Good deeds punished appropriately
Trip Start Aug 29, 2007
9Trip End Sep 29, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I had to figure out transport, and I took service taxis around the city looking for the right station. Along the way, I met a woman of Arabian decent who turned out to be Canadian. She'd married in Jordanian, and seemed excited to have someone from the West to talk to for a change. She helped me find the right bus station and expressed a interest and curiousity about my decision to travel the Middle East while not knowing more than a handful of Arabic words. I must say, it would have been hard to find the right service taxi/bus without her help, and I really hoped we could meet up again at some other time. It was really fun talking to her.
We arrived at the station and said our goodbyes, as she was heading to another city. I got on the bus and headed straight out to Jerash. A young guy on the bus tried to make conversation and brought me a cold drink from the cooler. I was touched by his kindness and once at Jerash, we went together to the ancient quarter of the city. I bought tickess for the both of us, mine being around 10 dollars US and his being about 20 cents US.
Let me take a moment to say that double pricing is unethical and blatant descrimination.
Anyway, I was begining to see that my new friend was very kind, but not very intelligent at all. For example, he was going on and on about how smoking was bad, and he didn't do it, but as soon as he saw someone he knew, he asked to borrow a cigarette...almost like to fit in. He was also apparently quite unwilling to accept a moment of silience as I looked over the ancient amphitheatures and Byzantine Churches. He driveled on about this nonsense or that, sometimes pretending to ride a lion statue. He seemed to have the brain of a seven year old.
Along the way, he met one of his friends, or at least, someone who knew him, and this person turned out to give me a pretty clear and comprehensive explanation of sites and tour of the area. Sometime during that tour, I asked if he was doing this to be nice to me and Ahmet (the dim fellow I mentioned before) or if it was for money, and if so how much he expected. He gave the usual noncommital answer...I could pay if I wanted, and not pay if I didn't want to.
Of course, when it was time to part, I did give him around 2.50 US, which is not a terribly small amount of money in Jordan, particularly for less than an hour of work. He seeemed offended and let down (predictably, as this is the usual response from aspiring tour guides trying to get more money out of you). I mentioned that I thought it was plenty, and that if it wasn't, it was only because he refused to give a price when I asked. He realized he was dealing with no fool and began engaging again in the usual friendly banter about which bus to take back to Amman, etc.
On the way back, some small boys grabbed at the plastic bag I had been toting which was full of kababs. "Mister, give me food."
I said, "Get your hands off my bag! Back off! Now, are you really hungry, or are you just fooling around?"
They indicated they were indeed hungry, so I forked over the bag, and they grabbed it and ran. About five steps later, they had openned the bag up, and one of them angrily shouted, "Kababs!? KABABS?!" The disgust on his greedy face was apparent. The boys weren't poor. They were hoping for McDonalds or pizza. They were used to droves of elderly package tourists from Italy or Germany. They weren't expecting to receive what their mothers gave them at home. I was annoyed, but amused...how could I feel otherwise?
Exiting the ancient city and walking to the bus line up, I must say I was rather relieved to be saying goodbye to Ahmet. He seemed nice enough at the beginning of the trip, but I found him to be one of those people that absolutely grated on my nerves. Still, I was satisfied that I was able to treat him with kindness, and judging from the way his peers seemed to regard him, that was perhaps a welcomed reprieve from usual life. Perhaps it would be a day he'd remember, as he got to see a part of his own city that he had never seen before.
As we got near my bus back to Amman, he started smiling and asking me for a tip. I couldn't believe it. I had been so nice to this guy...I paid for his entry ticket, bought him a couple of cold drinks and given him some of my kababs. Now he wanted a tip for acting like an ass all day long? I tossed a few cents at him and told him to give me back my email adderss (he'd asked for it earlier, and I mistakenly thought he'd wanted to be friends). I went into the bus feeling disappointed in human nature.
Once back in Amman, I met up with Chris and Claudia, who has their own harrowing experience trying to get back into Amman from the Dead Sea using public transport. We went out for a meal and a hookah with some new friends from the hotel and finished with a fruit juice on the street (these are delicious, fruit juices, not streets).