My morning with Mima
This morning at about quarter after eight, I put my iPod earphones in my ears, slung my big, red purse over my burnt shoulders and grabbed my keys. I turned the lock in, walked down the stairs and into the big, bright world on this Monday morning.
I didn’t fret at leaving my sunglasses in my backpack, because the sun was still in its early, breaking phases—not too bright to make navigation by foot difficult.
I listened to Armchair Cynic’s “Coalmine,” crossed the random cobblestone road by my building and began my trek to work. Until…
“Excuse me,” she mouthed, or maybe she said, but I couldn’t hear her with my music playing. I paused it, removed my left earphone. Initially frightened she was a drug addict still awake from a drug-induced high that continued from last night. But she looked normal enough, no sunken eyes, no twitchy movements.
“How do I get to bus station,” she said in an accent I could tell was foreign, but I could not tell from where.
“You need to take the 4,” I answered. She looked up to the bus stop in front of us that had the numbers 1 and 3 on it. She looked back at me with eyes that asked “And where do I get that?” in a way more effective than her broken English could have expressed. I figured she was a tourist with little knowledge of our city’s transit. I leveled with her, relating that same lost feeling I know I have experienced in foreign cities. Sometimes, the only thing to do is ask someone, and even then, risk potential snubs, scoffs or being ignored. I felt bad that this could possibly happen, and then glad she had approached me. I’d take care of her, I’d answer her question.
“You need to pick that up on Rideau Street. She squinted a little as if to ask, “And Rideau Street is where exactly?”
“Here, come with me, I’m walking that way.” She smiled the most gracious smile I have seen, and began walking with me. I found out she was from Switzerland and was staying at a youth hostel I didn’t even know existed, just blocks from my house. I also remembered what my aunt told me in Greece. She taught village children how to speak English, so she let me talk to them for practice. Afterwards, she told me I spoke very fast, and with a strong “Canadian” accent. Keeping this in mind, I slowed down my speech to Mima, my new Swiss friend.
We talked about where she was visiting, what the city was like as compared to “back home.” When we got to the 4, she oriented herself and looked up to confirm that the bus sign listed the 4. I turned to tell her “have a good day” and she smiled again, “Sank you, yes.” With a big smile.
She was so trusting and appreciative and kind. It was one of my top ten favourite ways to start a day that in all likelihood was geared to be just like other workdays. It was a nice universe surprise this morning. Thanks!