Yesterday, THIS GUY happened to me:

Normally I would have asked permission to take his
picture, but he was a total jackass. So I didn’t.
This, my friends, is a shoeshine boy. Except in HCMC, they’re more like Tourist Sandal Predators. I was walking along, minding my own business, when he ran up to me, knelt in front of me at a crosswalk and started supergluing my sandals. I was beyond surprised. I had no frame of reference. I shook him off, threw him 10,000 VND (about .50 USD) after he protested and got on my way.
But, oh no, this was not the end of this stupid drama. Not on this day when I’ve already had the most annoying day I’ve had since I got here. Of course not.


Two blocks later he was back, and he got behind me without me knowing, and kicked my sandal off, WHILE I was WALKING. All the while talking in vietnamese about… well, who knows, and who cares, I was ready to blow. It had been a very trying day already, a day in which nothing made any sense. Maybe it radiated and made me a bigger target, I don’t know. All I DO know, is that if I see one of these dudes again, I’m taking off my sandals, flipping him off, and striding in the opposite direction.

He pointed out the poor shape of the sandal. Duh. I could have told you that, I don’t care about sandals. I wear ’em til they break, and then I get a new pair for a buck or two. This dude put new soles on my sandal and spattered superglue around the edges. I tried to get away but he just kept talking at me. My stupid, STUPID desire not to be rude kept me there, I guess.
And then it hit me: I was clearly being scammed.
Even after this revelation, I felt there was little I could do. I waited for him to finish one sandal and then asked him how much. He said 700 (700,000 VND/$33 USD) and I laughed at him. Straight up laughed. I countered with 100, he eventually pushed it up to 300k. All while holding my shoes. That’s like 15 bucks. Nuh-uh, right?
Clearly, this guy was a pro. He started the second and then said it was per sandal. I shook the finished sandal off and started leaving on barefoot. At this point he started laughing and gesturing, saying “sorry, sorry!” It was lies. I ended up giving him the equivalent of 15 bucks to re-shod my sandals and glue the bad parts back together, just to get him out of my face. Which I’m assuming he knew I would do. As my hotel owner has told me, Americans have a reputation for being unnecessarily nice. Stupid Americans, when will you learn?
Way to play me! I have to give you props, poor shoeshine boy! You made 15 bucks off a piece of rubber and some superglue today!
Live and learn, I guess. Still, he better run if I see him again.
My sandals do seem to be better in the mud, however. God, I hate to admit that. Not $15 worth… but better.