A few weeks ago, maybe months even, I wrote about the bus driver who drove away from me when I was so close, so so close, I thought he must have been mis-handled as a child; which may have damaged his sense of empathy (or sympathy).
Unfortunate what our upbringing can do to us.
Today, something quite the opposite of the experience above happened to me; which means that I can disapprove my previous thesis.
Counter Thesis: There exists bus drivers who were loved and nurtured as babies; and are therefore friendly, well adjusted, lovely people. These great servants of the people do actually step on the breaks, smile and wait for you. They smile. Yes they do.
Proof: This morning, the bus number 526 was almost driving off the bus stop when I, in my regular “just a few seconds late” tempo, came running, huffing & puffing. He saw me, literally stepped on the breaks and waited for me to huff & puff into the bus.
“good morning!!” he said, all happy
“huff & puff. wheeze. cough. good morning to you too!” I said in surprise
“It is a new day, with new challenges and surprises!” he keeps on
“wheeze. cough. sure is. sure is. A great day. Fantastic day” I say looking closely at to him to make sure that he is OK
That all the horses are home. That all the nuts are screwed on right. That he isn’t off his hook.
My “all the nuts are screwed on right” radar lights green. Seems a regular chap to me. In a good mood and kind to the core.
“Have a nice day!” he says when I got off the bus at Odenplan
Conclusion: There exists bus drivers who were not abused or neglected as children. Thank heavens for small mercies.
Delusional, I know. I am born Kenyan. So I feel a kind of pride in the name Obama, though according to his birth certificate, he is American. Most of the jury in my head is still out on that one.
I am a woman, so I feel my feathers flutter every time Mr Obama, the man, not the president smiles. More on that later.
Back to presidential matters, I will remember Obama’s commitment to reminding us all of our responsibility, to not only seek change but also, to foster the positive changes that have improved society. See his speech at the women’s rights conference held last summer:
“We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure, and our boys to be assertive; that criticizes our daughters for speaking out, and our sons for shedding a tear.
We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs. We need to change an Internet where women are routinely harassed and threatened when they go online.
We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, penalizes working moms. We need to keep changing the attitude that prioritizes being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace — unless you’re a woman.
We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color.
[…] We need all our young people to know that Clara Barton and Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth and Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Height, those aren’t just for Women’s History Month. They’re the authors of our history, women who shaped their destiny. They need to know that.
A woman did not magically appear on a space shuttle. It took Sally Ride’s relentless commitment, Mae Jemison’s boundless courage to shatter that glass ceiling…
Rosa Parks wasn’t simply a tired seamstress who sat down by accident. She was a civil rights leader with the eye of a strategist and the heart of a warrior. She had the confidence to board on that bus, the courage to risk her own life and liberty for the sake of ours.
That’s the story that’s still being written, today, by our modern-day heroes like Nancy Pelosi or Sonia Sotomayor or Billie Jean King or Laverne Cox or Sheryl Sandberg or Oprah Winfrey or Mikaila Ulmer or Michelle Obama — the countless ordinary people every day who are bringing us closer to our highest ideals.
That’s the story we’re going to keep on telling, so our girls see that they, too, are America — confident and courageous and, in the words of Audre Lord, ‘deliberate and afraid of nothing.'”
Back to non-presidential matters; when Mr. Obama finally swaggers away from me, away from us, I really really really want to crank call Michelle in the middle of the night and ask her “why you??!”. Of course we all know the answer to that question. The lady is gracious, stylish and classy!
I don’t want to be attracted to the Obama the president, because that could lead to Lewinsky:sh problems. As we have learned, this could ruin one’s best years, especially if Michelle turned Hillary:sh.
In December, I read an interesting piece which challenged gentlemen to avoid Scandinavia because their services were really not needed. Or appreciated.
Today, on my way home from work on the commuter train, the presence of a gentleman made itself felt. And I immediately remembered the piece referred to above. So when I got home, I googled away and found it. So I could share it with you.
