I don’t want this to be a long post because I want as many people to read it as possible. This is an important story from my travels – the only person who, in 6 months of travelling throughout the world, has inspired me enough to write about them.
It’s not often enough that I share stories about people I meet whilst abroad.
Maybe it’s a lack of time to sit down and write about it, or maybe it’s that no one has really intrigued me even nearly as much as the person I met today did.
I wasn’t doing anything of interest – I was sitting inside a phone store on 6th Avenue waiting for the salesman (who was a real gentleman by the way) to bring over a phone case I was interested in purchasing. So there I was, partaking in a regular ol’ human activity, when another person in a store uniform came and sat beside me.
She didn’t introduce herself, she didn’t really even have anything to say, she just came over to chat and see how I was. There was no offer to do anything for me, she didn’t want anything from me, but instead she was genuinely just there to have a chat. Too little does this happen in the present day… which is probably testament to why I was at first slightly confused and perhaps uneasy.
We began talking and one way or another got onto the topic of my job travelling the world and what led me to where I am today. She had the same reaction 80% of people do, promptly telling me she would love to switch places followed by “if you ever need an assistant……!!” (I get that one quite a lot).
I used to go to school with a gas mask strapped to my school bag.
But before long we were on the topic of her origins that led her to where she is today. She was raised in Israel during the time Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was in power. I became inquisitive and asked more and more questions as I could sense she was comfortable talking about it. “I used to go to school with a gas mask strapped to my school bag” she told me, in a completely neutral tone. During this time her and her family left the country to live in America as her father was concerned for her and her siblings’ livelihood as children. She wasn’t trying to impress me or make me feel any sense of sympathy, she was just simply stating the facts.
I began asking her what she thinks of the current conflict in the Middle East and whether she has any better insight into how it might resolve than what we all hear on the media. I didn’t ask because I was seeking a yes or no answer, as I knew by posing the question that way I would be opening up a dialect on the topic. Of course there’s more going on than what we hear in the media. This is the 21st Century, after all.
To cut it short and stray away from the politics of it all (because that’s not the message of this blog post), I found it quite moving to be able to sit down with someone and speak openly about such a delicate situation and have her tell me things like:
I go on Facebook and my friends are taking selfies with a rocket flying overhead and they’re like ‘hey! here’s me……oh and another rocket’
She continued to tell me how difficult it is to live in New York and hear people talking about ‘the daily struggle’ when her home country is in complete shambles and people are living their daily lives with rockets flying overhead.
I guess it just puts things into perspective. There’s more to life to worry about than it being a Monday, what your plans are for the weekend, and the other 73698473 trival things you let worry you today.
There’s always someone out there that has it harder than you.