“Come with me.” I followed the woman in the hopes that was actually taking me to the Rabat bus station without charging me. After 2 weeks in Morocco, I’d grown accustomed to deception. She stopped and glanced around. “There are no buses running from here to the airport today because it’s Sunday and Ramadan is approaching,” she explained apologetically. “Do you have the money to pay for a cab?” She asked.
“Is there another option?”
“Ok, come with me. You can take a collective cab. The white ones.” On the way, I asked her where she was coming from. She was holding 2 pairs of packaged Ray Ban knock-offs. She explained that before I had ran into her, she was on her way home from work. She owned a small store in Rabat.
She got in the backseat of a cab with two large woman. “Come in,” she suggested. “We’ll need to take 2 or 3 cabs this way. This is the first.”
I squeezed myself into the backseat as well. The seat in the front was taken by another passenger.
“Is your home this way?” I asked the woman. Why was she accompanying me? Unlike some of the Moroccans that I’d met, she didn’t seem like she wanted anything from me. I didn’t want her to go out of her way for me.
The sun was shining and I was squinting a bit. “Take these sunglasses,” she said and opened one of her packaged pairs of glasses.
“Are you sure? I can pay you for them.”
She shook her head. The cab stopped and all the passengers exited the cab. I saw the woman begin to pay. I reached for my wallet.
“How much was the cab?” I asked. “I’ll pay for us.” She told me not to worry about it.
We hailed another cab. This time it was just the two of us. We were chatting and she asked for my phone number. “Next time you are in Morocco I invite you to my home to eat with my family.” I gave her my Facebook because she didn’t have whatsapp and I wasn’t paying for cell service abroad. This woman was too nice. I couldn’t help but question if she had other motives. Perhaps she did want something from me. Maybe she was just like all those Moroccan people who tried to sell me things or charge me for directions or marry me for citizenship.
Soon enough we were at the airport. I took out my wallet but she paid again! I tried my best to give her money but she refused. I think my initial intuition was right. I don’t think the airport was by her home. But I don’t know and probably never will.
Later that evening, the woman messaged me asking if I had a safe flight.
There are many people in Morocco that want something from tourists, be it money, citizenship, money, money, or money. This is not a mentality exclusive of Morocco or of “places like Morocco,” whatever that may mean to you.
In New York City, I’d go out to a bar and the first question that I’d consistently receive was “What do you do?” Sure, in New York people live to work. If someone’s not passionate about what he’s doing, what’s the point of his/her 14 hour work days that barely earn enough to pay rent. That’s fine if during the only hours that a person isn’t working he/she still wants to talk about work. But if I did anything remotely similar to the person, the conversation abruptly turned to, “Here’s what I can do for you. What can you do for me?” Come on! We’re in a fucking bar and I’m trying be a real person enjoy myself. But even a bar isn’t an escape in Manhattan. It’s a networking opportunity. And people want something out of you. Maybe it’s not as obvious as when a Moroccan offers to help you with directions and then tries to charge you for it. But in either case, you think someone is being friendly when in reality they’re trying to use you.
After two weeks in Morocco, I was tired of people trying to get something out of me. I had met so many nice Moroccans but it was frustrating that I had to be hesitant of their motives. I wanted to trust people. But this lady… She took time out of her day to help me reach my destination, pay for my way there, give me her sunglasses, and then check in to affirm that all was well. This was the most beautiful and inspiring random act of kindness that I’d ever experienced. I felt so wonderful about her, Moroccans, and humankind as a whole.
What is the nicest random act of kindness that you’ve ever experienced, watched, or preformed?