Bad things can happen in life, which we have no control of. Like, for example, getting arrested in another country, as an international crime suspect. Last thing one would expect to face while traveling with your bestie. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have read recently that I was arrested, as well as my promise to write about it and share this “life time” experience. :))
Ten years ago I traveled to Belgrade with my bestie, Erna, on a book fair. We were very excited (it was our first trip together, and we both love books), and we planning to have a lot of fun there (ending up in custody, and being interrogated by international crime detectives was not the kind of fun we had in mind! :)).
Long story short, the moment we arrived to Belgrade, due to crazy circumstances (the ticket for the fair which we bought was false), we suddenly got surrounded by a team of armed security guards, and then were taken into police station. We were sent to our first interrogation, which lasted for hours. Instead of enjoying, buying good books on the fair… we were sitting in the police station and being interrogated about every single detail of our trip and how we had the (un)fortunate ticket.
Back to our adventure in police station… After the first interrogation which lasted for a very looooong time, a police car came to transfer us into another police department, specialised for an international crime (since we were from another country).
We were sitting in the back seat, behind the bars, in the police car, while two police officers were taking us to international crime police station. Me and my friend had all different emotions mixed up at the same time. We were totally frustrated because our trip went way out of plan, we did not know when we will be released back to freedom, when we will return home… But, at the same time, we were laughing like crazy! The thought itself that we are in a custody under international crime charges was hilarious.
While we were being driven in a police car, like two criminals, we were laughing that we were thinking how great it would be if we find some time after buying all the books we wanted, to do some sight seeing, and now we are being driven around the city, free of charge. :))
Once we arrived to international police department, there was another interrogation, by other detective, giving the statements… I need to mention that they were really kind to us, but that feeling of being held in the police station and not being able to have a freedom of movement was not pleasant at all. Also, not knowing when. and whether we will be realised soon out. We could not leave Belgrade until proven innocent.
Once we were proven to be innocent, we were released. We were hungry for freedom, books, and food. We decided to use the best out of the experience, and sworn that we are not leaving Belgrade without all the books we wanted to buy, and doing some sight seeing (only, this time not in the police car! :)). We did some shopping, bought a ton of books, and had a delicious meals in restaurants, enjoyed coffee with a view, long walks…
The twist in the story actually happened when manager in charged of the book fair found out about our painful experience, gave us a personal apology, and arranged that we get a V.I.P. treatment. We got a hotel room booked, a personal driver and a car, access to all the events on the fair…
We enter into a Belgrade fair like a criminals, and left as V.I.P. guests, having a shofer take us back to our country, to our door step! We certainly had the most unforgettable experience. Once we returned home, and I told all the story to my friends back in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they (each and everyone) said:
“You are so lucky! I wish I have been arrested, too!”
LIFE LESSON LEARNED: BAD THINGS CAN TURN OUT TO BE (ACTUALLY) GOOD THINGS IN THE LONG RUN
Unexpected things happen in life, which are beyond our control. But, what we can always control is how we will react on what happened.
We can always chose to laugh on it. We can chose to see it as a life lesson. To see it as a life changing experience. To see it as something that can bring some positive experience later on (like in case with me and my friend: if we did not get arrested, we would not have gotten a V.I.P. treatment later).
Shouting, yelling, crying, getting desperate… will not help us. Instead of going down to Negative Nancy Lane, it is better to accept what happened, take the lesson out of it, and focus on finding the solution!
After this experience, I chose to see unexpected, even “bad” things, as a road to something else, perhaps more fun, or more adventurous, or more valuable in the long run. Obstacles and “bad” events in life our very often detours in the right, another, unexpected, or better direction.
ADDITIONAL LIFE LESSON LEARNED: ALWAYS CARRY MORE MONEY WHEN TRAVELING (AS YOU NEVER KNOW)
When me and my friend had to stay longer than we planned in Belgrade, we had to buy new phone charger, few other things, and even some clothes. You never know what can happen while traveling (you may just end up in police station! :)), so it is important to have some extra money, just in case!
BUSINESS LESSON LEARNED: HOW TO CORRECT (VERY) BAD CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Looking back today, I only have the words of praise for the manager of Belgrade fair. Not only he gave a personal apology, but he also made sure that he over-compensates for a very bad experience that me and my friend Erna went trough. Yes, he did spend a lot of money doing so, but he avoided bad press, us “spitting” on his event, and renting via Facebook and face to face, to our friends, about how we were treated like criminals.
There is nothing more dangerous for business than a very humiliated and angry customer, and there is no money which can buy people’s trust and ruined reputation of the brand, after getting a ton of bad reviews and negative press.
So, I’ve learned a smart lesson that if a client or customer gets “hurt” in any way, or dissatisfied (no matter who’s fault it was!), the smart thing to do is apologise, and OVERcompensate for the mistake (a.k.a. treat them like V.I.P.)!
So, now, my friends, you know all about my “dark” past, too :))) Looking forward to read the feedback from you about the post! I would like to know if you had any “bad” experience which turned out to be a good one, or a bad customer experience?