Like most dramas, this story took place on a bus.
I was on my way to the market, sitting by the window with the seat beside me empty. She was clad in the classic black galabeya and veil. I could only see her eyes. Even though there were many other seats on the bus, she chose to sit next to me. I did a silent, very small fist pump in celebration of my acceptance into Arab society. (Okay, so she probably didn’t intend it to mean that, but it built up my confidence anyway.)
I smiled a little.
Minutes later, my smile disappeared. The bus was almost stopped in front of the market, and the woman in the veil wasn’t getting up. I couldn’t get out unless I spoke to her. My new found confidence melted away beneath her fiery rays of intimidation. She wasn’t just a person on the bus to me, she was a profoundly religious Muslim ninja worthy of respect! She couldn’t be bothered with silly trifles like where I needed to get off. And anyway, she certainly wouldn’t speak English.
I had just made up my mind to simply stay on the bus until she got off, when she turned to me and spoke. “Are you gettin’ off here?” She asked, in a crisp, clean British accent. I stuttered quite a bit before saying yes and stumbling out of the bus.
I’ve got a lot to learn, don’t I?