Monday, February 25, 2013

I'm still learning

This morning our gardener went into the refrigerator and took out a tomato. I never saw him to that before today. Ten minutes later he came back and took another one. I thought, "He must be hungry. I never see him in the kitchen." Ten minutes later I went outside and there he was with the two tomatoes cut open. The flesh was gone, but the seeds were on the cement. His purpose was to pick out the seeds to start new tomato plants with them, but the first tomato was seedless. I knew that one must start new tomatoes with seeds, but I never saw it done in such a way. It was an eye opening morning.

On Saturday, I saw a girl (about 12 years old) and two adult women at the Jesuit Center. I was in my car getting ready to go to Mass. I figured they were Iraqi waiting for church to begin. I asked, "Can I help you?," but the language difficulty couldn't generate a conversation. The girl said, "We are waiting for church." I, in sign language, tried to tell her that the door was unlocked. She shouted back at me, "La," which means "no." Expressively, I told her the door was open, but she said, "la." I finally sent her up the stairs, asked her to put her handle on the door knob, and then turn it. She went up and did what I said, except she didn't turn the knob. She just pulled. She ran down and said, "It is locked." I encouraged her to come up the stairs with me to show her how to turn the knob. She said, "It is locked." I turned the knob and opened the door and she looked at me and shouted, "I'm stupid."

It crushed me. Women here have such poor esteem because they are often told by men that they are nothing. I was trying to help her have a success and it turned into a failure. She thinks she is no good, poor thing. We had such a difficult time communicating that she could not understand my words to validate her. I'm haunted by it because I know it happens too frequently.

I went to a meeting this morning and the drivers were particularly bad. I was even following someone I knew and she didn't use her directionals at all. On the way back, some drivers were very slow. I was on Al-Razi Street and behind someone who was just plugging along. I adopted the Jordanian custom and gave a short honk to hasten him along. Traffic was steady in the opposite direction. This man decides to do what many Jordanians do. He stopped outside a cigarette market just as if he was double parked. It was right in the middle of the road. I honked again and he threw up his arms, like I was bothering him because why would I deprive him of his cigarettes.

I honked again because now I was too close to him. I couldn't pass because of the traffic in the other direction. I couldn't back up because of the long line of cars. I honked longer and now he was upset. I'm saying to myself, "This is ordinary driving behavior here." He still didn't move and he didn't get out to get cigarettes. I honk again and now he is upset. Finally two men come by and push his car down the hill. Still, no one can pass and he is moving 2 mph. His engine had stopped and he is in neutral as he is just coasting down the hill. He doesn't pull over to let others pass. He just keeps creeping along. I followed him .8 of a kilometer until I turned into the Jesuit Center. I wonder how far he made it.

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