A Yambol Hairdresser Trying to Rip Off a Brit

A simple trip to a hairdresser in Yambol evokes such a conundrum of incidents since I have been living in Bulgaria. Each time there is a story to tell, this one has a funny ending or in a strange way proving that crime doesn't pay. 

barber shop, brit, bulgarian, crime, haircut, hairdresser, rip Off, sexist, turkish, women, yambol, There is a hairdresser I regularly go to which is run by a Turkish couple, most clients opt for he man and often wait until he is free. This is not because he is a better hairdresser, it is just that men prefer men cutting their hair in Bulgaria. Is this sexist? I find ti refreshing that there is still choice that exists. Is it any different from picking one of two men at then end of the day. If there where two women would the hairdressing business close, it is not a hairdressing saloon just a plain barber shop? Nevertheless The woman is usually always free in view of this and I use her as I'm not too fussed about whether a man or woman cuts my hear.
Every time I visit I am accompanied by Galia and the routine is exactly the same each time. this is namely to have the cut short on the left and right side as well as the back but only a little trimmed on the top. I explain this each time in Bulgarian and it is understood and implemented.
When the work is finished I hand over 4 leva and thank you to the woman. All is fine and everyone happy.. No issues, simple transaction of service for cash which incidentally is clearly advertised on the wall in the shop. I do know that because Galia is there there will be no issues anyway. Often I do wander what would happen if she wasn't present with me. Actually I have been to other local hairdressers many time on my own and there is a prejudice on many occasions, so would the same thing happen?
Today, I went to this particular hairdressers on my own for the first time since have been back here in Bulgaria in April this year. My gut feeling was it wouldn't be the same without Galia. The woman was free and a little queue waiting for the man, normal as mentioned earlier. I was invited to take the woman's chair ready for the work to begin. I explained yet again in Bulgarian what I wanted. This was understood and the work commenced.
All completed and dusted down, I rose and fetched a 10 lev noted from my wallet handing it over. The woman gingerly felt into her pouch on her apron and slowly raised up a brownish pink coloured 5 lev note. My mind was thinking is there a 1 lev coin held and hidden on the back of the note being handed to me? I looked her in the eye and it was a slightly nervy look she held on her face. With this expression and body language I knew it was a sole 5 leva note being passed over. She was trying it on, and who can blame her for trying as I imagine most would just accept that as it is the British way to just complain after they have left the scene.
Against my British cultured ways, I questioned why the cost was 5 lev and not 4 lev and also pointed and referred to the price list on the wall. She explained that she did a little extra work with my hair on the top. Now I know what she did, and it was exactly the same as all the other times I came here with Galia and was charged the normal going rate of 4 lev.
All said and done she was trying to rip me off for an extra 1 lev and the only reason this was the case that I can think of is that I was not Bulgarian. As stated before, you can't blame her, 1 lev would buy a loaf of bread and give change with it.
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The Haircut
If Galia was there this would not be the case. I more than assume that most think that I am lined with money being a Brit, well that is not the case and I asked for that extra one lev to be handed over. I was expecting some form of protest or argument with that demand. She showed no hesitation in revisiting her apron pouch and drew up a shiny 1 lev coin which she handed over. There was a sense of guilt by the way it exchanged hands. Directly the 1 lev left her hand she turned away to another chore which wasn't there as if she needed a distraction to end the interaction. As I said thank you and goodbye with her back to me, there no reaction from her; and she did hear me. It felt like she had her tail between her legs as she wondered off into a small cabinet to get away from me.
Will I go there again? Of course I will because now she knows I will not be tried to be ripped off again. I'm sure she will remember me. The question is, will she lower the standard of cut in retaliation? Only time will tell. If she does, then I think I will do like so many other there and wait for the man to do the cut.
The funniest thing about this event is if she hadn't had tried to rip me off I would have probably given here a 1 lev tip in anycase.

