Everyone who knows me knows how much I love Spain. But there was one particularly nasty incident that marred my experience in the country, and it happened in Toledo. Everybody raves about how beautiful this city is, and there’s no denying that. But instead of walking along the river and enjoying the atmosphere of the UNESCO Heritage Site (weather was perfect that fine day in May), I spent hours in the police station crying after a shopkeeper attacked me.
And you know what? NOBODY HELPED ME. Everyone was just looking at us but NOBODY LIFTED A FINGER to extract her grip from my arm.
Her nails left me bleeding
My sister and I decided to do a day trip to the old Moorish city of Toledo from Madrid last year (May 2015). There we took our lunch and walked around the city, sightseeing. We stumbled upon this shop to buy some souvenirs:
My sister and I bought some tiles and bracelets to take home with us as gifts and memoirs from our trip. Little did we know that day was not one we would like to remember. After our lunch, I realised one of the bracelets I had bought was broken. I went back to the shop to ask for an exchange, thinking they would be fine with it since we bought so many things with them. But they wouldn’t have any of it. The African-European (?) lady was initially giving me attitude, but the short-haired blonde shopkeeper took over and slammed the replacement on the counter.
“FINE HERE YOU GO,” she snaps in Spanish. “BUT THIS IS THE LAST TIME YOU CAN DO THIS.”
She didn’t make an effort to hide her acrimony.
Not one to take a horrible attitude like this from anyone, I replied: “Why are you talking to me like that? We gave you so much business and bought so many things from you, you shouldn’t treat your customers like this.”
Her face contorts into a mask of anger. She starts yelling “you come into my house and speak to me like this you bitch! Get out!” She points at the door.
I was so angered by her attitude that I started taking a video of her throwing a tantrum.
All hell breaks loose.
The shopkeeper launches herself at me and tries to grab my phone. She’s furious that I’m taking her video. She thinks she has the right to take my phone from me to erase her video. She’s screaming at me to erase the video on my phone, but I won’t. Her casher – initially giving all the attitude – was now trying to calm her boss down and hold her back.
I try to get out of the shop and head to the street, where my sister was waiting for me. The shopkeeper doesn’t release my arm and digs her nails deep into my forearm, causing my skin to tear and bleed. A crowd gathers on the street but nobody helps. People try to find out what’s happening and tell me to just delete the video. The police arrives after 10 minutes or so and takes me away from the witch.
The police take me to the clinic to get a statement, and then to the station to make a report. But all will come to nothing. Whether I have a video of the assault and physical injury or not doesn’t matter. They tell me I have to be present for the court hearing, otherwise this woman goes scot-free.
What am I supposed to do? I’m not going to cancel my flight to Lisbon. They tell me the most she’ll get is a fine of 45 euros anyway. She just managed to ruin me and my sister’s holiday, that’s all.
If you know of any recourse or office that I can complain to, please let me know. It’s been almost a year since the incident but I told myself I would at least try to make a complaint somehow.
I know other tourists experience far more horrible things than I have, and as far as mishaps go this was minor. But I can’t bring myself to brush it off as normal – that I should be okay with a shopkeeper attacking and physically injuring me and leave it at that? What do you think?
Writing from Madrid,