Last week I was visited one of my favorite pubs in Odessa, Ukraine called Mick O’Neills. I enjoy practicing my Russian language skills while I am in Odessa and this pub is a particularly safe place to do it. Mick O’Neills is a place that foreigners go while visiting Odessa and because of this the bartenders and waitstaff speak excellent english. I have found that if I give a nice tip usually the bartender is happy to help me practice and for a few dollars it ends up being a great way to learn Russian from a native speaker. A pint for the confidence and a great Russian lesson what could go wrong?
Unfortunately due to the economic situation in Ukraine sometimes foreigners treat bartenders and waitstaff with total disrespect and believe that by leaving a small tip of 50 UAH (less than $2 USD) that they can get away with this. So on this particular evening as I sit speaking to the bartender in my terrible Russian in come two foreigners who appeared to be intoxicated. They sit down next to me and order themselves some beers. After the drinks arrive and the bartender asks for payment they begin trying to negotiate the price of the drinks. The bartender politely informs them that the price is the price and there is no negotiation. Keep in mind a beer in Ukraine is about 35 UAH (or about $1.00) so trying to negotiate the price really couldn’t yield a very profitable return even if it was possible to do. The men proceed to demand some sort of discount and now the conversation is turning into an argument. I’m sitting there becoming annoyed because these men have not only interrupted my Russian lesson but now they are yelling at my friend. So I decided to take the situation into my own hands and asked the bartender to buy the guys a shot of local vodka on my tab. Keep in mind the cost of local vodka in Odessa is negligible probably only 25 UAH (or about $0.90 USD). This seemed to distract them for a few minutes and I was able to go about my business. Eventually the men started to engage me in conversation and again looking to argue. So my solution? Every time these guys try to talk to me I buy them another shot of vodka. After about 30 minutes and $9 worth of shitty vodka the men got up, demanded their check, and stumbled out.
Don’t get me wrong, when your in Ukraine enjoy a vodka. Its the national beverage, its cheap, doesn’t taste that bad, and gives you a little buzz. What I recommend against is drinking 5-6 servings of it because I guarantee this will give you the worst hangover of your life. With that being said I wouldn’t be surprised if those guys spent the rest of their nights hugging the toilet.
In hindsight the safest play for me would have been to just pay my tab and leave but come on I wanted to finish my language lesson! Do you agree the way I solved this problem? Share why (or why not!) in the comments below!