Being Ill in Bulgaria

Seeing people of my own age around me draws me to compare health. Of course you can't tell how healthy a person is just by looking at them. however you can see how they walk, posture and general body language to give you clues to their wellbeing. One of my great pastime is people watching anyway so when my focus is on someone akin to my age there is bound to be comparisons with myself.
We all have been ill at some point and now it was my turn for a change. Pain is something I can bear when I am in control such as pushing myself physically on my bike or cycling, but pain caused by illness is at the very least an intolerable scenario.
As you get older you put up with aches and pains, it grows upon you gradually that is acceptable it is a message reminding you you're getting older and can't run around like a spring chicken anymore. That doesn't mean you become stagnant, just more careful with excursions for example proper warming up and warming down before and after exercising or thinking first before running for a bus or picking up that heavy box. It took some painful experiences to come to terms with that way.
Well now back in Bulgaria and putting up with a painful left hand for months, which I put down to a history of tension initially taking up the viola after puberty, (long story). Then working in Bulgaria full time in a boiler factory in Bulgaria back in 2007, basically with an active drill in my hand 8 hours a day (I'm left handed). The latter did the most damage. I started up the piano again for a least and hour a day a few months ago and the left hand was giving me problems with tension and stress which gradually got worse, but I persevered. Perhaps I should have read the signs and given it a break. On top of this my cycling requires hours on end of grip on the handlebars, which doesn't do the wrist any favours especially when the weather turned a little damper and colder. So come the end of November it wasn't very comfortable at all.
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The Barrels That Did The Damage
27th November arrived and it was the evening before Rakia Making Day. I had to help get two big barrels full of fermented wine out of my garage and onto a van. It was a cold evening pouring with rain and I had been waiting for half an hour for the van to arrive on the street in these condition. A cold man with no head cover or gloves and soaked through with the thought of rakia making motivating him. The van duly arrived and as I began to lift the first barrel my left wrist cracked under the strain accompanied with a sharp dagger like pain. I worked through the pain on the second barrel and struggled with four heavy sacks of wood. That was it I thought, give it a rest overnight and will be fine in the morning. That evening I took a couple of paracetamol and an early night to bed for a 5:30 rise in the morning and very excited for the Rakia Making Day ahead.
The following morning on waking up before the alarm, I should have gone to the Doctor, but with the excitement and adrenalin of Rakia making in front of me I pushed through the pain and got through the process one-handed, including the driving to the village. It didn't end there, the pain was becoming very close to intolerable now and apples had to be peeling and cut to add to the fresh rakia crying out for them. Galia insisted she should do it but being the fool I am for some reason I have a compulsion for self-suffering and a steeped history for working through pain just for the hell of the challenge. The apples were duly albeit painfully prepared and my left wrist was now transformed into constant pain rather than intermittent with movement. Something quite wrong there now I thought. Still I will rest it overnight and tomorrow with no plans to do anything. It will be fine.
Bed at 11:00 and the pain now was constant increasing to the degree I couldn't sleep no matter what position my hand was in. By 02:30 I was at the end of my tether end and in tears with pain. The wrist was compressed by wrapping in a pair of socks around it to support, but that made no difference. The agony now was completely out of my control and that's where the decision was made to visit the hospital. But I was feeling light-headed and dizzy almost to the point of passing, so I reluctantly had to wake Galia who was in a deep sleep next to me for assistance.
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A&E My First Hospital Call 2:30 am
A taxi was called and we arrived at the local hospital some 10 minutes later. I was seen immediately and examined thoroughly by a team of at least four Doctors in attendance with three nurses in turn. I was laid down on a bed and put on a drip for three hours. I was shaking from cold and nerves as they mentioned that I might be suffering from a stroke!! Bloody Hell was my reaction to that, after all the fitness I do and this? Can't be! I was left to ponder that for quite some time. During this time I was distracted by an argument right by the side of the bed I was lying on with a Gypsy Mother and Daughter demanding a prescription off the Doctor. The argument lasted ages and was very heated in the end they were ordered out of the treatment rooms and had to wait until the day shift started to be served. I found out that this was common that Gypsies often come at night with a free taxi service and free treatment and drugs just because they are treated differently to Bulgarians. they take advantage of this and when given the free drugs sell them on for 100% profit. We (or should I say Bulgarians) have to pay for taxis, medical treatment and prescriptions!) This incident however didn't detract me too much with the pain I was in and the shaking continued.
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Second Hospital for X-Ray
5:00 in the morning and it was a transfer to another hospital, (with a taxi we paid for!) for an x-ray. This hospital was where Galia's Nephew works who I cycle with on occasion. We turned up and an x-ray was made within 10 minutes. Then it was another hospital for an examination from another specialist with addition tests to be made. Another taxi taken and now the third hospital in the space of 12 hours.
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Third Call Yambol's Polyclinic
Whilst waiting to be seen, there were six other parties there all with the same appointment time of 16:30 to see one Doctor. How was that? I was examined and told that there was no stroke but probably just an infection and further blood tests would be taken early tomorrow morning. I was given a prescription two series of injections, (hate those!) one set of tablets, and a powder compound to be mixed with water and drunk. All this cost money including the visits and Doctors seen with tomorrow the promise of more costs. No avoiding this unless you are a Gypsy apparently. Doesn't matter that I'm British and paid National Insurance throughout my working life not that I expect any special treatment as a Brit. 
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Current Medication!
Another night but this time I slept well after a bout of two injections one on each cheek and other prescribed medicine. I  was told no food or drink in the morning prior to the planned hospital tests and duly adhered to instructions turning up with a rumbling stomach. 
Fees paid for blood and urine specimen test although only blood was taken even though we paid for both. the queuing system here is absolute chaos and only though who have no scruples about running up to the treatment room get seen first. A classic case seen here where an overweight man crawled up the corridor as if it was his last walk on earth, then once the surgery door open he was an Olympic Athlete sprinted to the door and getting in before those who had been waiting for their turn. I find it strange that no one complains. I have been told to just keep quite in these situations as many Bulgarians are prejudice on finding out I'm English in confrontational situations. This advice has kept me out of trouble for years even though it is difficult not to express an opinion seeing what goes on..
The blood test was good, all normal, a relief and it was now time to continue with the given drugs and become a passive person for a week. No fitness, no piano, no work on repairs or rebuilding my bike and no driving. Difficult!
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The Cost!
I'm feeling a lot better now, but am reminded again about how old I am and how I should behave. The total cost of this episode amounted to over 100 BG Lev. You just can't afford to be ill here without private health insurance which is something I cam considering right now. But will it get overlooked and on the backburner when I am fit again? Probably......That's what the vast majority of people do here in Bulgaria anyway, take it as it comes, they just don't have disposable income for a, What if?', scenario on health.
So now when I people watch and see individuals my age and compare health, I know that at any point in time health can change without warning, that doesn't stop you trying to look after yourself though to reduced the risk factor which I will continue to do. Beside I feel that investment in fitness is cheaper than investment in health insurance which I can 'Ill afford,' on my small pension here.


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