The Nice Thing About Strangers

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

The Humbling Scenes: Part II

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.

–Izmir, Turkey

izmir agora

8 comments on “The Humbling Scenes: Part II

  1. Beauty Along the Road
    November 1, 2015

    Nothing as humbling as learning a new language and how to navigate around a new place…still, people are so kind everywhere.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      November 3, 2015

      I agree! People have been generous, kind, open, and they even enjoy my mistakes. 🙂 I suppose I should do the same.

  2. thenicethingaboutstrangers
    October 12, 2016

    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.

  3. cindy knoke
    October 12, 2016

    How scarey for you and stressful too~

  4. V.J.
    October 12, 2016

    What a story – you are so courageous.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 17, 2016

      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.

  5. Alison and Don
    October 12, 2016

    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.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 17, 2016

      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!

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