As an expat of the Trailing Spouse Tribe, I sometimes get opportunities to visit places I wouldn’t have expected to go to. Like Belgrade, Serbia, where I spent a few days once while accompanying my man on a business trip. No, I am not going to give you a tourist travelogue here about the history and geography of the place; you can find that in the guide books or on the Internet. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed eating out in the old Bohemian neighborhood of Skadulija and that Kalemegdan Fortress was interesting.
What I’m telling you here is a tiny tale of terror I experienced while there. Don’t get excited; it’s not a big story. It popped into my consciousness for reasons I can’t imagine, so I thought I’d share it with you here.
I was lazing on a sunny terrace one morning while my man toiled away at a conference. Lady of leisure that I am, I was enjoying a cappuccino and watching the locals. People watching is one of my favorite pastimes. Now the locals in Serbia are not terribly exotic, as you can see on this photo, but I was about to encounter a more memorable character.
The time came when I was in need of the facilities and I went inside the building to find them. Which I did: Left for men, right for ladies. No problem. On my way out I noticed a rather ferocious looking toilet lady sitting at a small table on the men’s side, but there was no one on the ladies’ side. Not processing this correctly, I simply waltzed out.
Only to stop dead in my tracks when a loud barrage of furious words slammed me in the back. It was shocking! And it all sounded so un-lady- like! The language being unknown to me, I did not understand what precisely was being hurled at me, but since the vitriol originated from the toilet lady’s oral cavity, the message was clear: I was meant to pay her for the use of the facilities.
I was tempted to move on because I am not used to being screamed at by toilet ladies, or by anyone else for that matter. But I did not. Being a toilet lady is not the nicest job in the world, and it did look like she could use some new shoes, so I was sure she needed the twenty cents more than I did.
I turned and dropped a coin in the saucer and offered her a smile to show her I was full of loving kindness and had not intended to cheat her. She glared back at me.
Well, so it goes. It’s comforting to believe in Karma in such situations.
* * *
Perhaps you have a more riveting tale of being screamed at in some foreign land, or perhaps you’ve had a more gentle encounter with one of the friendlier toilet ladies of this world. Do tell!