Category Archives: non-fiction

She Persisted

Last weekend, I volunteered at Gannon’s graduation ceremonies. It was good to meet other people on campus, not to mention experience the excitement in the air of hundreds of grads finishing one adventure and starting a new one. It was a bit odd with all the COVID restrictions, but it was a win that we could do it at all, and it went off smoothly.

During the third ceremony, I was in the back and saw a girl four rows up struggling with her hood. At Gannon, all the grad, including the undergraduates have hoods that go down their backs. There is a hook in the front and another one in the back to keep the two sides together. It was one thing we were doing all day: arranging hoods and doing up the little hooks.

This girl was trying to straighten out her own by twisting her hand behind her back. She kept at it to the point I felt bad. I would have gone up to help her but I didn’t know if she’d want a strange guy to suddenly come up behind her. I thought of asking one of the female volunteers nearby to help her but they were all engaged.

After a few minutes she got it all straightened out and even managed to hook the two pieces together, sight unseen. Then I noticed how she had decorated the top of her mortarboard: Nevertheless, She Persisted.

Yep, she’ll do okay, I thought. She’s not one to give up.

Actual hat not shown
Unrelated to the main story, but cute

Bus Joy

This piece is unusual for this blog because it’s true. These days I’ve been taking the bus to and from work. It’s not a bad commute, usually only about 15 minutes and the buses are never crowded. If you have to take public transportation, take it where it’s not that popular, as opposed to Korea where I once counted about 90 people on my bus and only then because I was taller than most of them.

The best part of taking the bus (besides sitting and listening to audiobooks) is watching the other people. Most people tend to blend together, just masked figures that get on quietly and sit engrossed in their phones but sometimes someone will stand out.

One is a little girl that has started getting on with her mother a few stops after me. She’s probably about three with a mass of curly hair and every time she gets on the bus, it’s like watching a little Indiana Jones about to embark on a new adventure. She is so excited to be on the bus and looking around with barely contained energy and excitement. Her mother picked her up last time to keep her from charging ahead on her own and the little explorer yelled “Yaaaay!” all the way back to their seats.

On the way home that same day, the bus stopped for an old man with a bald head and a thick white beard that stuck out from his chin like a pharaoh’s beard. He seemed to be homeless and the first thing he did when the doors opened was throw a bundle of blankets and clothes into the bus before going back to get his backpack and other things. Everyone waited while he climbed on, then scooped up all his possessions and pushed them into an empty seat, smiling and saying thank you the whole time. He seemed to be wearing about four shirts of various styles.

Two very different people from different stages of life but both very happy just to be riding the bus.


Sleepless in Hanoi

I normally post only fiction here, but since I’m currently traveling in Southeast Asia for work, I have more than my normal share of interesting stories to share.

Because I’m traveling for work, I actually have to work even in the evenings, although I’m sure some people think I’m just on vacation. This involves hours of emails and other computer work and since I don’t like sitting alone in my hotel room for hours, I like to go to coffee shops

This evening after dinner, I found a second-floor coffee shop on a main road in Hanoi and ordered a medium milk coffee. However, when they brought it, there was almost nothing in the cup. This wasn’t a small, let alone a medium. It looked like the dregs left over when someone finishes their drink. I brought it up and asked about it just to make sure I’d gotten the right thing. They said they’d bring another cup even though I insisted it wasn’t necessary.

Image

Then I tasted it. It was definitely NOT milk coffee. It was very strong and tasted quite like . . . I checked the receipt and yep, they had given me an espresso. I had asked for a ca phe sua (milk coffee) and she had apparently heard the “s” and that was all.

It was about that time that they brought the second espresso. Not only did I feel like a jerk for complaining (from their point of view) that my espresso was too small, but now I had two of them at 8:00 pm. Of course, I wasn’t obligated to drink them, but hey, it was free coffee.

Well, at least I can get a lot done tonight.


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