I hate selfie sticks.  Yes I do.  I’ve had Japanese tourists, little kids, and just about everyone else invade my personal space with the damned things.  Ha.  Rant over.  On to the blog.
After touring around Europe the last few weeks, I’ve come to a few conclusions.  There are people out there just don’t have it as good as you and I do.  But it’s not for lack of effort.  I’m normally a skeptical person when it comes to someone getting something over on me.  But I have to admit, they got me once and almost twice.  Ha.  
You have to feel for people who, by birth, were not given even the simplest chance like we were in the United States.  I’m not trying to open up some huge immigration debate, although I can see both the isolationist view and the “give them the opportunity” view.  I’m talking about people working many hours a day to get you to transfer a few Euro, or dollars, or pounds, or whatever, from your pocket to theirs.  I’ve seen the truly needy.  I’ve seen a man walking down the street on nothing but stumps.  He honestly didn’t have legs and didn’t have a wheelchair or any prosthetics.  I’ve seen people in Europe who obviously had no clue what today was or where they were.  Those people needed help.  
And then there are the ones who aren’t begging for money.  These are the people who are honestly working, although illegally, to try and sell you something.  Think of the people who line the sidewalks in Las Vegas trying to convince you to take their cards advertising a woman to your room tonight.  These people are essentially the same.  And what are they hawking the most?  The damned selfie stick.  Something I’m not a big fan of to begin with.  It started in Paris and has continued to Rome.  At a “touristy” location such as the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, men will walk up to you with the aforementioned device, fully extended, and poke the business end of it into your face.  If you make eye contact, that buys you an extra 30 seconds of sales technique.  If you speak to the person or show even a hint of interest, the gentleman will just about follow you for an hour.  I’m exaggerating but you get the point.  And it’s not just selfie sticks.  It has been scarves, beer/champagne, bracelets, wood carvings, “Coach” or Louis Vuitton” handbags, and little blue helicopters.  Reina has to throttle me like a little kid when those are around.  I turn instant juvenile when I see things fly.  If a jet or a helicopter or just about anything is flying, I’ll watch it.  The little blue helicopters are LED lit things that they fling about 500 feet into the air like a rocket and when they start to descend, they whirl, similar to a helicopter, and change to a different color.  Totally cool.  I have this defect that I have to look.  The “salesmen” are 100% perceptive and see my reaction.  And they are on us like white on rice.  Haha.  
Bottom line for these people.  They are trying to sell me a selfie stick for 3 Euro.  They probably have a Euro invested in each one.  You can tell these people need the money.  It’s cool that they are working but it truly is a bother to you after awhile.
One last category. There have been a couple of people who took advantage of us.  The first time I got took was when we were leaving Paris and were walking by the Notre Dame.  We had some young women who seemed legit.  They asked me to sign a petition for something involving civil rights.  Sign and they will leave me along.  Right?  Right after we both signed, they asked for the compulsory donation.  I felt bad that I signed and now I wasn’t going to follow through will my obligation.  Sucker.  So I gave them a Euro.  Then the young lady tells me it’s a 5 Euro MINIMUM.  Hahaha.  I raised my voice and said, “Give me my Euro back.”  She said “fuggedaboutit” and went on to the next sucker.  
The other near miss happened last night near our restaurant.  A young African man came up with a bunch of bracelets.  I told him we weren’t interested.  He started giving us free bracelets.  He even put one on Reina’s wrist.  I told him he needed to keep them and try selling them to other people.  He said, “For free” and insisted we take them.  I said okay and we walked off.  He followed us for a few and finally asked us for money.  Reina gave him his bracelet back and no harm no foul.
A funny thing happens when the police are nearby.  These people put everything away in a nanosecond the moment law enforcement rolls in.  The cops know they do it and turn a blind eye.  There are handles on the blankets where they keep there wares.  The moment the authorities are nearby, boom, it gets picked up and the salesmen are relocating.
I tell you this not to scare you.  I believe these people never mean harm.  They just want your money.
A man selling scarves in Rome.
Selling in Rome.

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