Pleased to meet you, can I borrow some money?

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Pleased to meet you, can I borrow some money?

It's not courteous to ask strangers for money, but does that belief change depending on where you are from?


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Sat 25 Feb 2017, 5:39 PM

We're all familiar with the definition of 'common courtesy', right? For those of you not quite sure, here's a refresher. 1. excellence of manners or social conduct; 2. a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.
Well a recent personal predicament has led me to thinking some people here may lack it at times - but for all intents and purposes, that 'lacking' is - in most part - unintentional.
Don't get me wrong, since moving to Dubai I have never come across a more obliging bunch of city-dwellers. Take the customer services scene for instance. These groups of workers go above and beyond to make my experience a pleasant one. But as someone who thinks common courtesy should come natural to all, it seems it doesn't.
Picture the scene. I pop into my local car rental office to get myself a little runaround, but I've entered without a valid ID. True to Dubai's hostly style, the friendly receptionist tells me it's no issue: "We can get a driver to take you to your apartment to collect it, ma'am," she tells me.
And so enters the driver - now he's an important person in this scenario. As I climb into the car with said driver, we begin our 20-minute round-trip to and from my dwellings.
We engage in some small talk. He's a pleasant chap with a smart, close-shave haircut and I know he's been living here for six years. We don't exchange names, but I know he likes fast cars - Bugatti's in fact.
Now note the rather insignificant 20-minute crossing of paths - this too is an important factor in the story. Me and Mr Driver meet for a total of 1,200 seconds. We exchange niceties. Not life stories. Not even names.
As he drops me back to the car rental office, we bid each other adieu and (I believe) that's the end of our encounter. But no, I'm wrong. Later that night I receive a text from an unknown number. The first text reads: "Hello ma'am, how are you?" and I reply with a short, sharp: "Who is this?"
"It's your driver from today."
Not wanting to be rude, but also carefully choosing a response that doesn't incite more chat, I simply reply: "I'm well thank you. I hope you are okay."
Alas, my carefully orchestrated response falls on deaf ears, and so comes the turning point in the ever-so-brief conversation. I call it the 'misguided proposition'.
I'm told (note: not asked) to lend him a large sum of money - money which he ensures will be returned to me within three months.
Now here is a man who I know nothing about. I don't even know his name. Yet he is asking me for an amount of money, which I would struggle to even ask my own parents for.
At no point did I allude to the fact that I am made of money - I am not made of money - so what made him think he could ask me, a stranger, for such a sum? But this isn't a one-off, as it's the third time in as many years I've been put in a situation like this.
Now in my world, it is not courteous to ask strangers for money, but does that belief change depending on where you are from? I think Dubai has a good defence for this.
Living in a city where so many different cultures live under one roof is bound to highlight a few glaring issues - and for me it's our obvious, albeit innocent - lack of understanding towards each other's culture at times.
Needless to say, there was no exchanging of money, nor was there an apology following the impolite proposition. In fact, oddly enough, it was I who was left feeling deflated and apologetic.

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