Thursday, April 07, 2005

The only thing you have to fear.... 

We have a permanent driver for our office. He is a very nice man, probably in his mid-40s. He has a wife and three young, beautiful children. He used to own a cosmetic store over by the Mecca Mall until he went out of business about a year ago. Now he is our full-time driver. The average income in Amman in around $300 a month, and I doubt he makes much more that that. Yet he is positive and sweet and takes me all over and teaches me about the city and how to get by in Arabic.

At one point I told him I grew up "near Chicago." That's when he told me he had actually lived in Chicago for a few years awhile back. But when I asked him if he enjoyed his time there, his answer was so interesting.

Our Driver told me he didn't like it in Chicago because he didn't feel safe there. He said he couldn't go out at night like he could in Jordan. He reminded me that they don't ever really have muggings or purse snatchings in Amman like they have every night in Chicago.

I found his answer very ironic. So many people were scared for me to come to the Middle East, and here is a middle-age Jordanian who was scared to go out at night in Chicago and complaining that he didn't feel safe living in the U.S.

And I guess it is becoming more dangerous to be an Arab in the U.S. and more dangerous to be American in the Middle East, however, he was right about one thing: I honestly do feel safer in Amman than I did living alone in Washington, DC. Yes, I know that I am American and hence there is a lot of animosity over here right now towards our Government, but at least I don't have to worry here that someone is going to attack me or rob me if I walk alone.

Plus, I don't really feel any animosity towards me even though my Government sucks. Especially, when we start talking politics and they find out I'm not another redneck businessman. If anything I am treated like I am smarter and cooler than I really am. The only negative vibes I have felt from anyone since I got here over a month ago are a few jealousy vibes.

I just wanted to write a quick post about this. I have learned so much about this culture and the politics and people here. I can't imagine having passed up this experience out of fear. And I admit I was scared for a couple days when I first got here (I even alluded to that in one of my first posts). But for once, I'm glad that I decided not to toe the line and took a leap. So far it has been incredible.


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