It was way past midnight, and I just landed at BWI in
Just before take off, I thought I’d call my colleague and make sure he’s at the same place where I was going, and sure enough, he told me he was not. He wasn’t in Beltsville, he was in New Carrolton proper!
It was well past midnight when my plane landed, and we didn’t hit the road until a little bit after one in the morning. I inquired with the lady at the counter if there was any way they could change my destination from Beltsville to New Carrolton (they couldn’t possibly be that far from one another), she said that she could not help. If I wanted to do that, I had to call the reservation office and sort it out with them.
After thinking about it for a split second, I decided that it may be too confusing for these folks if I had to make another reservation, and was worried that I’d have to do a lot of follow up afterwards if they charge my credit card twice. I figured I’d go to Beltsville, and once there, I can decide whether I wanted to spend the night there or take a taxi to the New Carrolton Ramada.
I was a bit surprised when I got into the shuttle van at how loud the radio was. The driver had the BBC on (apparently through one of the public stations), and he kept it on even after we hit the road. There was myself and another couple in the van, and I could tell that the other couple were extremely tired! They tried to ask the driver a couple of questions, but he was too focused on the news to here what they were saying, let alone respond to them. While that was going on, I phoned the New Carrolton Ramada to inquire about how far they were from Beltsville, but they were unable or unwilling to provide any assistance. I was a bit mad, but after having stayed there for three nights, I came to find out that this was standard business practice for them. I concluded that this was yet another hotel to add to my “I’m never ever staying here even if they pay me” list.
The driver’s attachment to the news was unusual to me, and his disregard to the never spoken rule of “never disturb the passengers with radio or music that’s too loud” made me even more curious. Having the BBC on, loud as it may be, never bothered me, especially that they were reporting live from
As I leaned back quietly in my seat, I just kept wondering why this man was so intently listening to the coverage, at the risk of drawing complaints and possibly protests from his tired late night passengers. The passengers didn’t complain, and the ride seemed to go smoothly. I wanted to engage the driver in a conversation, but I did not want to add to the noise, and besides, I wasn’t sure how he’d take my personal questions, especially in the presence of others.
The couple was dropped off first, and the driver and I continued on to Beltsville, when he turned to me all of a sudden, asking me if everything was OK with my hotel reservation, since he heard me talking to the hotel. I explained to him my situation, and he instantly offered to take me directly to New Carrolton. Taking him up on his offer, I thanked him very much, and used the opportunity to ask him the question that was nagging me, and that’s where he was from and why he was listening to the news so intently.
“I am from
We continued to talk about
We continued to talk, and he started to tell me how Ethiopians are usually sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. He surprised me though when he told me that he wasn’t Jewish, and that he was a Coptic Christian. “Don’t you know? 30% of the Jews who migrated to
I wondered in the back of my mind how quick human beings are to judge each other. We have gotten so used to profiling one another such that a person’s label or nationality give so many answers and lead us to a great deal of sometimes incorrect assumptions, causing us to hate and sometimes kill each other without a valid reason. If I ever needed a reminder of how unique and special every individual on this earth is, that was it.