An old man stood beside me on the commuter train. He looked really tired & uncomfortable. He spoke softly to me or maybe to anyone who would listen about how crowded the train was. It really was the most crowded train and all seats were taken. So when we came close to the next stop, the old man started to look around in case something became available.
Things move fast in commuter trains in Stockholm at rush hour. Especially for an older gentleman. Chances were very slim that he would move fast enough to actually occupy a seat before anybody else.
There was a young gentleman standing behind us, not that we knew of him; until he came to the old man and asked “would you like to sit?” old man answered gratefully without hesitation “yes, please!”
We thought the gentleman had a seat to offer. He didn’t. He made it his business to find a seat. He walked off behind us, asked some young men who were sitting if they could get up for the older gentleman. The train had started moving. A seated young man stood up immediately. Our gentleman came back to the old man, held him and walked him to the vacated seat. Slowly, warmly, lovingly.
My heart has melted. I have feels all over the place.
We young, strong, attractive feminists who can support ourselves on our own feet & backs may not need gentlemen anymore, but that doesn’t mean that a gentleman’s presence is not needed or appreciated.
If you feel gentlemanly and gallant, serve those who need it most! Only, when you are done helping the old man, or the old lady, or the sick, please lift your eyes and look around! We young, strong, attractive feminists are watching, appreciating, getting all those fuzzy feels and some of us are single and looking.
At 02:00 am, 5 children are standing outside the 3 bedroom house. The youngest boy is between 4-5 years old. He is shaking. Crying. The sister, 14 years old is holding his hand. She too is shaking, but silent. The man. Husband. Father. is beating his wife inside the house. Shouting obscenities.
She is a slut. A whore. He should never have married her. She is useless. a nobody. He should never have had children with her. He could have had better children with someone else. She is uneducated. Stupid. Dirty. Cannot cook. Even her sisters are whores. And her daughters, 2 of them standing outside, will be whores.
After about 15 minutes, the wife manages to run out, by the back door. She runs to the nearest neighbor. As she has done before. The neighbor lets the beaten wife in. Closes the door behind her. The neighbor stands outside waiting for him to come huffing and swearing. As he has done before. She advises him without pleasantries: “walk back and come tomorrow when you are sober”. He walks back as instructed. walks by his children without looking at them. gets into the house. locks himself in the house and starts throwing things around in the house. Alone.
The children walk to the neighbor. To their mother. As they have done before. In the morning, the 14 year old daughter requests the mother to not go back.
daughter: “we can go start another life. We can go to your sister for a while, before we start over. we can start a vegetable kiosk and rent our own place. I can help out mom! please”
2nd born son: “I can also help out. We can do it!”
Mother: “I will not leave with 5 children! When he met me I had no children, if I leave him, I will leave without children. Where would I take 5 children?”
This has been said before.
When he comes for her in the course of the day, “sober”, sheepish and “sorry”; she smiles and goes back with him. Takes the children back with her.
Next morning while preparing breakfast:
Wife to a friend: “he always comes back for me. He doesn’t want me to leave him really, it is the alcohol. And when he is not drunk, he is the most wonderful man”
daughter; looking scornfully at her mother: ” wonderful?! when? we can’t even listen to the radio with him in the house. that hurts his head. We can’t laugh loud because only barmaids laugh out loud. You can’t visit your sister, because she left her husband and is therefore a bad influence”
Wife, ignoring the radio & the laugh aloud statements: “what has she achieved by leaving him? she lives in 2 rooms with 3 children and she is struggling to send them to school??! a woman should make her family work.”
daughter: “well, congratulations mom! you are making your family work!”
Wife to youngest boy who just woke up whimpering: “did you wet your bed again??! No one else of my children has wet their bed this late! What is wrong with you?!
The boy continues to whimper. He hides behind his 14 year old sister. The sister hugs him and gets up to go help him out of the wet clothes. The mother. wife. woman continues to speak to her friend about the wonderful “sober” husband. And about the abnormal boy. child. son. who still wets his bed at the mature age of 5.
