Friday, March 7, 2008

the friendliest strangers in the country

there's a funny contrast among people in the street in this country's cities. A majority are the city stereotype who wouldn't turn around and look even if you stood naked on their way to work/metro/school/wherever else people go to at 8:30 am. And then there are the eager homeless who, it seems, look forward each day to be bumped into.

Yesterday afternoon I was stopped by a wild-haired guy in the street (crazy eyes and all) who said, 'I beg your do you do dear?', and waited for my reply. I wasn't sure how an American would respond to that. I was flustered. So I smiled, told him I was well and kept walking. Today, while walking to work, an apparently homeless guy at burger king where I go to get breakfast sometimes, profusely excused himself even though he wasn't really in my way (oh excuse me, sweetie, I'm so sorry...). I tried to say it's okay and for some reason ended up mouthing a hi (?)-- Still trying to develop the American quickness at the etiquette. He was delighted, replied with an enthusiastic hello, waited for perhaps a chat as I politely smiled and scuttered to the door.

On my first time in the metro, I decided to take pride in my absolute ineptness at directions, BE the ignorant fresh off the boat desi. I asked any and everyone for directions within and outside the station (almost everyone in the american public portfolio except the spanish). As it often happens at 12 pm, there was nobody but an old, homeless black guy in my train to wheaton. He was most helpful, avuncular even, and was so dedicated to my making it to Wheaton Mall that he accompanied me to the street in front of it. I was so grateful. I called Taimoor and told him about it.

And of course he told me to be careful that my friend wouldn't follow me home on my way back.

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