|St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans|
Emphasis on the hustle. Sorry if you’re reading this blog thinking it will be full of foolproof travel advice. This was not my smartest or finest hour travel peeps. But I digress...
It was only my sixth day in the US and I was still on that familiar travel high…"I love all these unique places, strangers, friendly people chatting to us just because we’re from another country…"
I was so high that I didn’t have my street smarts with me. (I may also have been high on sugar – I had just moments before had a creole southern breakfast i.e. sweet crepe with creamy cheesy custard and fried apple). I would have to say that before this incident, I prided myself on being a savvy traveller. I always watched my valuables in crowded areas, forever on the look out for pickpockets. Not that day. I got hustled. Big time.
Dictionary definition of ‘Hustle’ is: To obtain something by deceitful or illicit means; practice theft or swindling.To solicit customers. Used of a pimp or prostitute. To misrepresent one's ability in order to deceive someone, especially in gambling.
|Me. Pre hustle.|
Her: How y’all doin? I bet I can tell you where you got those shiny sneakers...
Travel Mistake #1 – do not wear your shiny new Nike sneakers in New Orleans. They are as good as a neon sign flashing ‘get your gullible tourist here’.
Smug ol' me thinks she will never know I bought them at home in Australia.
Travel Mistake #2 - once you open your mouth and speak to the hustler...you are as good as gone.
She then introduces herself....
Her: Let me shake your hand ma’am. Please to meet y'all. Welcome to our beautiful city of New Orleans. I been born and bred here, even survived Katrina. I’ll give you a free shoe clean if I can’t tell you were you got them shoes.
(She had already started to clean my already sparkling white shoes with a tiny cloth and some no-name soap. Actually come to think of it, I’m not even sure it was soap).
Her: Ma’am, if I can tell you where you got them shoes, city and state, you’ll pay for your shoe clean? Shake on it?
Travel Mistake #3 - never shake on anything with a hustler and be arrogant enough to think you will win (and the deal will be fair).
Me: Sure. I promise.
Her: So, you got them shoes on your feet, your feet are on the ground in New Orleans, in the state of Louisiana.
Me: S!ht. Damn. I’ve been had.
So naturally I laugh and turn to walk away. I won't be giving her any money, I think to myself, she just conned me! But the two massive guys sitting on a park bench about two metres away don’t think it’s funny. They are apparently with her. So My Kiwi reaches into his wallet and pays the woman her rate – $5 a shoe.
Like I said, not my finest hour! I went to drown my sorrows in sugar - Beignets. More on that next post.
Have you ever been hustled, hassled or hoodwinked? Please share. No names necessary. Your identity will be protected…