Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Me , the bus driver, the bus fare, and the Hijab

Here in Puget sound area, the public transit introduced a new transportation cards that work for almost all bus companies, to make riding the bus more convenient.

As I am always do like to take advantages of new things, I purchased this card few months back. But I only started to use it this October, when I finded some time to read about how it works.

Without including too much details about how you can load it and use it.I will go directly to the story. When I rode my bus this evening the driver stopped me and my friend when we tapped our cards on the card reader. I glanced at the screen of the reader, but nothing was wrong, at least according to my experincein using it in the last 2 weeks.

But the driver has something else to say, and he started to explain that we should add additional 1$ because of so and so. He was stressing his words with confidence in a way that any one listening, and most of the bus was listening, would think either we were stupids or we were thieves .The bus driver is talking about the card, so he must be right. I got confused specially with people starting to pile up in a line behind us. The problem is that I don't carry cash. Why I would carry any if I don't need it. Anyway the driver didn't insist that we have to pay, he was explaining so in the next time we would know.
I explained to him what I know in short, but he refuted my explanation. And he started to get nervous and asked me to contact the office if I am not believing him.

We got on the bus, and now me who started to become nervous, that is bad, really bad, if not for us then for the scarf we put over our heads. I always feel my responsiblities are doubled for anything I do here in the west. for anything I do, it doesn't only reflect me. My actions also reflects the religion for which I carry an obvious symbole.

I started thinking how to solve this, only talking to myself as my friend sat far away from me. Coz the bus was almost full. I reviewed the events, I am pretty sure of my understanding of how this card works. Whenever I use something new, I have to know it well before using it.

I started discussing with myself

So, what should I do?

I have to discuss with the driver while I am getting off the bus. He has to know that I am right in a polite way, without making him nervous.

But how could you convince him?

We need a third party.

He can call his office. I see bus drivers always call the office when they have some issues on the bus.

But that if they have something like an emergency!!!

Hallow!! this is an emergency to me, I am fighting here for my headscarf, I am neither a stupid nor a thief.

And what if he proves that you are wrong ?

Then being a stupid Muslim is better than being a theif, coz Muslims should never be thieves.

Ok honey,calm down,.... then try to look for a dollar your face will look better just in case if he proves that u r wrong, you would put the Dollar he asked for.

I searched my backpack carefully but eagerly, and in one forgotten pocket in my bag, I found not only one, but two forgotten dollars.

Here we go.

It is starting to get better.

Now, be calm, realx, and talk politely, and try to ask for the third party. Try to convince him to call his office and they will explain everthing.

I prepared everything, myself , the sentences that I will say, the money ready in my hand, and breathed deeply while the bus was approaching my stop.

Few minutes before the bus stop as usual the driver announced the station in the speakers, and ....... no silence ... he is still talking ... he continued.......
please the two young ladies whom I talked with about the cards and the fares. If you please come get off from the front door, because I want to apologize from you. You were right, and I was wrong !!!



Weldemdina said...

Obviously that was a big misunderstanding from the driver’s side, however I don’t agree with the reason that it could be you both are wearing scarfs and look foreigners (or aliens as the Americans insist calling every non American) having said that I know a small minority do make a fuss when they face any female wearing scarf and treat them differently to the rest, but at least he checked with his office and apologised to both of you, which is nice of him as not everyone do that, even if they are wrong, however I wonder if you are in Libya or any other Arab country you would get that apology? I know you might not face that experience over there, because you will never dare to take a mini bus in these countries. I am glad you waited until this misunderstanding been resolved amicably, be safe.

Enlightened Spirit said...

Weldemdina ...
Did I said that Hijab was the cause??? No, NOT AT ALL.
I never felt that I was treated differently because of Hijab. At least so far. I don't know about the future.
And yes, totally agree, it was nice from him to apologize, and in front of all in the speakers.

The Hijab issue I mentioned in the post is not about the people, it is inside me. It is about being an obvious model for Islam . So I have to look as a good model, with all the good manners which Muslims are calling for. And this feelinge were threatned by that situation of misunderstanding.

By the way I used the public mini bus while I was studying medicine in Libya. Unfortunatly, I wasn't born with a golden spoon in my mouth.

Anyway glad to have u here again :)

libyan said...

You reminded me of another situation as well here with the bus driver, it is just that my bus driver was rude to me. The problem was that i had the headphones in my ears so i didn't hear him at first, and i appologized out of repsect at first and then i got what he was saying to me, and exaclty like you i was sitting in the bus and trying to calm my self down, it happend twice with the same bus driver, and both times i didn't show the response i wanted it to be. And i didn't want to be the rude one, and he was coming everyday for this route, so what i did at the end was calling the complaints center and telling them what he did to me, and i never saw him again (el hamdulillah). But it is really exaclty as you say, i don't want them to see anything bad from us (wearing the hijab) because they already hear too much in the media, i want to show the opposite.

Maya M said...

I haven't commented here for a long time, but now I just can't resist. Let me say from the beginning that I am an Islamophobe.
Our clothes aren't just for insulation. They have a social function, because every society and even groups within a society has its dress code.
A few elements of the dress code are set by laws, but most of it is always unofficial. This does not mean that the individual is really free to choose how to dress. No law in my country specifically bans wearing pijamas in public (though you might still get in trouble for "public order offense"). However, even though my pijamas may be healthy and practical and not that ugly, nothing less than fire or earthquake would make me go out in the street dressed in them.
The fashion industry uses the dress code, making old dresses almost as unfit for public use as pijamas. Napoleon Hill, writing about our basic fears, once advised male readers, if mocked by a woman because of their fear from criticism, to challenge her to go out dressed as had been fashionable only several years earlier.
The dress code tyranny may be cruel but has its rational. People violating the current dress code are either sticking to the dress code of another, generally hostile society, or have minds operating in a different way. So a person refusing or unable to conform to the dress code has always been viewed as dangerous by others, and for good reason. An autistic online friend once complained of difficulties following the dress code. I said that it could be expected because one of the functions of the dress code is to reveal and isolate people like him; and gave him several simple tips how to conform.
The hijab is excluded from the Western dress code. Laws may allow it, but as I said above, most of the dress code tyranny is unofficial. Wearing a hijab to the Western eye is aking to wearing pijamas or, maybe even a better comparison, to wearing a T-shirt with an Israeli flag in the Arab world.
Even if you are an embodiment of perfection, when people see you, they will fear the power forcing you to violate the dress code. Had you been uneducated and simple-minded, they would talk behind your back about "those stupid Muslims"; now you are intelligent and educated, they may think you are weaving some sinister plan. So you may put away the strain to be perfect and relax :-). Once you put on the hijab, nothing you do or don't do can make the matters any worse.

Bumedian said...


seems like it was a misunderstanding in both sides also...
he was thinking he is right... but what i liked here most .. While your where thinking,, he was also thinking... and he is a good man seems to be so he didn't just passed it and did a good apology
and you where lucky it came with a easy way about all what the things you thought about
I liked the way you tried to defend what you believe..



Benghazi Citizen said...

Hello ,it's been a while dear friend...It is interesting story ,and the driver was well m,annered to fix the misunderstanding. I hate rudness ,and now a days we face a lot of that,..
Any way ,it was a happy ending ,right?
see you dear friend