In the classic hip hop track “It was a good day”, Ice cube in detail describes what a good day looked like to him while living in South Central LA in the early 90’s. no barking from the dog, Breakfast with no hog, he didn’t have to use his AK, no one he knew got murdered in South Central La and he had no beef with the cops. They just drove right past him. And of course he got a beep from Kim (who can go all night). While I thought this was cool, a lot of people wondered how simply not killing somebody, avoiding getting arrested or eating a pork free breakfast could constitute a good day. Looking back on it, what constitutes a good day or bad day is one’s own perspective and experience.
A few weeks back I was having a pretty crappy day. When I woke up I was tired and cranky. It was a friday. I spent thursday night arguing with my wife . That morning my house was loud with an eerie and uncomfortable silence. Great, I thought to myself, how long was this no talking business going to last this time? The temperature was in the mid 50’s which is cold for Morocco and it was raining. The clouds were gray and heavy, and dripping lots of water. The palm trees which usually were front and center to my eye, stand in the background unnoticed on this dreary day.
I am the assistant coach of the basketball team and we were hosting our season ending championship tournament. I had been putting a lot of hours in for practice, travel and games. While well worth it, all the work was making me tired and put me in a bad mood. I got to school, I meet up with the team and we won the first game pretty easy. We are the favorites to win it all so it was what was expected. The concrete walls and metal seats made the gym feel like an igloo. Buildings in Morocco are cold during winter because there is no heat or insulation. Just to add a little more cold to my day, all of the gym doors are open, blowing cold air and dampness into the ice gym. All of a sudden, I feel my phone vibrate. During halftime I take a quick peek, it was my wife texting me “what time am I going to take her to an appointment. I forgot I had to drive her to see a client. So I rush out after the game. In my haste, I forgot my umbrella and I got soaked on the way to my car. I go pick up my wife, we are still not talking. So between that and me sitting in wet pants, with cold and wet feet the car ride is extra awkward and uncomfortable.
Addresses in Morocco are pointers, not final destinations. So of course we got lost. After several roundabouts and passing by the giant Marjone (Moroccan Target) we find the place. As my wife gets out of the car she reminds me to pick her up in about an hour and a half. That means that I will be squeezed for time, trying to make it back for the second game of the tournament. As I am leaving, I get lost again. I finally find my way through endless roundabouts, goat pulled wagons and that jerk in the Benz who cut me off while I was making a left.
While I am at a red light, a pregnant woman drenched in the rain and with a baby tied to her back asked me for money. This kind of poverty is seen common here and usually I stop to help out by giving money, but not today. I waved my finger no and just moved on. I didn’t have time or patience to show compassion. As I pulled off from the light I kind of felt bad about not helping her out, but before my thoughts went any further I realized that I was almost out of gas. I have had the not so fun experience of running out of gas, pushing my car to the side and walking about 3 or 4 miles to get a water bottle filled with gas. Luckily this time I got to the gas station in time.
After quickly engulfing my lunch, I went back to pick up my wife. On my way I saw the pregnant lady who was asking for money with the infant on her back. When I got closer I saw that she had a smile on her wrinkled and weathered face. There was a pain and a wince in her smile and her eyes told a sad story, but still there was something genuine in it. The smile really made me think; I am I really having a bad day? I get to teach and coach internationally, I woke up warm and dry in my nice house overlooking the ocean. My wife and daughter are healthy and love me. I may get lost and run out of gas, but at least I have a car! Then I wondered Where was this woman going to go to sleep tonight? When was the last time her child ate three meals in a day? My problems of the day were starting to feel really trivial compared to what I imagined this woman had to endure on a daily basis. I drove the car next to her, pulled down the window, said bonjour and put 20 durham into her overworked, dry and cracked hand. The lady was happy to receive the small donation. She said shukran in an unassuming way using a soft voice.
My day itself did not really change much. My wife was still mad at me, it was still a cold rainy day and I was still cranky and tired. Yet somehow it just did not seem to matter that much to me. To even call these minor inconveniences would be an overstatement. I knew tomorrow or the next day would be better. I am thankful that the woman taught me a valuable lesson on perspective. It was clear I really needed it. You never know who or what will show up to be your teacher. If this was a “bad day” then I live a very fortunate life. I have now been reminded of that and do not need the lights of the goodyear blimp to remind me. Now if the Lakers could just beat the Supersonics!