Being stupid can have it’s advantages! Don’t you think? What, you don’t understand what I am talking about? OK, let me explain.
Here in the Philippines, like in probably most countries, if a foreigner does something that is odd or different, local people often excuse the behavior because they understand that he just doesn’t know the local custom. Most likely, he is doing something that way it would be done “back home” and thus he is not really stupid, but rather ignorant of the way things are done here. If you are a foreigner, you can actually use this to your advantage. Let’s look at one example and see how.
The way that banking works here in the Philippines is that you get together your transaction and hand it to the teller when you arrive at the bank, then you go have a seat in the lobby of the bank. When a teller takes your transaction out of the pile, it is your turn, and she will call you to the counter. This might be only a few minutes, but sometimes you go in the bank and there may be 50 or more people sitting there waiting their turn. In this case, you might have to wait for an hour or more for your turn. Now, I don’t know about where you are from, but back in the States, when you go in the bank, you just queue in line and when you reach the teller, she processes your transaction immediately. So, it is done differently here. Being the “stupid foreigner” could work to your advantage in this situation.
If I am in a hurry, and want to transact immediately with the bank, I will enter the bank, go to the teller window and put down my transaction papers on the counter. The teller will invariably tell me, “Sir, have a seat.” My response, “Oh, I am not tired, thank you.” And I just continue to stand there. The teller is obviously uncomfortable, and she resigns herself to the realization that – “Oh, he is a foreigner, he doesn’t understand how we do it here.” So, in order to just get me out of her hair, she takes care of my transaction and sends me on my way! I have just successfully played the “Stupid Foreigner.”
Now, honestly, I don’t do this often any longer. I used to, though. You see, I have learned to do it the way that successful Filipinos do it, and that method actually saves me more time than my method! And, that method is that I just send somebody to take care of the transaction for me! I give all the paperwork to one of my employees and tell them to go to Bank “X” and take care of it. They will, of course, sit their turn in line and transact in the proper method. I have no hassles, because I don’t even have to go to the bank.
The “stupid foreigner” trick can be used in many instances, not just banking. And, sometimes being stupid can have huge advantages, too! 😉