Thursday, June 19, 2014

Normal straw or crazy straw?

It was 40C (104F) outside this afternoon. I had missed the turnoff for where I needed to go, and faced with a complicated 15-minute or more detour to correct my mistake (so common here in the Land Where Left Turns Are Forbidden), I had pulled to the shoulder of the road and crossed a median on foot. I made sure to be quick about the errand. Jeremy was at home with the kids for the few minutes I planned on being gone. But when I got back to the car, BOOM: dead battery.

Car batteries are like ticking time bombs here. The extreme heat and the month or two of disuse during the summers means that car batteries do not last long. This afternoon, time ran out on ours. I called Jeremy and as we decided what to do, I felt like Daniel Craig when Elaine Figgis asks him if he wants a normal straw (Jeremy come to my rescue) or a crazy straw (flag down a passerby to help).

Daniel Craig said, "crazy." AND SO DID I. Woohoo! Bring on the adventure.

It took about two seconds for someone to stop to help me. It was an extremely elderly Emirati man and his Pakistani driver. But they couldn't figure out how to get the cars nose-to-nose on the busy street in order to attach the jumper cables. Fortunately, someone else stopped by soon after: an Iraqi man who physically pushed my car down the road to a bus stop pull-out in the road where he could properly align the hood with that of his own car.

(Even as he was helping me, two or three other cars slowed down to see if they could help. And do you know, they were all Emiratis!)

I know the man was Iraqi because he made a point of telling me so after he asked where I was from and I told him I was American. I was instantly reminded of some of the awkward times from 2004-2005 when we were Americans in Syria during the height of American operations in Iraq. You never knew whether people were going to love you or hate you for that. It's been easier to be an American in the Middle East in many ways in recent years, but recent headlines in Iraq have brought some of the awkwardness back. And I felt just a twinge of it as my Iraqi hero got my car running in a jiffy.

Even though I chose the crazy straw, I really could not have asked for my appeal to passing strangers to go any better. I had more help than I needed, and I was on my way before Jeremy and the normal straw option would have even reached me. I can only hope for the same the next time we lose the car battery lottery. We'll see if I have the courage to choose the crazy straw again.


Hannah said...

That's a very nice story. I'm glad it turned out so well!

Liz Johnson said...

I am ever so convinced that my life would be better if I just chose the crazy straw more often. Maybe I should practice saying "yes" more instead of "no" and see what kind of variety that brings. :)

Anna said...

I'm just happy that you were able to connect that video to a real life experience.

Susanne said...

Hooray for Iraqi heroes!

We met a Kurdish guy at a waffle stand in Belgium last November. When we told him that we were from the US, he said he wanted to visit Texas.

"Why Texas?"

"That's where George W. Bush is from, and I want to shake his hand."

I nearly died of shock right there since I've never met a foreigner who liked Bush. It was especially awkward/funny since we were with our Syrian Arab friend who has always told me about the evilness of US involvement in Iraq.

This guy liked Bush because he felt Bush gave the Kurds a homeland. the Iraqi guy didn't really react to your Americaness? That's good.

Great story!

Jen said...


It's a tender spot in our relationship, given that no one even gives me the choice anymore...they just hand me the normal straw and get on with their day.

There was this one time where Joe was going on High Adventure with the scouts, and it involved parking and meeting up with them on a canoe trip. But since he had to leave before the rest of the group, he was many miles downstream from where he'd parked his car.

So he hitchhiked.

Crazy straw.

Bridget said...

Nope, didn't really comment. It was hot. I do think he was making a point out of his being Iraqi, just with the way he mentioned it.

Oh, the Kurds. I hope they get their own country someday.


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