a nice little twist

After a frustrating trip to the post office, I felt like I had to blow off a little steam. Usually, I do this by walking home as fast as possible in order to go back into my own little world where I can listen to my own music or zone out on a TV show (and i had season 2 of Dexter sitting at home, waiting for me). This time however, my walk home was interrupted by two punks walking down the street who decided that it was a good opportunity to make fun of me. They must not have realized that I was already irrationally angry at poor customer service. Bad time to try to have a laugh.

So I’m walking down the street, minding my own business when two kids (who are walking down the street I just crossed for a visual) see me walking away and yell out some gibberish. I mean gibberish in the literal sense, as he just threw out random syllables at me. It was like he was saying “You are a foreigner. When you speak your language, you sound like an idiot.” This has happened to me several times before, and I usually let it slide, but considering the experience with the post office, I needed revenge.

I turned around and gave them a stare that let them know they just made a mistake. They kept walking, but as soon as they got out of site, one of them booked it down the street. The other kid, who didn’t really do anything wrong, simply kept walking at his normal pace. Unfortunately, he didn’t know that I’ve started taking hostages.

I walked up to him and grabbed him by the collar. He told me that he didn’t do anything. “I know you didn’t,” I said, “but your friend did. Who is he? Where does he live?” The kid spilled the beans. Once he told me, I gave him a simple “Let’s go.” People were looking at us strangely, as it’s not everyday they see an American holding on to a little Azerbaijani kid by the scruff of their neck.

We were near the mosque when I got an idea. What was I going to do when I got to this kids house? My idea was to talk to his father and tell him about his moronic little son, but then again, his dad might not be home. Or maybe he wouldn’t even care.  I stopped walking with this kid and I got some more information. I found out that they both go to my school. I got their names and their homerooms which is certainly enough information to give to the director. I saved myself a trip to wherever this kid lived and I will unleash a fury when I tell the director about this kid disrespecting a teacher. “Alright,” I said, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and I let him go.

Just as I let him go, though, a couple of old women walked up to us. I see them all the time, as I live near the mosque. They’re always out in front, chatting it up or just hanging out. They asked the kid if I could speak Azerbaijani, and when he said that I could they walked towards me and introduced themselves.

They gave me the standard, “What are you doing here? Where did you learn to speak Azerbaijani? How much money do you make? Where do you live? Are you married?” I aced the quiz, and they were pretty impressed. I had seen them in front of the mosque before, so I asked them if they worked there.

“Yeah. We clean it. America is a Christian country, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” I told them, not wanting to talk about religious plurality. “Lots of Christians. We don’t have the call to prayer. I’ve never been in a mosque.”

“Be our guest. Come inside.”

I’ve walked past this place a hundred times, and I’ve always been curious about what goes on inside. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to go or not, considering my status as a non-Muslim. They told me there was no problem.

Inside was really cool. It’s a simple, two-story building, with rugs everywhere and a fireplace in the middle. The room was spacious and colorful. I asked if women and men came to pray together, and they said that the women go upstairs, and the men go downstairs.

There were Arabic flags and posters everywhere. Obviously, I couldn’t make out the Arabic (or Farsi, I suppose, I have no idea how to distinguish them), but there were somethings written in Cyrillic that I could sound out. I don’t know what they meant, but a lot of them were a dedication to Imam Hussein.

After looking around for a bit, they told me that I should come back at the call to prayer. I told them that I wasn’t a Muslim, so I didn’t know if it was alright. They said that I was a guest, and that I could come any time.

It was a great experience. I had been waiting to check that place out for a while. Not only did I get to ease my curiosity of the place, but I was shown great hospitality.

It never would have happened if post office was an efficiently run place and those little brats decided not to make fun of me. It was a great situation that exemplifies PC service. There are great moments and there are frustrating moments, and they are often tied together.

Click on the thumbnails below to see a couple of pictures I took in the mosque.

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One response to “a nice little twist

  1. Hey Jeff –
    I’m getting caught up on your posts, and especially got a kick out of this one! That was a nice little twist, as you said, to have that experience handed to you pretty much as a consequent of the kids. Way to capitalize on the opportunity (actually both opportunities!).

    And if I miss it, which wouldn’t be the first/last time… Happy Birthday!

    Love,
    Marilyn

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