Where are you from?
Me: We are from America.
Humberto: How long are you traveling?
Me: I’m traveling for only a few months, Jeff has half a year.
Humberto: (shrugs) Oh.
He then looked back to his magazine as though we had never talked. I seized the moment; this was my first “conversation” with him and I was quite curious to know a bit about him. I thought of something to say to keep the conversation alive.
Me: How is business?
Humberto: Not good.
Me: (thinking – no kidding), “Why is that?”
Humberto: Him (he motioned with his head towards the Bahiha Restaurant and Hotel).
Me: What do you mean, how does he affect your business?
Humberto: He takes all the customers.
Oh, I see where this is going. I felt like a cat about to snatch a mouse. Jeff sat back with a big grin knowing what was about to transpire.
Me: Why do you think that is? (I tried to hide my sarcasm)
Humberto: Because he cheats.
This comment took me by surprise. “He cheats?” I thought, “What does he mean?”
Me: Humberto, what do you mean he cheats?
Humberto: Look at him, how he is nice to those people, he doesn’t even know them.
Me: What’s wrong with being nice to someone? Especially your customers?
Humberto: Why should you be nice to your customers? So that they will buy from you? This is dishonest. He doesn’t like those people [his customers], he just pretends to like them so that they will buy from him.
Me: I don’t understand. What is wrong with being nice to someone? If you meet someone in the street are you rude to them or are you nice to them?
Humberto: That is different, someone in the street isn’t trying to buy from you. When you are nice to a customer it is like offering them a bribe to buy from you.
Wow, it made absolutely no sense to me. I tried to look at it through the eyes of a man who lived through a…dictatorship regime. I suppose showing any form of “customer service” whether that be a smile, a friendly attitude or just good service was viewed as decadence…this guy actually believes that being courteous to your customers is a form of social bribery…