Read about the first scammed in Ukraine story here.
In Kiev, it seems everybody has a pet monkey. Every single time I walk down the main street, some street hustler attempts to throw a monkey on my shoulder and then take money from me.
Rabies vaccinations are not included before the monkey play begins.
On one of my first days here, I got caught off guard by one of the monkey handlers. Before I knew it, I had a monkey named John on my shoulder. I figured I might as well give her a dollar, and get a new picture with a monkey for my online dating profile, or something.
Well, as my friend was snapping the picture of me with the monkey, another monkey handler threw his monkey on to my shoulder, making sure it was at a perfect time to get the shot.
What do you think happened?
Here’s the progression…
Just look at my face in the last one!
Of course, he wanted money too – even though I had never expressed in interest in his monkey (I have high standards, what can I say).
I gave the original monkey handler $2 and attempted to go on my way. But monkey handler #2 had other ideas, getting right up in my face and demanding that I pay him $10.
He started waving a lit cigarette right in my face, and I was seriously beginning to contemplate the reprecussions of throwing down right there in Maidan Square of Kiev. I had the size advantage, but was thinking he probably had the edge in the crazy department.
Ultimately, I decided it’d be best to just give him $4. Ukrainian prison is not a place I’m keen to see. I looked him clear in the eye, money in hand, and said, “You are going away after this, understood?”
He seemed to get the point.
So I gave it to him and he went on his way, monkey on his arm (no idea what this one’s name was). Thus far, I’m rabies free.
Now, every time I walk down the street, I keep an eye out for the monkeys.
But it’s a funny story.
What I mean was there is something about the Ukraine that is hard to describe. There are certain standards of behavior that you expect in Western societies. There are tremendous and great things about the Ukraine and its people. And you encountered the negative side–the side that I am reluctant to talk about because of respect for the good things. You can find a Ukrainian girl who will not try to ruin you are American women do. But the culture is that of theft. That is, theft is considered a mitzvah, a good deed. This seems to be embedded in the culture.If you rent an apt, be sure the owner will come in when you are not there and take what meets his fancy.
Really, it’s considered a GOOD thing in parts of the culture to steal?
I think so. A least for certain there is nothing that is considered bad about theft except for getting caught. There is not concept like. “You would not like me to do this to you, so why do you do it?” It is an aspect I would rather not dwell on because there are plenty of good things about the people and place. But it is essential for a westerner to be very very aware of this aspect of the culture and to be wary.