Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Offensive Thriftiness

Yesterday one of my staff asked if I would mind meeting two European inters who were doing some sort of evaluation of cheese production in Azerbaijan. I will post another time about my thoughts on trying to push European cheeses and cheese making practices on cultures that are perfectly happy with their local products. This post is about how these two were operating, they were carrying backpacks, they came by marshutka (like a van/taxi/bus service found in many CIS countries, and is quite cheap [albeit very uncomfortable]), and they don’t seem to want to pay for anything. They came and had some questions for me etc but seemed to be wanting more assistance which I ignored at first but then caved and offered the organization’s vehicle/driver to take them around a bit. One of my staff put these intern in her house for the night (I was not willing to go that far since I already have to host consultants and regional staff sometimes) and my staff also found a student who would do translation for me (seemingly for free) and these two girls don’t seem (hopefully they will prove me wrong) to have any inclination to reimburse the organization or this student translator. While not reimbursing an organization is acceptable having someone help you for free, not treating them to a lunch or transport back home just seems irresponsible and rude and no, not thrifty, it is downright cheap.

I have seen some pretty obnoxious expats, and some locals that are hell bent on ripping off expats but thankfully most expats seem pretty willing to compensate locals for time/services in some fashion. Those expats who mooch off of locals who are much less fortunate (financially) than they are… are just loathsome.