It’s Raining Stupid People

I had just begun the short walk to the nearby grocery store tonight, when a local driver in a parked SUV rolled down his window and threw out a crumpled up piece of paper. While this is an extremely common sight in these parts, creating plentiful litter-scooping jobs for imported brown men, it never ceases to leave me with smoke rolling out my ears. I muttered some choice words under my breath, just in time to witness the backseat passenger roll down his window and follow suit with a handful of napkins. My Confront-a-Jerkometer shot through the roof, and I could not stop myself from yelling,

“SIR!!”

All three men, in their white robes, in their white SUV, turned my way. Their smiles dissipated as I approached the vehicle, angrily gesturing to the trash on the ground. “Your trash is on the ground!” I scolded them, adding, “You should keep your country beautiful!”

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The driver immediately apologized, sounding surprisingly sincere. The man in the backseat jumped out, hastily collecting the litter before returning to his seat in the back. I thanked them and continued to the grocery store, mulling over how non-confrontational and apologetic the local men are here, and possible contributing factors to their careless habits.

What can be said for people who seemingly have neither bad intentions nor good intentions – rather, a general lack of intentions? How do people become so disconnected from, so unconcerned with, the world in which they live? When all a person’s wants and needs have been effortlessly fulfilled, are they left wanting for nil, uninterested in fixing what they don’t believe to be broken? Or do we just have a case of Intentional Assholes on our hands? It’s impossible to tell.

In another case of Things I Probably Shouldn’t Have Said, I made the mistake of asking an Applebee’s waitress what vegetarian dish she would recommend. Under normal conditions, I would never utter the word “vegetarian” to restaurant staff. After 4 years, I have pretty much mastered the skill of eating veg in non-veg places without drawing attention to myself. However, it was late at night, I was exhausted, and I was hoping to get in and out with a “takeaway” order as quickly as possible so as not to keep the taxi driver waiting.

Without missing a beat, the Filipina waitress scoffed at my request, giving me a once over and telling me I don’t need to lose weight. She then proceeded to explain how delicious meat tastes, and suggested a pasta dish with shrimp. I returned the menu to her and walked out, thinking of all the things I wished I would have said.

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At work recently, a 7 or 8-year-old student randomly commented that non-Muslims are going. I asked him where they’re going. He said he didn’t know, but when the world ends, they’re all going away. I laughed and told him the only place I’m going is home, and that I’ll worry about the end of the world if that day comes.

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January has been a Grumpy Cat kind of month. Welcome, February!

Conversations with Young English Learners (Part 5)

I have tutored almost every day this last week! The shifts have been short, but rewarding. A few times, I wound up with four students at once, instead of the maximum three. The students are of varying ages and grade levels, each with their own lesson plan, so four of them at a time requires serious juggling. In the flurry of helping with reading assignments, writing assignments, and quizzes, I regretfully did not get as much one-on-one time to chat (I mean, “practice conversational skills”) with the kids as I like.

Somehow, I still managed to hear about one young student’s weekend plans to go catch crabs at the beach with his family! He described how the last time he and his family went crab hunting, they didn’t go very far out into the water. This weekend, they plan to go much deeper into the water. He stressed how important it is to not kick up the sand in the water when you’re looking for crabs, otherwise you can’t see them. He said to catch the crabs, they wear the kind of gloves that are worn for feeding eagles. He might have been thinking of falcons, since falconry is huge here, but then again, this kid is one smart cookie and I know nothing about crab hunting.

A different boy, probably around 8 years old and very soft spoken, was working on rhyming patterns. For example, in the word “dust,” the rhyming pattern is “ust.” Words that rhyme with “dust” will also have “ust”: trust, just, must, bust, rust. In this instance, I even let students make nonsense rhyming words like pust, gust, wust, zust, just as long as they “get” it. This little guy had to find a rhyme for “duck.” We identified the rhyming pattern as “uck.” I’m sure you see where this is going. I knew there was a small chance it would end explicitly, but figured with TWENTY SIX LETTERS IN THE ENGLISH ALPHABET, SURELY THE KID WOULD NOT PICK THE LETTER F TO MAKE A WORD THAT RHYMES WITH DUCK.

With his big, brown eyes looking right into mine, he innocently, and oh-so-articulately said,

“Fuck.”

I mentally cursed whoever made that stupid workbook before telling him that yes, that rhymes, but let’s think of a different one!

Another boy I worked with has a passion for sharks. When he is instructed to write sentences incorporating new vocabulary words, he writes sentences about sharks. When he is supposed to be reading, he draws sharks. I think it’s great that he is so interested in marine life and art. Good for you, kid! However, his parents would probably not be thrilled to discover the pretty pennies they are paying toward his after school English lessons are funding Shark Sketching 101. He and I made a deal: if he would stay on task with his assignments, the last 5 minutes could be spent on drawing sharks. When the hour was over, he gave me his masterpiece!

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A different hour, one bubbly student mentioned how much he loves to sing. Sadly, he thinks his choir teacher hates him. He says that when he sings, she yells at him, and when he’s not singing, she yells at him. He doesn’t like to sing at school any more.

One of my favorite local students, a young boy wearing the traditional white thobe with the white scarf (“ghutra“) on his head, struggled to read one of his assignments. A confident, witty kid with a great sense of humor, he’s actually a decent reader. This particular day, however, he was not interested in his assignments, so he wasn’t really trying. He made some comment about not wanting or needing to read, so I asked him what he planned to do when he’s 25 years old and needs to read something.

His reply: “I will pay you!”

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There’s never a dull moment with these kids!

Now, it’s Friday, and with J in India, I’ve had the whole day to myself. At the moment, the sunset (“maghrib“) call to prayer (“adhan“) is resonating from the nearby mosque.

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Men gathered at the mosque down the street – Sunset, Nov. 4

It’s good to have a day to recharge. I’ll be back to the books tomorrow!