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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Solicitors

In the US you will often find on buildings and stores a sign that says 'No Soliciting' In Italy you won't, or if you do, it won't be enforced.

Saturday I decided to grab a sandwich at a bar. I chose one, paid, and then sat myself down at a table.
5 minutes later a solicitor, a seller of stuff I didn't want entered the bar and proceeded to ask all the clients eating what they bought at the bars tables if they wanted to buy his expensive stuff.
They all shook their heads 'No' and he moved on.

Then he gets to my table. I don't know what it is about me but ALL Non-Americans seem to be able to pick me out in a crowd as being American (what they think of as a rich tourist).
They see me as a human bank. Anyway, this life-form in the shape of a man asks me if I wanted to buy his stuff.
I said 'No thank you'. Not leaving a supposedly rich American tourist target alone, he then proceeded to beg me for money 'I'm hungry. I have no money. I have 3 kids. Help me.'
I felt bad for him, maybe it was true. I then saw that he had a package of 6 travel-size tissue packets with him. 'How much are the tissues ?' I asked, thinkining that maybe I will buy something from him after all.
'10 Euros' he replied.
Thinking that was a little expensive for tissues, I said 'No thank you'.
He insisted. He put them on the table. He cut the price down to 8 Euros. Then 6. The whole time I was protesting 'No' 'That's too much' ,' No thank you,', 'No' , and 'Please let me eat'.
The whole time the other clients at the 2 other tables occupied were staring at the scene we were causing.
So were at least 2 of the baristi behind the counter, yet even though I PAID 2.50 for my sandwich and 1 Euro for my water, no one came to rescue me and/or throw this guy out.
Finally I got up, took my sandwich and water and walked away, leaving him, the other customers and baristi that were watching, and that bar behind.
In the United States, sign or no sign, that aggressive selling/panhandling of paying customers is simply not allowed. I am not asking that stores in Italy become like those in the US, but show some respect for paying customers. Don't allow soliciting.