The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

The Light in the Fridge

Of course, I’m chatting with the driver of the shuttle from the parking lot to the Boston airport terminals. The minute I walked up to the bus he said, “Look at you, so happy!” After this sort of greeting, I can’t just turn back to my text messages. Instead, he tells me about his first winter in Boston. He’s originally from Ethiopia, and though this winter has been rough, he said the worst was his first.

When he first arrived in America, his cousin came to greet him, bearing a coat and several layers. When they left this very airport for the parking lot, my driver asked, “Are we in the basement?” Back home the only cold level in a house was the basement. There was no heating or air conditioning back home. It was important to him that he firmly established the contrasts with “back home,” but he did so with glee and good timing.

So later that day at his cousin’s house, he began to feel warmer, not realizing the home had been heated. He believed he had just magically acclimated to the cold or that it wasn’t so cold after all. When they planned to go out in the afternoon, he saw the sun in the sky and insisted he wouldn’t need a any winter gear.

His cousin opened the refrigerator and indicated the light bulb that illuminated the space. “This light bulb is like that sunshine outside. It does not make things warm.” The driver stayed firm until they opened the door to the house, the burst of cold air chased them back, and his cousin moved slowly, slowly, slowly while getting things ready to leave. So my driver had a convenient chance to change his mind, to bundle up, and even with the coat, he remembers the cold as he drives. He shivers even now with a laugh, delighted to tell his story of firsts.

–Boston airport.
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6 comments on “The Light in the Fridge

  1. gwelzel
    April 1, 2015

    Reblogged this on gwelzel and commented:
    For example:

  2. davecenker
    April 1, 2015

    We’ve each had our own “light bulb” moment to be sure 😉 This story reminds me of the quote by Anais Nin, “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” We are shaped by our own experiences. Our decisions are influenced by what we know and what we have seen, heard, and felt. And sometimes, it’s stories like this that remind us of that and help us to remain open to new perspectives. Thanks for sharing Paige, I always enjoy your thoughtful reflections 😉

  3. M-R
    April 1, 2015

    And no embarrassment about his mistake ! Unlike we the more ‘civilized’, eh, Paige ? We could learn from the simpler people, and that’s a fact.

  4. joannerambling
    April 2, 2015

    Liked this

  5. My early years were in southern Ontario, Canada and for anyone who has not had the ‘pleasure’ of a gorgeous sunny day at -45F (-52F with windchill), well, life has yet to be lived to the fullest…and there are actually places much colder! That kind of cold has a stark yet striking beauty and when daylight yields to night one shudders at the notion of a power failure. The near constant hum of the furnace is a persistent reminder of the painful bite of the great outdoors. Like bears, we would hibernate.

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