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The art of learning when to offer a ‘bribe’ goes together with the ability to be perceptive/to understand people and their motivations. To be able to easily put yourself in their shoes. To recognize character traits. To notice people’s little ‘tells’ about what they are thinking, if they are lying etc.. You must also be able to take on a ‘role’ like an actor, quickly, to be and act sometimes like you imagine someone else to be.

Here in US, in my personal life, I have not personally felt the need, or been asked for, any thing or favor for anything. However, as a woman, if you need something quickly, need help to have something go smoothly, help usually with local government processes – I have ‘bribed’ people with my time, making a person feel very important, complimenting them. Isn’t that a bribe as well? Well, whatever and however

When I managed commercial ships in the Caribbean and Central/South America yes, I had to learn the art of the bribe. To get ship parts sent into a country where an idle vessel sat waiting for them (charges daily going up), the embassies that needed to put many stupid seals and papers all over a box. The Captains usually took care of the needed bribes for the harbor pilots and inspectors and dock workers outside the country with liquor and cigarettes we kept specifically in great quantities on board. Sometimes he needed to do more – but I asked him not to tell me what. Best not to know. To get a container ship or roll-on/roll-off loaded or unloaded quickly in this country to get in/out and on schedule to get to next port – yes, I quickly had to learn about this.

Most important then was to figure out who was the best person to deal with, that was really in charge. For a title that means they should be in charge, did not mean they were really in charge, the person who really had the influence. To find that purpose takes some skill with people and talking to them, asking quiet questions that are not questions and observing who is really directing things. In these cases, as I was a rare woman in that business/position, acting stupid and clueless would have been dangerous and pointless. For this purpose I had a ‘petty cash’ fund from the owners of the ships (from Europe that understood these things). Cash would have been dangerous/stupid/not legal from union standpoint I guess. I figured out that the best way to get the ship loaded/unloaded, if necessary ahead of the line, was tickets and box seat tickets to box seats I made the owners purchase for the local football or baseball teams in the few US ports we traded through. This was, once found/knew the correct person, a matter of a casual mention that I had some great tickets to these things, but oh I would not be able to use them. And, gosh…changing subject if I could only get this ship loaded by xx time, I might have time to be able to find someone that could use them. That and once established, keeping your word.

I once had a cook on a ship that stopped a ship in the ocean on the way to Romania with cattle hides from Houston. He was holding the Chief Engineer and his crew hostage over a fight about a woman they were both seeing in some port. The were from Phillipines, but the Captain was French Canadian. Captain was about to have a heart attack he was so crazy and what to do? I happened to remember this crew man/cook. He was a very short man and felt he was not given enough respect for what he did from the crew, Captain etc. for all the good food he cooked. (Seaman complain about ship food all the time) I told the Captain that I would, by the way, like to purchase him the best briefcase for his papers that he could find when they came to port (where I was waiting for it) and perhaps the Chief Engineer and his crew needed to help in the kitchen for a week so they understood what he had to deal with; but of course, that might not be for some time because the ship was so delayed – and I would not be able to afford it if the ship was so late we had big charges against us. Issue resolved.

Many stories about bribes. Good subject Selco. It is a skill to be acquired as do think will be needed.