Monday, May 29, 2006

Street Sweepers, Garbagemen, and Trash Collectors

Like a lot of big cities, Amman is full of litter. There are garbage cans everywhere, but not everyone uses them; therefore, three different jobs have been created from the excess garbage. The first are the street sweepers. These are they who walk around with wheelbarrows and shovels picking up trash from the street. They then take the trash to the dumpsters and continue sweeping the streets. The second are the garbagemen. These are they who wear orange coveralls and ride on the back of a dumptruck and empty the dumpsters into the back of the dumptruck. Thirdly, we see the trash collectors. These are they who wander around Amman all day looking for treasure (one man's junk is another man's treasure!). They range from children looking for whatever to goat herders trying to feed their flock to men looking for scraps of things to sell.

Today I ran into one such Trash Collector. I was on my way to a meeting at the Junior Achievement HQ in Amman (I'm supposed to edit their monthly newsletter)...I was a little afraid to do so since I had never exactly been out of our neighbourhood by myself. But, I now am fully confident that I can get home, so going anywhere isn't really a problem (before I could say jareedit a-distour, it was another story). So, I took a taxi from the University of Jordan to the Arab Bank in Shmesani...or almost there. My taxi driver stopped and said to me (in Arabic), "The bank's here. Get out." I was like, "Okay." So I got out and I looked around but couldn't see the bank anywhere. But I did see a little police station, so I walked upto the police station and asked if they knew where the Arab Bank was. Just my luck: they didn't speak English. So, I asked them where the bank is in my very broken Arabic and get directions. I didn't understand anything the officer said to me (except "the bank is here.") so I followed his pointing and finally made it to the bank. From there I had to follow a little map that my friend Tim had drawn for me. I think I am directionally impaired because I could not find the planned destination. As I'm wandering up a road, a Trash Collector walks by, dragging his stash behind him. This was no ordinary trash collector though! This Trash Collector spoke English! As we passed each other he said to me, "I love you!" I ignored him, but he said, "Hey! I love you! Come here! I will hold you!" I still ignored him. He started following me...apparently I am better than trash. He kept talking to me, "I love you, pretty girl. Come here! I love you!" I turned around and said in Russian, "I don't speak English, go away!" He then started speaking to me in Spanish. I was quite annoyed and didn't really know what to do.

Here I am, lost in Amman with a Trash Collector hitting on me. Lucky for me there was another guy on a corner just up the street. He said to me, "Hey, I you can help!" and so I walked over to him and the Trash Collector left. That was nice. But then the nicer guy wanted to talk to me. I just said that I was supposed to have a meeting and I just need to phone someone to meet them here. He said okay and walked away. Phew...alone again. Lost...but a step up from being followed around by a Trash Collector.

I phoned my contact at Junior Achievement. She said that the person I was supposed to meet with had a baby yesterday morning so I won't be able to meet with them this afternoon. I went home--with a very nice taxi driver who spoke English well and taught me a little more Arabic. I was a little frustrated that I wasn't able to meet with my boss after all that I had been through today, but having a baby is understandable. Maybe next week I will be able to start editing!

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