The man

One day a few weeks ago an old classmate of mine sent me an email asking me if I wanted to make some extra money on the side. She told me that the company she works for takes up orders to make intruction materials for hospitals. They told me that they normally draw pictures and send them with some sets of words to some translations agency to be translated into a few of the new-comers languages. Somali, Arabic, Farsi, and so on. Since they've discovered many wrong translations in the past, they wanted someone else who is also familiar with medical terms to double check the materials.

I rang up the company told them I was free in three weeks time. That was today. They told me that one hour work of translating was worth like 400 SEK, they needed 8 hours of my time and that would amount to 3200SEK. Good money. I was kind of exited about the new expirience. The money? No so much. I got enough of that.

They showed me a big pile of info material for all the major departments that needed to be double checked. The maternity papers made my brain sweat! I was the one who was learning the damn language. The word “womb” is highly appreciated by the Somali people that they awarded a different word in very many different contexts. I felt like a fraud.

All in all I got through it all, made many small changes and was done within four hours. They were surprised. I was not. For me time is worth more money than money itself. They paid me half the money I was supposed to be paid. I was like yeeey “extra money” in my soprano.

They said they normally had a guy who usually came in and did that kind of stuff for them. They said they had orders from schools, and almost every other major departments. They simply wanted me to be their go to girl because they thought I did a good quick job.

I was like hmmm why not? so win win. By not getting attached to money and wasting people’s time and mine made me gain the experience/adventure I needed thus making both money plus reputation with little effort.

Anyway I decided to walk back to mid town since I got lost the first time finding the place and had to take a cab and got charged way more than necessary. “That driver was a smart thief”.

I walked to the central station. My intention was to go through that long hall to the other side of town. No need to rush home and pick up the kids from daycare and school, too early for that besides good things to see in town and reflect upon, like people rushing to catch trains, latest books, perfumes on display, pastries, babies screaming in strollers, people kissing..wait he’s way older hhmmm and finally him!

This somali man in his early 40's comes rushing towards me holding his arms out begging like I’m the savior or something. I almost ran the other way but decided to hear him out anyway.

He said he needed to board a train to Orebro, a town three hours away from where we stood. He said the ticket costed 350SEK. He had 150SEK. He looked beaten, smelled of alcohol and I think I caught some whiff of weed. Still I’m trying my best not to judge him. I told him “ok let’s go get the ticket”. And he says “you know what, give me the money, the train that goes later in the evening is the one that costs 350SEK. But the one that goes now will cost way more” I got irritated and told him. “I won’t give you money but I will help you with the ticket. I told him I would pay whatever it costed to get him aboard now”. The man got also angry, he shrieked “you think I’m trying to con you!” Look there’s my stuff, he pointed to some big bag and some plastic bag piled at some corner. That indicated he was a traveler right? but still? Wait. Without money? I told him again that I was not giving him cash, so we went into the ticket office and the receptionist said the ticket costed xx amount and the train leaves in 20 minutes.

The man reached for his wallet to get his 150SEK and I told him to keep it. I paid with my card the full amount. Before I left him, i stood there and thought to myself what if the only thing he really needed was money? Who was I to deny him that? I had no right to pay for the ticket, maybe this was his sting and I ruined it for him.

This man needed money so much, his desire was so powerful. It got a hold of me, “me being the one who happened to be at that moment feeling very lucky that I just got paid for looking at some papers”.

His desire made me take a detour and walk through the central station which I had no business being there. I seriously felt that if I denied this man that which came easily to me then nothing ever again will come my way easily.

What’s the difference between me and this dude? Nothing. Yet my arm is the one above his in the gesture of giving. I told him to follow me. I led him to the nearest ATM, drew XX amount from my account and gave it to him, thanked him for choosing me and walked passed him Nonchalantly. I felt nothing. No attachment to him, or the Xx amount I spent on a complete stranger and no attachment to this story either but I know for sure which route to avoid next time I’m in town.

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