My dear friend Saundra came to my house today to get her haircut and to visit. She is very sweet. Saundra is a doctor from Peru? or somewhere in South America. I have known her for a few years. She lives in the US now, about a half an hour from my house. Her medical license is not recognised in this country, it is not reciprocal. As I cut her hair today she told me about what happened to her yesterday. She was walking her two dogs along a trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway, they were on leashes. It was a beautiful day. A small family approached her and they had 2 dogs with them, they were not on leashes. The family's dogs ran over to Saundra and got into a doggie rumble. Saundra's dogs got all wound up, trying to protect everyone and knocked Saundra to the ground. She has a big bruise on her hip, a cut on her shin and pulled muscles in her arm. The dogs knocked her over twice. She was embarrasssed. She hollered at her dogs. The other people, the small family, called their dogs and kept on walking; they didn't offer any aid or concern or apologies to Saundra as she attempted to pick her dignity up off the ground. It wasn't until the next day, which was this morning that Saundra began to wonder how any one could be so impolite and uncaring. In her country, well, let's just say noone would walk past a women who was knocked to the ground by unruly, frightened dogs and look the other way; it is unheard of. She told me this story and I was reminded of a certain nighttime bus trip I was on many years ago, somewhere in the heart of Mexico. In order to let Saundra know how deeply I felt her disgust with her new surrounding culture, I told her this story.
When I was in my early 20's, after my internship in Midwifery school in the Mexican border town of ElPaso, TX and Juarez MX., I gave my car away and bought train tickets for myself and two very young sons into the Central. My youngest son, Avi was only 2 AND1/2, my oldest was 4 years old. I usually bought 2 tickets for busses and trains as we travelled. I would put the little one on my lap and the bigger son in the seat next to me. One night we boarded a very crowded bus; many passengers were sleeping as we boarded. I couldn't find 2 empty seats next to each other anywhere. I moved towards the back of the bus and decided to slip the three of us into one seat next to a sleeping young man(maybe 27 years) in the window seat. An American to the core, full of angst about having young children and not the funds to own my own vehicle, about inconveniencing the public with my offspring and all the unacceptable behavior that goes along with that curse, I was afraid of how this man might react when he woke up to find some little kid crammed into the space between my and his seat. Sure enough the bus drove on. Sure enough, my 4 year old son Wiley, fell asleep. But he kept falling forward, a giant head nod movement affecting him to his waist. Oh-Oh I thought, he is going to wake that man next to him and he is going to be MAD! I was nodding off too; I was tired. The third time my little sleeping boy nearly fell out of the seat, it happened. The man next to us opened his eyes, jolted awake by the motion of my baby falling forward in his own sleepy state. The man noticed there was a baby wedged next to him, I braced myself for the assault. The man raised his arm, swung it around my son and tucked him under his arm. He patted my baby on his head. They both closed their eyes and went back to sleep. I sighed relief and prayed to become as much"from the heart" as the people all around me in this beautiful country.