Cultural Clashes, Dramas and Dilemmas (pt 2)

Liked part 1 of this series? Here’s the exciting conclusion, this one focusing on dilemmas and dramas.

This post is set up the same way. I share the details of the situation I found myself in and pose the “What would you do?” question. You share your answer and then, later, I’ll most likely share what it was that I did.

Note: Five of the situations (6 in all, counting Pt 1) are real and happened as described (names, countries, cultures changed to protect the innocent and guilty). One is a hybrid of sorts with a few modifications.

1. Disabled Tour Guide–To Tip or Not?

It’s your final day (in Jerusalem) before returning home from a long trip to the Middle East. You pay way too much money for an “Israel in a Day” sort of tour, which you share with a couple from S. Africa.

Along the way, you realize that your tour guide, a friendly Palestinian man with a warm smile and friendly face, has a problem. At first, it seems he’s ignoring your requests to stop for photos and the bathroom. Yet, it’s odd because at times, he does seem to get what you’re saying.

Also, his English is LTG….Limited Tour Guide–meaning that he’s memorized things from books and speaks in a staccato sort of way. If you ask him about things he didn’t memorize, he can’t answer you. You learn little to nothing much about the places you see, including Masada. Good thing there are signs to help you.

Later on, after you nearly scream at him so he’d stop for photos of “the wall” surrounding Jerusalem, you realize what’s wrong.

He’s deaf in his right ear.

He’s a nice man who works hard. Does/did his best, it seems. He also keeps the AC cranked all day, which is worth a lot, considering the brutal Middle Eastern heat in July. But as far as his tourguide skills go, it’s a ‘fail.’ By the way, he takes you to a restaurant in Nazareth that’s pricey. It’s owned by his friends.

Just as you arrive back at the hostel, your travel companions bring up the tip and ask how much you want to throw in. You hesitate, suddenly wondering if you want to tip or if you even should. You feel slightly ripped off somehow.

What would you do?

Would you put some money in for a tip? Why/why not? Does someone who did a mediocre or somewhat poor job deserve a tip? Does it matter if the person is disabled? How do you feel about someone who’s hearing impaired working as a tour guide? Does that seem like an appropriate job?

Lima Boat Tourguidephoto © 2010 Chris Streeter | more info (via: Wylio)


What did I do?

Well, this was a tricky situation. The tour was not very good and I felt frustrated. I did not really get my money’s worth. But the man worked hard and did his best. I was torn, but then the other travelers decided to give him a tip and I contributed to it.

2. Back to the Wall–Dealing with a Colleague/Batterer

You’re teaching somewhere in Asia and you befriend the wife of a colleague. Her English is quite limited and she uses a dictionary and gestures. She does know enough, however, to explain that her husband is a drinker who sometimes slams her up against the wall. That’s when he’s not hitting her.

One night, during a free weekend trip, you hear noise in the room next to yours. It’s them…fighting. She comes to your room crying, gesturing that he–the husband–had been drinking and was beating her.

What Would You Do?

Do you let her stay in your room? Do you call the trip organizers–Communist Party officials whose English is limited–and report the husband? Do you go to his room and confront him?

beat 50photo © 2008 Mysi(new stream: | more info (via: Wylio)

What did I do?

I allowed the woman to stay in my room and did my best to comfort her. I then went to his room, banged on the door and confronted him re: what he’d done. I was a little bit scared of him, but I didn’t care. I wanted to tell him that what he’d done was wrong and that he should be ashamed of himself. And that’s exactly what I did. The next day he bought me a beer and tried to BS me and smooth things over. I didn’t fall for it.

Wait–there’s more.

3. Reward and Punishment–Poetic Justice?

You’ve been teaching at that particular school for 1 month and of all the teachers, you’re the most qualified and have done a fantastic job. The students and the administrators know it, too.

That’s not true for one of the other teachers, however. He did a poor job and everyone knows it. He showed movies every day and did very little. And he even laughed, at lunchtime, about the fact that he “wasn’t working very hard.”

