Grace for a dollar 1.1.14

Casablanca, Morocco January 4th, 2014
As a public speaking teacher, I am constantly learning new things from my students. I don’t remember their names, but I remember the speeches. Oh, you are the one who gave the speech about gay marriage; you are the one who gave the persuasive speech about travel; the one where you argued that it is better to just go somewhere without any prior knowledge, just be surprised along the way. He persuaded me. I went like that to Morocco. Knowing only that people said it was a nice place to go, they had had a colorful history involving Arabs, French, Spanish, and the local Bebers, and that there was a lot of hashish there. I guess that is enough to know. You know I usually bring my own supplies but here I only brought 2 days supply.
I took the all night Chinese bus from Ohio, leaving at 1220 am and arriving at 630 am on New Years day. I went directly to Times Square where people were either staggering around from a night of reveling or cleaning up the mess those people made. I had my travel stuff which was rather heavy, and it was cold. I walked around for awhile but got cold and tired after about 15 minutes. I went into a McDonald’s for refuge. Thank God for the 1 dollar menu. I ordered a large coffee and went to the second floor where there were others like me, travelers, homeless people, extreme manic depressives. I tried contacting my NYC friends but they were all sleeping. Across the way there was a colorfully dressed nice looking young man who kept looking at me strangely, as if perhaps I might attack him at any moment. His pants were pink, he had a floppy black hat and a leopard patterned cape. Not surprising for the night after New years eve in NYC. I nodded to him and he said hi. I returned with a happy new year. He went into a diatribe about the origins of the alphabet and the fact that it was the roman not the English alphabet as is evidenced by “qrst”. I had done my nursing intern in the psych ward and had no problems recognizing and even enjoying the company of a severe manic depressive. Usually they were very polite if you let them know you are just not interested. I listened for a minute, marveling at the brains capacity. You know, some Indians see madness as being close to enlightenment. I looked around and saw that the other people sitting there had pretty much written the crazy guy off. They knew instinctively and from experience to leave him alone, except for one very large black man who seemed very content to sit there in McDonalds reading his worn Bible. He had a beautiful smile on his face, like he was really enjoying being there reading the sacred texts. The manic depressive passed by him and said something to him, one of his random unravels. The large black man just started mocking him. “Oh, you’re a piece of work. You are too too much” The manic knew when he was being mocked. In fact he was super sensitive and he lit into the black man verbally. ” you good for nothing fat black piece of shit, you animal you,,,,” the insults poured out like slime from his foul mouth. Everyone looked up, couldn’t ignore, sensed there might be violence, on the one hand feeling excited about that, and on the other hand feeling some fear that they might get caught up in it. To all this the black man just gave him his beautification smile and, “Oh you are something else.”. This just infuriated the manic more and more until finally we heard a chhhhhh whew, and a stream of mucous flew from the manic and hit the black man right in the face. Wow. Nice shot. We braced for the upcoming violence, but nothing happend. The black man was not about to fight. He just sat there, shaking his head. The manic, seemed deflated by his outburst, and just sat mumbling too himself. After a few seconds the crises seemed past, and things went back to normal, dreary waiting.
It was time for me to go. On the way out I nodded to the manic and stopped by the table of the black man. “Do you really think that teasing the crazy guy, is a Christ-like thing to do?” He cocked his head to the side, considered for a moment, gave me that beautific smile and said, ” Probably not.” Strangely he had just learned something and he humbly accepted it. I guess there still is hope for the world.
I plunged out into the cold and made my way over to Hell’s Kitchen for a delicious Thai lunch. The people in the Thai restaurant were very different from those in the second floor of McDonalds, but I kind of missed the McDonalds people. They were living with real problems, really struggling, and the intensity was much stronger. After lunch I started my trip to the JFK airport and Morocco. It was January 1st, 2014.

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