|It pays to nudge transactions into connections.|
Every month we feature funny or inspiring anecdotes from Rick Steves' tour alums. If you have a true tour tale to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a photo that illustrates it, please attach it. Don't forget to tell us which city and state you live in. We'd love to hear from you!
Gifts of Travel
My wife, Marcia, is a school librarian and each year looks for about 25 to 30 small, unique (and hopefully inexpensive) gifts for her parent volunteers. On a recent trip to Turkey, she saw something that she thought would be appropriate, and asked what the price would be for 30. The merchant seemed surprised and asked why. Marcia began to explain that she was a teacher and these were gifts. That's all the further she got before he just about fell all over her. He gathered up the 30 items and then he threw in another ten. Then he said, "You need gift bags for the gifts!" And he tossed in more than 40 beautiful little hand woven bags. Before long he's running around his shop, throwing even more stuff into a big shopping bag, exclaiming, "For teachers!!! For students!!!" And Marcia and I are looking at each other, wondering, "How are we going to get out of here and what is this going to cost us?" When we tried to pay for everything, he wanted nothing. "It is for teachers! Teachers very important!!" Wow, as teachers we wish we could get that kind of respect in the US. The shopkeeper finally took €20, and told us his story...
He explained that he'd grown up in a small farming village in the interior of Turkey, with literally a one-room schoolhouse and teachers always coming and going. But one of the teachers took him under her wing and encouraged him to study business and become a merchant, which allowed him to move away and have a better life. The man was almost tearful. We had previously encountered locals with "sob stories" who wanted something. This man wanted nothing. He took us next door and introduced us to his nephew as honored guests. We spent an hour together. One of the most amazing experiences we've ever had. That is what travel is all about.
— Frank from Centennial, CO
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