An “Ugly American” Moment In Sudan

Pamela Blair, in the Sudan on the final leg of a long train voyage over a hot and empty desert, had prepared herself to be bored. It was what she hadn't planned on, however, that would forever change the way she saw the world and herself in it. 

 

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Kandinsky and Kindness in New York City

by Shirley Moskow

They were meant to be together so when I learned that the Guggenheim Museum was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its landmark building with an in-depth retrospective of the Russian avant-garde artist Wasilly Kandinsky, I knew I had to go.

“The Angel in The Architecture,” trumpeted The New York Times headline for the review of the Guggenheim show, which runs through January 10. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the building especially for the museum’s founding collection of Kandinsky’s non-objective work.

I drove into New York City from Boston -- a tactic I do not recommend. And, speaking of angels, one must have been watching over me because I found a parking space within walking distance of the museum. Easy, right? Nope. I had a problem with the parking meter, a style that was new to me. Directions said it took credit cards, but when I slipped my Visa card into the slot and punched in the length of time I expected to be gone, nothing happened. I tried to remove my card from the slot to try again. The parking meter held the card in a vise-like grip.

A father with a curly-headed toddler in hand saw my predicament. He forcefully yanked my credit card from the machine and counted four quarters into my palm. “It’s easier with coins,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said, handing back his change. I certainly appreciated this random act of kindness, but I already had quarters.

“Keep it,” he insisted. “You may need it later.”

I thought about his kindess as I approached the Guggenheim.

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CONFESSIONS OF A CLAUSTROPHOBIC FLYER

by Nancy King

Sartre was wrong.Hell isn’t other people, it’s flying with a company I will call WeDon’tCare Airlines.

The first sign of trouble came when I printed out my boarding pass and noticed I had no seat assignment even though I’d booked seats for all my flights. I called WeDon’tCare and was treated to: “Our menu has recently changed . . .” and there was no option to speak to anyone resembling a person. Silly me. After listening to too many: “I’m sorry, I don’t recognize . . .” I began to press numbers randomly to relieve my irritation and frustration. Much to my shock, I connected to a reasonable facsimile of a human. I quickly stated my dilemma in case she hung up. “I’m not able to assign you a seat, you’ll have to go to www.wereallydontcare.com and book your seat there.

“I don’t have access to a computer,” I told her.

Not missing a beat, she repeated herself and added, “You can book a seat when you check in.”

“But what if there are no seats available?”

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