This week we had an elaborate border crossing from Laos to Vietnam. We waved passports at windows. Walked across no-man’s land. Greased palms. Waited. Then tried to get on a bus that was midway through its journey from Savannakhet to Hue. The bus conductor was keen, but a minibus driver claimed us as his turf. They got in a fight. The bus conductor threw down my suitcase and stalked off in a huff, orphaning us. The minibus driver tried to lure us to his vehicle. We refused to go. Went back to the bus. The conductor took us back.
Getting off the bus in Hue, we were assailed by competing taxi drivers. They tried to talk to both of us, together and separately. We haggled. We eventually got a taxi.
Which all got me thinking about CHAIN OF COMMAND. When traveling in a group and dealing with people trying to sell you stuff in an aggressive, swarming fashion, one person has to be in charge. Otherwise the sellers will divide and conquer. They will sow dissent and confusion in your ranks. You’ll agree to one amount, your companion(s) to another. Chaos will reign. You will pay more.
Nominate a ringleader. Give the sellers only one face to deal with. Even it means suppressing a natural urge to take control.