Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mistaken Identity [at the bus stop]

I was waiting at the bus stop a few days ago. As I was nearing the little pavilion, I noticed a guy waiting there smoking a cigarette. He needed 50cents in change to complete his fare, and was wondering if I could help him out.
I did. We chatted a little in English.

I happened to be at the same stop today with a Lebanese “acquaintance”. We were sitting on a worn up wooden bench underneath a couple of maple trees. The wind was chill; the sky dark with clouds and the leaves were trembling. Along came the same I-don’t-have-enough-change-guy, walking slowly towards us.
A stormy and windy solstice evening was being announced.

- I have my change today, he shouted with a smile.
I returned the smile and said: “I am glad you do… The bus will be here in 5 minutes. It’s always a couple of minutes late!” (As I saw he was walking towards the bus schedule).
- Ok cool.

- Are you Israeli?
- Close enough actually. We’re neighbors; I am Lebanese. I answered.

It was a normal question, but if you consider the sensitivity of the subject in our part of the world, I think everybody (especially Lebanese) would agree, understand, and condone my 2-second bedazzlement before I swallowed and was able to answer. His question was direct; too direct perhaps as he did not aim too far. Touché even!
A roll of thunder was heard.

On the bus, my “friend” asks in a very casual manner: “Why did that guy think you were Israeli?”
- I don’t know. Because of my accent?
- No you must have done something or said something to make him think that.
- What? No. Why? What would I do? Maybe it is because of my nose!
He sensed that I did not care to pursue the subject. He leaned back, and thought for a second.
- Why did you answer, “close enough”? You should have told him “not at all” or “far from that”. You have to make him understand; he has to understand.
- What are you talking about? Understand what? I just thought Geography, and answered.

- What if he had asked if you were Syrian? He asks again. What would you have said?Answer honestly.
- Close enough actually. We’re neighbors; I am Lebanese.
- No you wouldn’t!

We got to his destination. He got up angrily, glanced at me pensively, nodded a very subtle nod (Pai Mei style), and left the bus.

I was left to continue my dark journey back home baffled trying to figure what just hit me.
Was it the bus?


At 9:58 PM, Blogger Nimrat said...

Did you figure it out ?
I would like to know too..

At 10:08 PM, Blogger _z. said...

not really, I am not sure... but I have a clue. I think it was the bus.


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