No Empathy

I tried saying everything I conveyed in my last blog to another taxi driver that was struggling with my overweight luggage (still in the UK, on the way to the airport).  After pausing slightly after hearing me say that the extra weight consisted of goodies for my volunteer boyfriend in Kenya and the deaf children he is teaching, the taxi driver without empathy or humor commented, “Hmmm, are you saying your boyfriend is in this luggage?”  So I guess even the truth didn’t help, bummer.

You Must Be an American

I’m currently on my way to Kenya for my second visit to see my boyfriend but am also stopping in a few other places beforehand for business.  There are a few problems with all the pre-trips (in all different climates), which all boil down to all the luggage I have been hauling with me.  Luckily, last time I was in Kenya, I left some clothing and misc. toiletries behind so I wouldn’t have to bring them again, but I still have much more than I would typically bring with me for a business trip.  I have:

1) One large roller bag filled with clothes for the four countries I’m visiting along with some Kenya specific items (ie. sunscreen, mosquito repellent, travel games, etc.)

2) Second large roller bag filled with snacks and random goodies for my boyfriend and the children he is teaching (which depending on the airline charges an overweight fee).

3) Backpack w/laptop, books, ipod, etc.

4) Purse

5) Misc. paper bag originally containing candy for my business portion of this trip but now consists of random little gifts/gadgets I’m picking up along the way.

Bringing all this luggage with me is something I have become used to but it is the hotel valets and taxi drivers I feel most sorry for…until today.

On my way from yet another plane to taxi to train to taxi to hotel, the taxi driver had to put all my luggage in his car.  He (as most people) was not expecting the weight of my roller bags and buckled a bit with the first one.  He managed the second one and I got in the taxi.  As I got in the taxi he mentioned something about the weight of my luggage which I readily apologized for and then he muttered something under his breath about me being an American (this portion of the journey happened in the UK).  Exhausted from being on five planes in six days, I ignored him.

On the ride to the hotel, he asked if I was visiting on holiday, I said no, for work, a conference.  Upon learning from me that a conference was soon to begin with 2,000 people from all over the world,  I could see him getting disgruntled at the thought of all these foreigners blocking his streets.  There wasn’t much else shared on the ride as he still seemed to be working through the idea that he was facing a congested week ahead.

When we got to the hotel, he lugged the bags out of the car making an off-handed comment about being prepare this time for the weight.  As I prepared to pay him, he said again, “You are an American, aren’t you?”  “Yes,” I said with gritted teeth.  He replied, “That’s what I thought.”

Now what got me about this conversation, is not only that he insulted me just for the sake of being rude but he also had no idea what he was insulting me about.  If I hadn’t been so tired from all the travel, I probably would have attempted to shame him by mentioning my bags were so heavy because this week I’m seeing my boyfriend who lives in Kenya who is a volunteer.  Not only is he a volunteer in an underdeveloped country where he lives in the same conditions as the locals (and worse in some cases), but he also teaches children with limited resources.  And the children are deaf.  So the reason my bags are so heavy is because I am bringing him snacks that are more difficult to get in Kenya (including cans of tuna fish), and school supplies for the deaf children.  So I apologize if my heavy bags caused less than one minute of discomfort.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I was too exhausted and ready to sleep that I didn’t have the energy to shame him,  so none of that was mentioned. I paid him, looked at the stairs in front of me and my heavy bags, went inside and found a delightful woman in the hotel willing to help me with the luggage.  The best part was she was so nice and polite about my heavy luggage, that there was no need for me to explain why my bags were so heavy or that my boyfriend lives in Kenya.