American tourists in Europe this summer are being routinely denied ice, even as they attempt to selflessly complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Reports from hundreds of Americans visiting the old continent say restaurants and even expensive hotels with fancy lobbies and mustachioed bellboys are refusing to provide the large buckets of ice needed to raise money for the ALS Association, which helps to fund research for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Christie Bai, a University of California junior, said she and her best friend Sonia were in a cafe in Venice when they learned through Facebook they had been called out to do the challenge — or donate $100 if they failed to comply within 24 hours.
“So I was like, sure, I’ll do it,” said Bai, a business major who is described by friends as very open-minded. “So then I was like, excusez-moi, signore, and the guy came, and I was like, can I have a bucket of ice, s’il vous plaît?”
Bai says the Italian waiter shook his head, which made her believe he failed to understand her passable French, so she showed the YouTube video of her friend Nathan pouring ice over his head, afterwards naming the two women as the next participants. When the waiter continued to refuse, Bai says she became irate.
“I told him it was for a good cause, that it was for research, but he was so freaking rude,” she said. “We didn’t leave a tip, and we were like, ‘ciao asshole.’”
Bai is joined in the sour experience many of her fellow countrymen, some of whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers helped to liberate Europe from the Nazis in WWII.
“This is an outrage,” said Judith Schultz, a retired teacher from Seattle who is in France with her family to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. “My father came through here in 1944 with the 4th Infantry Division, but do you think these unhelpful frogs might thank us by offering my six grandkids a few dozen pounds of crushed ice, a plastic bucket, free Wi-Fi to upload the video, and a stack of clean white towels scented with lavender so afterwards these fine kids can dry off in comfort? Where’s the gratitude?”
Tyler Franks, a tattoo artist from Omaha who has been backpacking through Europe since June, says he and his girlfriend Kayla were tagged to do the challenge on his birthday. They did some sit-ups to harden their abs, put on their swimsuits, and went down to the lobby of the Prague hostel where they were staying. When they humbly demanded the night clerk fill their duffel bag with ice, they were met with a cruel response.
“The chick tried to make us believe they didn’t have an ice machine, which is ridiculous, because it’s a huge place and it has really high reviews on Hostelworld.com,” Franks said. “I really liked the Czech Republic before that, but not now, so we’re going to Sweden in hopes of getting the bounty of fresh, frozen water that is our natural right.”
The organization Americans for Free Ice Abroad, whose goal is to raise awareness for the plight of U.S. citizens who are refused ice while travelling, has witnessed a spike in the number of people contacting them with stories of mistreatment oversea, mostly in regards to the ALS challenge. Americans for Free Ice Abroad has created a Facebook page where victims can relate their harrowing experiences, and maybe find comfort in knowing they are not alone. You may also email the group’s founder Richard Omega at firstname.lastname@example.org.