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1/19/09 Random Act of Kindness

I'd planned to travel home yesterday, but yesterday morning, the screw fell out of my glasses frame, meaning that the lens fell out. I found the lens easily enough, but the screw was gone. Lhumdullah, there's an optometrist in the city near where I was staying, but of course they weren't open on Sundays, so I stuck around another day.

Today, I moved through the hazy, sauna-like world that is Life Without Glasses, and was able to follow the careful directions I'd gotten from a friend to find the office. Which was closed. Morocco, like many European countries, closes down for a few hours around lunchtime. We PCVs usually refer to it as siesta, from Spanish, but I don't know if it has an actual name. When I've asked Moroccans, they seem to find it odd that I'm questioning it. Of course everything closes for three hours. (Sometimes four.) Why does it need a name? That's just the way it is!

Anyway, I found my way to a coffeeshop and settled down with my book to wait. (Note to anyone planning to travel in Morocco: bring a book. A chubby one. You never know when you'll need to wait for an hour or three, and books, at least in my experience, prevent impatience and frustration.) I got a hleeb b shokolat, like I always do in cafes. It literally translates as milk with chocolate, and it's cocoa. The milk is steamed, the chocolate powder sprinkled on top, and sugar cubes served on the side. And it's yummy.

An hour or so later, I tried the office again, and this time it was opened.

I was far enough from home that I didn't try Tamazight, I just went straight to French. Virtually all Moroccan professionals speak French, so it's a safe bet. Sure enough, they had a screw that fit the tiny hole. They patched it up in moments, then handed me the functioning glasses. Lhumdullah! The woman also handed me a glasses-cleaning cloth (which I've been wishing I'd thought to bring - shirts work OK, but lint-free soft cloths work better), saying, "Un cadeau." A present. I thanked her, and asked her how much for the repair. "Oh, fabor," she said, with a wave of her hand. Free. Free?! I tried to protest. Even if the moments of labor were donated, the screw has to cost something. But she wouldn't hear of it. She just smiled, gave me her card, and sent me on my way. For my part, I offered blessings to her parents (a common way to say Thanks a million!) and left with a spring in my step.

I love reaffirmations of the goodness of people.

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