Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see...- Mark Twain
Today was a good day (cue Ice Cube). I decided to go to City Stars Mall to buy a hat for my trip to Mt. Sinai this weekend. I took the campus bus to Heliopolis, intending to get off at the Emirates Embassy and walk the rest of the way to the mall. When I got on the bus, a nice older lady moved aside to allow me to sit in the last empty seat beside her. Having adjusted to long, isolated bus rides to and from campus with no one to talk to, I pulled out my homework to get as much of it done as possible before getting off the bus. To my surprise, the lady beside me was very friendly but not intrusive. Initially, this caught me off guard. I've grown used to people not speaking to me or being outright rude in Cairo. We chatted and she asked me why I was studying Arabic and if it would help me get a job in the U.S., etc.
As our stop approached, she pulled out her keys and offered me a ride to the mall so that I wouldn't have to get walk in the hot sun. For a brief moment I recalled my boyfriend adamantly insisting that I avoid being "sex-trafficked" after he'd watched Taken. I pushed those thoughts out of my head and gratefully accepted her offer. We got off the bus and walked to her car. As we drove to the mall, I recalled that I didn't catch her name so I asked. She introduced herself as Fatma from Accounting. Fatma told me about her son who worked for Microsoft in Seattle after graduating from AUC. I could tell she really missed him. Fatma dropped me off at the mall and gave me her phone number in case I was ever in the area again. She was so sweet!
After I bought a nice floppy hat, the attendant outside the mall helped me hail a cab to the metro since there are none in walking distance. Because of traffic, the cab ride took 20 minutes. At the metro station, I handed the driver 50 LE, the smallest bill I had, and asked for my change. I expected him to try to rip me off so I braced myself for another cabbie-battle... To my pleasant surprise, he handed me back the correct change and even asked if that was okay! Simply relieved, I thanked him for the ride.
I hopped into the metro station and got on the women's cart. The women's cart is always a great place to people watch and observe how people interact w/ each other. As my stopped approached a weary old woman got on the metro. She asked the teenage next to me to allow her to sit down but the girl shook her head. With her worn and tattered clothes and shoes, it was obvious that the older woman was from a lower soicio- economic background than the women beside me. I tapped her and offered her my seat. She refused it several times but I got up and insisted that she sit. Another woman sitting beside me in an expensive niqab even pulled my arm and insisted that I stay seated. Finally, the older woman gladly took my seat and told me in Arabic, "You're very nice". She then asked if I'd like to sit in her lap. I smiled and shook my head, "La, Shukran." No, thank you.
These events made my day! At times we devalue the importance of a smile or a kind gesture but they are the most important form of human contact. Any random act of kindness deserves to be returned. :)