Last updated on 16th September 2019
When money comes into play
Have you ever eaten in a restaurant and realized, in the moment you want to pay, that you have no money with you? And what to do if this happens at a place you have never been before, in a foreign country where you don’t know anything or anyone, where no one speaks your language and you have basically nothing with you and no one to call for help?
This happened to me at the time I was in Yerevan, Armenia. I wanted to go to the cinema in Yerevan but the movie I wanted to watch was not on. The announcement at the website must have been wrong. So I sat down in a restaurant nearby, being the only guest, thinking what to do instead. I had cycled all the way to the cinema and did not want to waste more time. So I decided, as I am there already, sitting and thinking, I can actually eat something.
Food and drink came fast, I ate, drank, and then asked for the bill. Now I have to say, I was far from city centre and far from home, I do not speak any Armenian and no one spoke English. And even worse, it turned out that the ladies in the restaurant did not speak Russian. That meant we could not use Google’s translator for communication. I could make myself clear by showing my empty handbag and a sad face. They could make clear that they wanted me to give them my phone as a deposit. Then I should go home and bring the money and get my phone back.
“When money comes into play friendliness fades away.” [me]
The bill was about 2,500 AMD which is less than 5 EUR. I could not agree to that exchange, my phone is still worth more than 200 EUR and it connects me to everything. I never go anywhere without phone. If I get lost on the way home I would need it for navigation. I did not have anything else with me that I could give to them, just my phone, my keys and a watch.
We ended up sitting there, me refusing to leave my phone behind and them refusing to let me go to get the money. It was a pat. I don’t know exactly for how long we just sat there doing nothing.
Luckily another friend of them arrived who spoke Russian. He said I should trust them but how could I trust if they don’t trust me? I tried to explain the value of my phone. The man translated.
Eventually the lady behind the counter made a call to someone, I guess explaining the situation to someone superior. Then she took my ID card and also asked to give my phone number to her, and let me go. Relieved I went, racing my bike home and returned about 1h later with my purse, happy that I hadn’t lost it rather than just forgot it at home.