At the end of the month, when it’s time to get paid, the administrators tell you that you’re receiving a special bonus/reward for your “exemplary work.” They’re going to give you extra money to pay for a flight to your next destination. You’re thrilled because you’re on a budget and really didn’t want to take the train.

Later that night, while having a drink with your colleague, you learn that the administrators docked his pay by nearly 20%%. They told him they knew he hadn’t done the job he was supposed to. He’s angry–livid in fact. You figure out, rather quickly, that the money they’re giving you is what he was owed.

What Would You Do?

Do you keep quiet and see it as poetic justice? Do you give him some of the extra money that you’ve been given for the train ride? Or…?

Oh, by the way, he’s the husband who’d been beating his wife.

Justice, 50 Fleet Street, Londonphoto © 2009 mira66 | more info (via: Wylio)

What did I do?

I kept the money and kept quiet.

Your Thoughts/Experiences?

So…what would you do in each of the situations listed above?  Also, what sort of tricky cultural situations and/or dramas/dilemmas have you been in? How did you handle yourself?

Can’t get enough?

Check out Part 1 of this series. There’s an icky meal made my friendly locals, a homestay dad who’s a bit too friendly and more!

13 Responses to Cultural Clashes, Dramas and Dilemmas (pt 2)
  1. Gray
    April 29, 2011 | 10:57 am

    I LOVE this series, Lisa. You ask the hardest questions! In the first scenario, I would tip. The guy’s got a disability, which I’m sure makes it hard for him to find employment, and even though he’s terrible at it, he’s trying. Service has to be really over-the-top poor for me not to tip at all. #2 is tough, since it’s a different culture/country. Yes, I’d let her stay in my room and I wouldn’t let him in. I would not go to confront him; that would be a bad idea, unless I wanted to end up like her. I would have to ask someone for advice about what can be done to help her, because I wouldn’t know, and of course, other cultures have very different ways of dealing with things. But I would want to help–as long as she wants to be helped. You can’t help anyone who doesn’t want to be helped. #3 is a no-brainer. I’d keep the money. If he didn’t do the job they hired him to do, he doesn’t deserve it. If I’ve done a great job, I do. And great twist, making him the wife-beater, too. In which case I’d be even more motivated to help her get away from him, since he’d no doubt be very pissed about getting his pay docked and would probably take it out on her.
    Gray recently posted..More Single Supplements Waived by Abercrombie &amp KentMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 29, 2011 | 11:37 am

      Hi, Gray. So glad you’re into it!! I do ask hard questions–it’s true…my students say that all the time. Perhaps it’s the former reporter in me?

      Anyway, good point re: the tour guide. I hear you. He wasn’t the absolute worst, but he was pretty bad. I had certain thoughts about the situation and agonized about the decision before finally making it…will make my confessions in this post in a “What I Did” section (at the end) in a few days.

      Re: the woman being beaten. Yeah, that was tough. I think it’s important to help someone in that situation. She was pretty desperate and I had noticed some scary things about him in the time leading up to it. He used to call her a “mere peasant” because she wasn’t as educated as him. I did not like him at all.

      What’s scary re: the money thing is that (I’m pretty sure) it happened after he’d hit her. I worried about what he’d do next, you know? But then, my time there was over. The teaching stint was completed and it was time to travel a little bit. To this day, I wonder about her…

      Thanks for joining in. As always, it’s great to see what you think! :)

      • Gray
        April 29, 2011 | 12:11 pm

        Wow, you actually found yourself in these situations? I thought you were just making them up as a philosophical exercise. Heavy.
        Gray recently posted..More Single Supplements Waived by Abercrombie &amp KentMy Profile

        • CB Driver
          April 29, 2011 | 12:26 pm

          Oh yeah–they are real! Crazy, right? Sometimes I scratch my head and ask, “How the heck??”

          Just changed cultures/countries in a couple cases to protect the innocent/guilty. Only one is a hybrid of a few situations I was in and is not an actual one.

    • Valerie Hamer
      October 19, 2011 | 8:43 am

      Gray’s thoughts are mine.

