Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How I met a member of the Bulgarian ruling class

commercial photography locationsImagine you take a vacation to an Eastern European country, a land that was formerly under the auspices of the Soviet Union via the Eastern Bloc. In 1989, in the wake of the Berlin Wall's collapse, this nation's Communist leadership decided to give its people the vote, including a choice for democracy. Because they were hungry for blue jeans and rock'n'roll and toilet paper and most of the other nice things Westerners had, the citizens voted for democracy and the free market.
The only problem with this is that this newly established way of life did not remove the nepotism deeply embedded within the country, nor the corruption. The result is that the police stayed untrustworthy and the establishment of an organized crime syndicate grew to proportions that would have and could have never existed under the former Communist government. The Communist sense of authority and braggadocio remained under a new ruling class.
This country is Bulgaria. The nation isn't the basket case it used to be, granted. But I had my suspicions about the place even before leaving the U.K. It was like a foreshadowing of sorts.
I won't go into specifics about our vacation there, but on the third day, as we were enjoying the indoor jacuzzi, a man walked into the spa complex. Right away, my senses were on alert. His shaven head and square face pointed to an obvious lack of intelligence necessitating the need to be part of a gang, even though he was alone with his 2-year-old child. He immediately discovered that we were wearing flip-flops in the jacuzzi. My wife had slipped while bare-footed in the hot-tub two days prior and we were told by spa reception that flip-flops had to be worn. They did not tell us that they couldn't be worn inside the jacuzzi, which we thought was protocol.
When the shaven-haired goon gave up complaining to us, in Bulgarian, which we don't speak, over his allegation that we had dirtied the jacuzzi with our flip-flops, he fetched the receptionist who also informed us to remove them.
Here's where it gets "good": Once she left, my wife swears that he said "fuck you" to us. I didn't hear that, but I did hear him address me: "You are stupid. This is a baby." When I stared back at him upon this insult, he widened his eyes and demanded, "Problem?!" I rolled my eyes and looked away, at which point he descended into the main pool with his little bastard, loudly muttering, "Motherfucker." Suddenly, this asshat can speak English.
This is what you go on holiday for, right, dear reader?
Now then, this is behavior I would not have tolerated for one moment in either of my home countries of America or Britain. But this is Eastern Europe, this is the Balkans, this is Bulgaria. It was obvious to me that this inbred was mafioso in some way. If I'd risen to his challenge, I could imagine him saying, "We'll settle this after I get dressed," and while in the changing room, make a cell-phone call to his "associates." And if it had been there and then, both of us grappling in our trunks, the police would have been called and, well, God help me. The man could have said anything in Bulgarian to the police who would very likely be persuaded that my Anglo-American (and Brexit-supporting) ass was the source of trouble-making, because I don't believe for one moment in the concept of civil rights being applicable in that place. I am not keen to spend even a second in a Bulgarian jail.
Silence and avoiding further confrontation was the only option and definitely the better part of valor.
I will also add that though it was not the main hotel's fault, as they have no direct jurisdiction over the spa complex, the receptionist at the spa clearly had no intention of making the thug pay for his threatening behavior. In fact, we believe she knows who he is, but—in the manner of a true denizen of the Balkans—she will look after her own. We got the money back that we paid to use the spa, but that was it. 
On a thread from a few years ago on the Just Landed forum, entitled "Mafia in Bulgaria! How bad is it?", one reader responded:
In Bulgaria you cannot have big mouth to somebody, cause guaranted you can be beaten and that goes even to Bulgarians themselves—due to mentality, temperament and old historical background of the people.
You see any big ugly men with muscles, shaved heads, no matter if they wear suits or not, don't stare at them too much. Avoid getting into arguments with them because unlike the West where a murder is usually planned and with a motivation, in the Balkans it tends to be more impulsive since the people have shorter tempers, the mentality is different which means the two most unlikely people to get into a fight with each other are the ones who will end up doing it, depending on the situation.
Sounds pretty accurate given our recent experience. Anyone else want to question why I endorsed and voted for the Leave campaign last year? The Bulgarians are in the E.U.
Then there's this gem from Wikitravel: "There have been several cases of tourists being assaulted by the mafia for improper behavior, such as the brutal beating of an Icelandic teenage girl in the summer of 2007."
I know that people who can bully others with impunity, because they know damn well that they will get away with it and that they cannot lose, are cowards. But damn, these people are real bottom-scrapers.
Well, listen to me, you chalga bouncer faggot and any other brainless hayseed bohunk reading this, try pulling this bullshit in London and see what you will get and where it will land you. Here, we have standards. And here, I will not back down.
Fuck me? No, fuck you.

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