Would the Real Slim Architect Please Stand Up?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m back in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for a few days. I landed late afternoon – that’s 5.30pm – on Tuesday and decided to go with my usual routine: politely but also angrily avoid all salespeople that pop up like bees around something sweet on my way to the currency exchange desk, exchange my Thai Baht to Vietnamese Dong (apparently not enough), head out to the taxi stands through hundreds of humans, avoid those salespeople lurking outside looking to rip a foreigner off of an expensive, detouring cab ride, get a legit cab and head to my hotel, recharge my batteries (both physical and electronic), head out for something to eat, and then head back home to my hotel room where I’d be a good human and plan my tomorrow.

That’s usually a great routine and a solid plan.

Annoyingly, things haven’t gone according to plan. I got a decent, friendly-looking and non-cunning driver who seemed to (and did) take the shortest and easiest route to my hotel. We eventually arrived to my destination, and I gave him some of my Dongs and I was expecting to get some of those Dongs back since I gave him more Dongs than the receipt said. He looked at me in disgust and grunted, “tip”, to which I replied, “change”, and pointed like a caveman towards my money that rested in his Vietnamese palms. Instead of giving me my proper, full change back, he decided to give himself a little tip and give me a smaller amount of change back than I should’ve had. Had he just given me my change back, I would have happily tipped him. Hell, I might’ve even let him keep all the change, which certainly had made me feel a lot happier and less robbed than I feel now. I’m also quite sure that deep within, he’d also much more appreciate someone tipping him for being a nice driver, than just stealing part of somebody’s change just because. It’s not so much about the amount – that’s really not important here – it’s that good-old principle. This article comes to mind.

A few moments later, I enter my hotel room. Now, I’m not especially picky on these trips, and I don’t demand anything luxurious on my stays here. I don’t give a shit about a nice view, a balcony, room service or anything like that. I don’t even care if my room has a window or not.

By the way, quick side note: in my experience from the hotels in Vietnam, when they say the room has windows, you kind of expect some sort of outside view…right? I’ve paid extra to get a room with a window on a few occasions, and that has only made me sarcastically laugh to myself when I discover that the windows (if there’s more than one) are only 10cm wide and 1m long, facing the alley in between houses, where the only thing to be seen is the fire escape, which is good in case I ever need to use it. Continue reading “Would the Real Slim Architect Please Stand Up?”