Oct 10, 2014: Tourists Behaving Badly

In the six months we’ve been travelling, I had yet to witness one tourist behaving badly. True, I’d seen tourists acting in annoying touristy ways, like blocking foot traffic while taking photos. But that goes with the territory. I’m talking about legitimately bad behavior. Behavior that would make you question whether you still want to be associated with that person. This afternoon I got to witness, firsthand, how hilariously awful people can be.

We found ourselves at a cafe on Istiklal this afternoon, the main tourist street near our flat.It’s a nice place we’ve been to before. Decent service, a killer iced tea and a comfortable patio to enjoy it on. All was good until a man at a neighbouring table started yelling at the waiter in English. Something about waiting 15 minutes for something. It was never really made clear what was going on, but he kept yelling at the waiter and gesturing wildly with his hands while the the waiter tried to explain that the kitchen was working on it. Less than 5 minutes after that, his food was on his table and he was still yelling. The waiter returned and asked “what’s the problem?” That was too much for yelling guy to handle. He grabbed his fedora (yes, he actually had a green paisley fedora on the table) and stormed into the restaurant to yell at someone before walking out, to rage into the distance, leaving a delicious looking omelette and still steaming cup of coffee behind him.

But the day’s entertainment was not over. After yelling guy shoved off, an older British couple sat down on our other side. These guys tipped me off early. The woman kept asking our waiter “is this spicy” while constantly interrupting his answer. The dramatics started when the waiter brought them their drinks. “No! I wanted it in the bottle!” Her iced tea was already poured in a glass over ice. In Istanbul, it’s more common for places to make their own iced tea than to find it pre-bottled. Especially in cafes and restaurants. I don’t know how she ordered it, but it hardly seemed the offence she was making it out to be. She demanded that it be sent back, and replaced. Her husband tried to step in an minimize the situation. “Could you bring her the bottle and a glass? That’s all.” he said in a much quieter and sweeter tone than his wife had managed. The waiter acquiesced and disappeared into the interior of the cafe to somehow fix her drink.

By this point, I was worried she’d notice my eavesdropping. Especially given that Adam was back to stifling giggles. Adam and I made small talk while we waited for the next installment of silly. But my eyes wandered back to her table when she pulled out a wet wipe and started sanitizing the cutlery.

Thankfully, by the time she was storing her wet wipe back in its foil packet, prepared for the next imaginary threat, we’d finished our meal and were eager to leave. We left our stoic waiter with a large tip and commiserated with him on how he was forced to deal with such people.