I have been on vacation. 3 weeks. It was great, well needed and well deserved after one of the toughest years of my life. I didn’t know this before but when a flight is cancelled, well, when my flight home from vacation was cancelled, the airline (#Turkish-airlines) booked a five star hotel.
I will tell this story properly.
I wake up; or rather, get up from bed since I cannot claim to have slept. I raised my body from bed at 02:30 am. So instead of sleeping on the night of the flight, I watched Alex, Gloria, Marty & the gang for the 16th time in my life. For your info, I plan to watch these crazies again because I need to remember the names of the penguins and the giraffe.
Moving on, I arrive at the airport with the taxi guy who seems to be more awake than me although he has been up all night too. For 3 seconds, I wonder if he is on something, and if it is something I can get on; but my brain capacity is too low at this hour for a deeper analysis. So I keep mum and look forward to the flight. On arrival at the airport, a young, thin, tall guy offers to help with my bags for an unspecified fee. His body & height reminds me of my younger brother.
I am in Africa, I think, “how much can this possibly cost me?”, I nod without knowing (I haven’t slept yet) and he starts to unload my two bags before I knowledge his offer. I guess he thinks “what can she do with the local currency she has left after vacation?” and he answers himself “she can leave that with me!” Anyhow, I often tell my colleagues that I like people who take initiative so here I am, with an initiative taker, and what better chance to prove to myself that I am a woman of my word.
Initiative taker asks absentmindedly, “which flight are you taking?” I answer sleepily “Turkish”. Pity I can’t nod an answer. It is such an effort to speak to strangers when you are tired, sleepy and not looking pretty at almost 03:00 in the morning. Have I brushed my teeth or does my breath stink?! crosses my mind too.
“Turkish is cancelled” initiative taker says absently and continues to place my 2 bags on the wagon. Big bag weighs 14.4kg and small bag weighs 9.87kg. Yes, I am that person. I weigh my bags before I go to the airport to avoid over baggage that I have to pay for or leave. I also have a cabin bag that weighs 4.7kg. I am waaay under my max.
“did you say Turkish is cancelled?” I ask in my sleep. And then I wake up. “DID YOU SAY TURKISH IS CANCELLED???!!!!???” I ask awake.
“yes” initiative taker replies and starts to push the luggage wagon towards the check in entrance. I have the desire to swing my hand baggage at his back but I resist. And smile at his back.
We choose our thoughts, our thoughts decide our actions, our actions set our characters, our characters point us to our destiny.
“which Turkish flight is cancelled?” I ask with the tone I use for “can I have a cup of tea please?” That takes an effort.
“All of them. bad weather in Turkey”. Initiative taker informs me as if to say “yes, ma’am, tea coming up”
“So what does that mean for us travelers” I ask.
“I don’t know” risk initiative taker says
He pushes the wagon to the entrance towards the check in and he turns around with his palm open for the not agreed upon payment. I give him a fifty. he smiles, thanks me and says “safe journey!” We are many with our different disorders and there is no medication for most of our disorders so I forgive risk initiative taker and move on fast. I take my luggage and enter check in.
There are others waiting to check in. Information is scarce to begin with. A couple is fighting at the airport about who decided to book with what airline and who told who that it wasn’t a good decision.
Regardless, within the hour, we all sit on a bus on our way back to the city. Fighting couple sit at different corners of the bus. The lady (one half of fighting couple), in the front, close to the driver, questioning the driver while simultaneously speaking to someone on the phone in Spanish, dictating which other flights may be bookable at this hour. Gentleman (2nd half of fighting couple), at the back, closes his eyes and relaxes into the bus ride. By 05:00, we are back in the city, booked at a five star hotel, invited to breakfast and a warm cozy bed. My head nods to breakfast & sleep in wait for the re-booking of new flights. I contact work between naps to let them know I will be delayed.
3 days and 2 nights later, the flight home is successful and I have added one more experience to my list of: 1st time it happened to me and I didn’t hate it. I am so impressed and humbled by the experience of a cancelled flight. Because of this experience, I will not panic next time an initiative taker casually says “flight is cancelled”.
I will probably go “oh, really?! with joker’s smile on my face”