Updated: Jan 20, 2021
The safety of the people shall be the highest law. – Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher born in 106 BC
Thistles and Coos is committed to providing honest and upfront information about traveling worldwide. We want you to learn from our many crazy adventures and predicaments. It is our goal to bring you affordable and relevant reviews, how-to’s, and stories.
Today, we are going to learn:
“How-To Ditch Unwanted Advances or
the Creepy Old Guy.”
While traveling, one of the many pleasures is meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. If you have not done your homework prior to your trip about some of the cultural nuances, this can create interesting situations. Both men and women can be subjected to unwanted advances. We have all been there.
With a little humor and some sound advice, we are going to offer up some options on how to safely and without causing an international incident ditch the “creepy old guy.” We also do not want to make light of what could have been unsafe or confuse friendliness with vulgarity.
***For the sake of our story, we are using “creepy old guy” generically and he is gender neutral. We are not that naive to think women are exclusive in these situations. ***
"Cultivate a habit of caution." ~Safety Saying
We are Moms, Sisters, Aunts, Females, all of the above and more; therefore, we need to take responsibility to teach our younger generations to be situationally aware when traveling with friends or solo. TRAVEL and see the world. Don’t be clueless. This is for both men and women.
Befriend the bartender
Be aware of your physical surroundings
Create a “go-to” response or script
Do not give out personally identifiable information (i.e. social security number, date of birth)
Maintain positive control over your sensitive items (i.e. passport, credit / debit card, driver’s license, currency)
Natalie and I find ourselves in a small pub in Ireland.
This pub is exactly what every American, I’m Irish because my mom’s second cousin twice removed’s dog’s sister’s brother’s uncle was from Ireland, would imagine a pub to look like.
It’s dark; Guinness is being poured properly. You sit and watch as the foam rises to the top and what was once a mocha color is now a lovely dark brown stout. There really is a talent and skill to pouring a Guinness.
The three-man band is playing in the corner and everyone is happy. Irish music with its upbeat tempos creates a feeling of community. Everyone wants to get up and dance a jig. Suddenly we are all channeling Michael Flatley. #lordofthedance
Befriend your Bartender:
We sit at the bar and chat up the bartenders. We learn one of them is the owner of the pub. He is originally from Boston and has moved back to Ireland to help his mom with the family business. Sounds like the beginning of a rom-com… He’s a bit crotchety and probably slightly annoyed by the overly “American” gals sitting at the bar (Natalie and me)... we are those who call back to the States and harass our friends because we are in Ireland and they are not. #sorrynotsorry
The other bartender, Brian, is our new friend. He keeps us entertained and teaches about local cuisine. FYI: the kitchen closes early in most pubs, so be sure to order early, otherwise, you will end up with “crisps” (a fancy way to say a bag of potato chips) from behind the bar OR mints from the bartender’s pocket.
It’s smart to learn the bartender’s name. This makes a connection and will prove beneficial if you need assistance escaping the advances of the creepy old man. It was Brian who Natalie and I went to when we wanted to leave the pub and head back to our Bed and Breakfast. We weren’t quite comfortable walking to our car alone, so we had Brian walk us out. #safetyinnumbers
Be Aware of Your Physical Surroundings:
Since Natalie and I travel together, we tend to stick by each other when we are out and about. It is extremely important to know your surroundings. Where is the exit or the restroom. Is the restroom down the stairs, around the corner…. Make eye contact without being creepy. Try to identify the serial killer or the hoarder in the room.
We do watch a lot of Dateline and 48 Hours.
It is here we meet the “creepy old guy.”
I do want to preface here because I LOVE little old men. They crack me up and usually have hilarious stories to tell and I am a willing ear. Unfortunately, this fondness for elderly fellows did bite me in the ass in Ireland.
Natalie and I are sitting at the bar with our freshly poured Guinnesses and enjoying the music - laughing - having a grand old time. A little old man walks up to the bar and stands beside me. Of course we have “American tourists” stamped on our foreheads, so we must smile politely to this new friend.
We chat - kinda because I have a difficult time understanding him with his thick accent. Stupidly, I smile and nod my head. To my defense, it was loud in the pub too. He tells me about his wife and how they own a Bed and Breakfast… again I smile and nod.
Look at me, I am so culturally savvy. #makingfriends
He then invites us to his hotel. He stands and leaves the bar.
We look at each other after he leaves and then pose the question: I thought he was talking about he and his wife owning a bed and breakfast? Luckily, he was gone and we can shake off the weirdness of the creepy old man.
Fast forward about 30 minutes, he then comes back and I have my back turned away as I am engaged in a conversation with Natalie. Without warning, I feel a hand on my lower back… ok … maybe someone is leaning in to place an order and they are letting me know they are going to be in my personal space.
I will allow this for a moment. This “hand” now starts rubbing my lower back and I stiffen up and give Natalie the “WTF look.”
He moves away from us but doesn’t leave the bar. She and I now rehash my conversation with the old creeper and create what to say next time we experience unwanted advances or don’t want to continue a conversation. We needed a bit of levity to the situation.
Create a Go-To Response or Script:
In all seriousness, be prepared with a “token” response when you want out of a conversation. If you are traveling with friends, create a code word, so everyone knows what it means and how to respond. Be smart. No means No - Always.
No. Thank You. I am waiting on my significant other to come back.
I would love to go back to your hotel room, but I need to shave my mom’s back.
Oh - Right - I’m sorry, I already imagined you above me and I think I will pass.
Yeah. Sorry. Not tonight. I have to clip my toenails.
Where is my wife?
Satan is telling me to perform a sacrifice on the next full moon.
‘Merica for the win!
I still live at home with my parents
Did you hear that? That is me saying No and crushing your dreams.
Don’t Give Out Personally Identifiable Information:
As you travel to foreign countries or even in your own, be smart about where you are and what you say while walking or dining. Proclaiming I am traveling alone is probably not a good idea.
Don’t announce your hotel room number when sitting at the bar alone. A ‘put it on my tab for room # 8000,” tells the entire bar where you are staying. Watch more Dateline.
With current social media and google searches, it is scary what a person can find out about you. We are not saying be paranoid, but be paranoid about what you are willing to tell someone. #trustnoone
Maintain Positive Control Over Your Sensitive Items:
Be conscious about where you place your sensitive items both on your person and in your lodging area. Know where your credit / debit cards, passport, driver’s license and currency are located at any given time and plan accordingly.
Decide how to secure these items whether you keep them in a pocket, purse, handbag, book bag or lock them up in a safe provided by your lodging facility. Are you staying in a hotel or a hostel? Are you sharing space with others? Take these factors into consideration when developing a sensitive item security plan.
This is when that hidden money belt does come in handy. Be sure to check that you placed the money inside the pocket and not just pressed up against your skin and the bag. Natalie did this with her money and almost lost all of her cash. Check and double check.
We hope that what we have provided today will prove to be beneficial. Traveling is fun and we encourage you to get out meet people, visit new cities, see the world AND be cautious and prepared. Do your homework. Have fun.
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