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Watch Out For Over-eager People Who Want To Help.
cwo3ward @ 09/ 12/ 2009

We were in the Rome Termini train station standing on the platform where we would catch our next train. I pulled out our tickets to check the departure time and car we should get in. All of a sudden, I see an Italian man running around the corner and down the platform towards me. He rushes up and apparently wants to help me make sure we get on the train OK. But, being cautious about people, I immediately thought something was wrong and I ignored the man. He was way too intent on "helping us".

I smelled a scam, but didn't know what it might be. So, I walked down the platform toward our train car. The man had gone ahead and followed my wife into our train car. He was motioning for me to hurry up and follow him. I wanted to get away from this guy, because I was growing more uneasy and I slipped into the train car door nearest me. I walked through the train car and put my suitcase into the luggage racks. At the same moment, the man came rushing down the aisle and tried to pull the suitcase off the rack and was motioning that we should go to the seats where my wife was waiting. I told the man "no, no" and insisted that he leave the suitcase alone. He started shouting and acting insulted as though I didn't appreciate the help he was trying to give me. I ignored that too and went to sit down. The man got off the train and left.

I wondered about this for a long time after we got back from our trip to Italy. Had the man really been trying to help us? But why did he come running down the platform, seemingly so concerned that we get on the right train? I felt a bit guilty about being rude, but I was certain that a scam was involved somehow.

Today, I read a Rick Steves story about how scam artists insist on helping people find their train seat and help them with their luggage. Then, they demand a tip for doing so. Apparently most people don't want to make a scene and just pay them. Now I know my instincts were right! Beware of people who are WAY too helpful, over-the-top helpful. They usually have making a fast Euro in mind!

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