Today (Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017), Darron and Gary were leaving on an afternoon flight to the Philippines. The nicer of our two cars had just been picked up from the repair shop ( it was an alternator this time). They are at that stage. Always, something falling apart. With the mission mobile, we can’t complain. It is 21 years old!!!! Darron just popped down to the hanger to fill up the tires with air and I heard him pip the horn at the gate, to indicate he was read to go to the airport.
Yet, he had a different message. The tire needed repaired…..or more probably replaced. Groan.
There is ONE thing, I disdain as a woman and that is handling car problems. It’s hard enough to do it in your home country and a language you are fluent in. Try doing it in a foreign country. Also to me, it is a MAN’S world. If you want to plop me in my discomfort zone, tell me I have to get the car fixed.
So off we drive. Air hissing out of the tire. The good news, my husband is by my side. The bad news, he has a plane to catch. We pull off at the tire repair shop. They have the right tire in stock. Grease is layers thick on the cement. The workers are rough and greasy looking too. I run across 4 to 7 layers of traffic (depending on how you count) to go to the ATM and pull out more cash, for more car repairs. Feeling a bit vulnerable, grasping my skirt and purse as I dodge cars, big yellow utility trucks, motorcycles, rolling food stands, and hundreds of people…..I feel relief as I scuttle back into view of the tire repair shop.
Quickly my eyes take in Gary and Wendy pulled off the road, picking up Darron to whisk him to the airport. Leaving me to finish dealing with the car. All his luggage transferred, Darron gives me a quick squeeze, hands me a tool and jumps in the back seat of the Robert’s van. As I stuff the tool into my purse, we joke that this is the symbol of the covenant between us, while we are apart. And he is off. I turn to take in the man’s world, I’ve been left in, and decide to sit on the little make shift waiting bench on the opposite end to a waiting man.
The longer I sit, the more intrigued I become with the environment. The patching job and tools used to repair inner tubes. The speed at which at least half a dozen men were working. I begin to click pictures, but still NOT HAPPY to be having to be at the repair shop. And just overcome with how dirty everything was. I click more pictures. The last one I took was of the secretary’s desk. She invited me to sit down, across from her.
As I sat, we began to talk. At first all I could see was her chaotic filthy desk. The longer we talked the more relaxed I became. It turns out she is the owner’s wife. They have had this business for 10 years. Her children are all away studying, though she appeared to be younger than myself. She began to talk in English. We laughed. I met her husband. The tire was on. I paid. We talked and laughed more.
No longer did I see the grease or feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden I felt like I had new friends. That I could return anytime (on my own) and they would help me. The owner helped me out onto the congested road, and I sped away, CHANGED. Change doesn’t happen fast around here, but today it did. My perception was changed, SNAP (fingers click), just like that.
I was refreshed by this woman, in a man’s world…..putting me at ease. Once again, I felt like I belonged in a world that seems so removed from anything I’ve ever known. I found the change in my perspective to be so refreshing. It did something deep inside of me, to be impacted so quickly by the kindness of a fellow human. It reminds me of an African proverb that I stumbled across recently, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito.”
What change can I and you make in the world today? It doesn’t take much. A kind word. The gift of time. A piece of food. A chair. ???? May we recognize the power we have to impact the world around us, despite feeling like we don’t make a difference or that we are too small or too …….