Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Human Experience

Hi all,

So today I had a really upsetting and rather frightening experience. I held it together until I made it home, but when I called Hugo to express my anger over the situation and my fear of mishandling it, I found myself dissolving into adrenaline-fueled tears.

First and foremost, I have to say that my response the situation was not ideal, mature, or a good reflection of what my program is trying to promote.

Then again, I really never expected to be almost ran over on the street out of malice.

To back up.

I was almost home, walking after a full day of six lessons and my first club organizational meeting. I like to walk with my headphones in, listening to a podcast to pass the time and learn something new. I was about 2 minutes from my front door. I live in a cluster of apartments that are arranged in groups of 3 or four. They've been (slowly) working on resurfacing the roads and sidewalks around the whole area. Usually I walk on the road, but there was a horse parked with a cart in the middle, and the road is rather rough-going in a pair of flats. There's a whole little system of walkways that run around the buildings, so I walked parallel to the sidewalk on one, and went to cross the 15 feet of road (more like a driveway leading into a parking area to get to the continuing path).

Out of my peripheral vision, I see that a white van is approaching the corner when I'm about 4 feet onto the road. I picked up my pace, but between the road and it's current speed I should've been able to clear the whole road about 1.5 times safely. After I'd taken 4-5 steps and was about 3 feet from the curb, it struck me that the van was now going WAY faster. The road was uneven, but free of any major potholes. It's wide enough for two cars to pass comfortably.

I barely had time to register that the van was really coming up (but was within 2 feet of the curb on the opposite side of the road that it should be driving) when I looked back and saw it swerve TOWARDS me. I literally jumped the last few feet, and had it miss me by inches. There was NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING wrong with the right side of the road and it was immediately apparent that the asshole had purposefully just made a swipe at me.

I'm fairly confident that he wasn't really trying to risk damaging his car by actually hitting me, but I'm fairly convinced that had I frozen in fear, he really might have.

What kind of person does shit like that?

As my adrenaline fear-fueled rage hit, I made a gesture that would not make my organization proud.
I don't think I've ever used it in real anger in the US even.

The car came to a stop about 30 feet away, and the window came down, with a man whipping his head out. I suddenly realized that I perhaps should not risk pissing off a stranger who has already shown a capacity for malicious maneuvers, who might also have a whole van full of like-minded buddies. At this point, I'd really only held up my hand for 2 seconds, and so I quickly continued my walk, hoping he wouldn't turn the van around to follow me - and already cringing about the potential tongue-lashing this could earn me from the Safety and Security manager.

So yeah. That's something I've been processing the last few hours, and I drew a pretty unlikely parallel from a story from a few days ago that I'd also like to share. Because crap like this can really stir up some feelings of doubt and anger about your environment.

Anyhow, I'd like to talk about my 'friend'.

Last Saturday, I went to hang out with my newly-returned-from-America counterpart. I went next-door to her building and we walked into the center. We met up with her sister, and all went for a quick bite. As we started to walk along, at some point I melted over a ridiculously cute puppy. I joked that maybe I could get one, and how would they feel about a nicely-trained one year old dog when I left, and we compared the merits of dogs vs. boyfriends in a light-hearted manner.

Now, my counterpart doesn't like dogs, especially ones that bark, they make her nervous. So it seemed to be a bad turn of fate, when we were startled by a lot of intense barking, and a yellow blur flying at an oncoming man. The businessman swung his suitcase at the dog - a smallish yellow mutt that may have had some golden retriever blood in it, as evinced by some pretty serious matting in its long hair on its legs.

We eyed the dog warily, but expected it to continue on.

But it didn't.

For the next fifteen minutes, it paced behind us, weaving from side to side and barking ferociously at any man that got too close. My counterpart was pretty nervous, but after a few minutes it became apparent that we were being dogged. (haha.)

We even stopped at two shops at the bazaar, and our new friend would patiently wait outside in an inconspicuous spot. Here's a picture from where he curled up:

My counterpart's sister joked that my wish had come true - although this certainly wasn't a puppy, and one look at the mats convinced me that this dog would probably not put up with domestication gently. The dog continued to follow us for the next ten minutes - despite encountering another territorial stray dog who he apparently convinced that he was just passing through.

The dog next singled out an old man. He was possibly un-housed, but certainly did not look like he probably had much more than his pension to keep him going. The dog came barking up to him, and I held my breath - ready to see the old man take a swing at, shout at, or find a rock to throw at the dog.

None of these things happened.

The old man came to a stop, despite the dog pressing closer with its snarling and barking. He reached out a hand, slowly, gently...

And the dog walked up to him cautiously...and let him scratch behind his ears.

The man may have said something softly, but all I know for sure is that he stood there for several long seconds, quietly communing with the dog.

We walked past them, and I thought that we might have lost our tail.

He came running up a few minutes later, and my counterpart's sister made us pass through a building in order to ditch him.

It's probably for the best, as there are often loud screaming, playing children outside our apartments and that's probably not ideal for a rather high-strung dog.

But what a moment.

For every asshole who gets their kicks with reckless, senseless behavior, it's a good reminder to see that the opposite also exists. Someone possessing a strong sense of empathy for a scraggly, confrontational dog who was only looking for a kind hand.

And of course this is a fact all over the world - that people can be simply and quietly marvelous. That sometimes the unexpected behavior can give you a moment of appreciation for kindness.

So yeah, I almost got ran over today. But I'm going to keep my faith in humanity, thank you very much.

Hope all is well,


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