Crazy Things That Happen To You When in Rome
“Mi scusi, mi scusi, do you speak English,” the man in the car asked through his rolled down window, as my daughter and I stood on the side of the roadway by the Tiber River just down from the Temple of Hercules.
“Yes, I do.” I replied.
“I seem to be lost. Do you know the way to the Vatican?” He asked through the open passenger window as he leaned over closer to me.
I moved closer and bent down a bit. “Yes, just keep on this road and you will come to it.”
He picked up a shirt off the front seat and handed it to me as he said, “Please have this shirt for helping me.”
I said, “No, that is okay. It was nothing. I don’t need a shirt,” as I looked at the brown Pierre Cardin shirt wrapped in the thick cellophane that old clothing shops used to wrap shirts in to keep the dust off slow moving inventory. I had not seen this type of wrapping in a couple of decades.
I backed off from the window. He shook the shirt and I could hear the hard cellophane making crinkling noises as he shook.
“Please take it. I am the Executive Director for Pierre Cardin. I just finished a fashion show early so I have some time and I want to visit the Vatican.”
“Oh, how nice,” I said.
He now had the shirt out of the window and said, “Please take it. For helping me,” he almost pleaded.
Reluctantly I took the shirt. As I looked more closely I saw why the shirt was wrapped in old hard cellophane because the style was right out of the late 1970s. I knew because I had a few Pierre Cardin shirts back then. This one was a dark brown. A colour that I do not like and never wore.
“Okay, thank you,” I said and turned to walk away with my daughter. We were on our way to the local market just down the road to buy some shoes.
“Mi scusi, “ the man said. I stopped and turned. He was fanning 5 or 6 credit cards in his hand and said, “I have to drive up to Milan today for a show tomorrow and I am almost on empty. I have been trying to buy fuel at the stations in central Rome but they do not take my credit cards. “
I looked at him and now began looking closer at his older model car. The interior was dusty and littered with stuff. Not the type of car that the Executive Director of Pierre Cardin would be driving. This was a scam.
He carried on, “I need 75 Euros to fill up as I need to get to Milan today after visiting the Vatican. Can you help me out?”
I said, “I am sorry, I don’t have any cash on me,” as I began to turn away.
He pleaded, “The shirt that I gave you is worth 150 Euros,” as he looked at me more earnestly.
I tossed him back the shirt and turned and walked away quickly with my daughter laughing and saying loudly so he could hear, “Ha ha, what a scam! The Executive Director of Pierre Cardin. Really, what a joke,” as he drove away looking for his next victim.
‘My credit card doesn’t work’ is a common scam run by the gypsies in Rome and in Italy. The gypsies are the biggest scam artists in Europe. On average, they scam 300-400 Euros a day. Most of that money goes back to the gypsy gang leader in Romania. Generally a gypsy gang leader will have 12-15 underlings working various tourist areas in Europe. If you do any amount of travelling in Europe, you will run into many different scams. Read my blog on Gypsy Scams for details on a number of different scams.