  2. Andrea
    April 29, 2011 | 5:04 pm

    Wow – these are really tough situations, especially the second one. But I agree with what Gray said for each of them.
    Andrea recently posted..Five Course Tasting Menu at Bodega Ruca Malen MendozaMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      April 30, 2011 | 9:32 am

      Hi, Andrea. Yes–very tricky indeed. I think that what Gray said is excellent. Very practical and no-nonsense!

  3. Sabina
    April 30, 2011 | 5:49 am

    You have such interestig posts, Lisa.

    1. I probably wouldn’t have tipped him because he didn’t have much knowledge of his own (he was probably an illegal, unlicensed, untrained tour guide by the way – there are tons of them here in Israel, which helps explain his lack of knowledge) and because he left you with the feeling of dissatisfaction and being ripped off. That taking you to his friend’s restaurant trick is also very common here in Israel. I’ve never been taken to a restaurant by a tour guide but have been taken to plenty of gift shops where, if I buy something, the tour guide gets a kickback. I don’t like it. I’m deaf in my left ear, actually, and I know if people speak directly into my left ear they just sound like a mosquito buzzing. I don’t have people shouting at me and still have trouble hearing them, though. In the photo he looks like an older man. Perhaps he’s lost some hearing in his left ear too. Or maybe he was ignoring you.

    2. The only option I see was taking her into your room. Calling the communists or, worse yet, confronting her husband, would have probably led to great trouble.

    3. I think it is perfectly fine and justified that you got an extra 20% while he got 20% less. You deserved a bonus and he deserved to be docked. I think a similar outcome might take place in the states.

    • CB Driver
      April 30, 2011 | 9:53 am

      Thank you so much, Sabina…I’m happy you enjoy them!

      Re: the tipping situation…very interesting info/insights. The restaurant trick definitely annoyed me. Of course, the tour guide used that ‘false intimacy’ thing with us, calling us “my friend” and the like. He also took us to a shop (so typical, right) and I bought nothing. The prices were way too high and the owner was snippy when I asked a simple question about something. As for his deafness in one ear–I did feel bad for him, but…. PS: the photo is from a website called and is not of the guide himself.

      As for the docking and reward situation, what you’re saying makes sense to me.

      In a few days, I’ll post exactly what I did–and why–in each situation. I’ll think you enjoy seeing how I handled things. Thanks for visiting and sharing in this with me/us!

  4. Waegook Tom
    May 3, 2011 | 8:40 am

    Oooh great questions! Tricky tricky.

    Number 1 – I’d tip, but for no more than the amount of a cup of coffee and a bagel. I’d no doubt be on a budget, and not want to lavish any significant amount on a job poorly done. If the guy wasn’t disabled…I’d give nothing either. The fact that the South African couple were tipping would make me feel bad, however.

    Number 2 – I’d allow the wife into my room. I would confront the guy – but at work, and make sure that plenty of co-workers could hear. The guy already sounds pretty unpopular, and having others aware of the wife’s situation would mean that people will keep an eye on her after I’m gone. Nothing like public shame to quash a bully.

    Number 3 – As other have previously said, total no-brainer. I’d keep the money, and go ahead and book myself a nice flight with it! Screw the lazy wife beater.

    Waegook Tom recently posted..I QuitMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      May 3, 2011 | 9:35 am

      Thanks, Tom. Sounds like a good amount for a tip in that situation. And I agree re: giving nothing if he hadn’t been disabled. (In a few days, I’ll post exactly what I did.)

      I love the idea of public shame for the bully–excellent! And yeah–the hell with the lazy wife beater. He deserved nothing, right? :)

      PS: Here’s a link to the first part of the series, if you’re interested. It has 3 more situations, including an overly friendly homestay father and others.

  5. Anuj
    February 10, 2012 | 9:59 am

    wow u just dont have any easy ones do u?
    it takes a particular kind of person to be as level headed as u r in the situations.
    I cant comment on whether I would/could have handled any of the situations better but I do hope that if I find myself in such situations that I would handle them at least as well as you do.
    Thanks for the inspiration and sharing your experiences.

    • CB Driver
      February 10, 2012 | 10:51 pm

      Hi, Anuj…definitely not easy–LOL. I think I did OK, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, thanks for reading/sharing!

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