Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
So I knew I couldn’t walk to my Turkish class, and would need another plan. I stared at a map and felt some vague hope that if I went to a metro station I knew, I could probably walk the rest of the way to the school. Perhaps. Just in case, I leave 90 minutes early. However, to get in the metro, you need a special card, and I learned I couldn’t buy that card at 7 in the morning. A man at a market assured me that a bus driver would let me pay in cash. So I waited in a long line for a morning bus. I boarded and only then learned that I could not–in fact–pay the driver.
I would have considered it a victory for my Turkish language skills to understand the driver, if he hadn’t been sullenly saying, “If you don’t have a card, don’t get on the bus. Get out.” A pile of people were pouring in behind me and I had no way to return to the street. A woman in the front row handed me her card to use, and despite her protests, I gave her the change the driver wouldn’t take. She had no idea what this meant to me. Later I watched her glare at the driver in the mirror above his seat. God bless her.
I moved to the back and stood shoulder to shoulder with other passengers, I had to swallow m pride and use my flawed Turkish in front of all my neighbors in order to ask a woman where I should get out of the bus. She kept saying the names of stations, which I didn’t recognize as stations, and I gave her a lot of smiles while thinking, “I’m just going to have to take a taxi.” Another woman noted my glazed panic, recognized my school, and walked me to the proper street before going off to her own work for the day.
It had been a while, to be honest, since I had been so lost in a city. I’ve gotten in the habit of going to places I know, where I can navigate the city without having to ask anyone, and where I know what to expect. Here, I am foreign again. Here, I have to be humble and allow others to have mercy on me. They did so with kindness, and my need reminded me to be grateful. This is also a part of finding my way.
Nothing as humbling as learning a new language and how to navigate around a new place…still, people are so kind everywhere.
I agree! People have been generous, kind, open, and they even enjoy my mistakes. 🙂 I suppose I should do the same.
Reblogged this on The Nice Thing About Strangers and commented:
🙂 Part II. I am heading back to Turkey soon and I still get a moment of anxiety before I board a bus–even with the proper bus pass and even with a sense of my route. Still finding my way.
How scarey for you and stressful too~
What a story – you are so courageous.
Haha, thank you. I don’t usually feel brave over here. I feel like I am a source of humor for others. 🙂 I guess that can be a vocation.
The kindness of strangers. We encounter it all the time. It’s one of the most wonderful things about travel isn’t it. You’ll have the right bus pass, and a sense of where you’re going. You’ll be fine. Of course you already know this. Have fun.
I have been hoping that one day I could have the right bus pass and get someone else on board. 🙂 I keep waiting at the ready!
It’s so true that we can find the kindness of strangers when we are willing to look and to accept this kindness.
Thank you, Alison!