Over the course of the last 24 hours, I have succeeded in making both small children and grown adults cry. I most definitely intended to make the children cry. But making my parents cry?
That wasn't on the agenda.
For me, it all began with a rainbow poncho, a large sombrero, and a fake mustache. It was Halloween night, and my school's fall festival was about to begin. After the Junior class put the final grotesque details on our Haunted House, we opened for business. As the very first children entered the house, I decided to stay and watch. I could see all the action perfectly, even if the window was a little.....
It was through this window that I saw the horrified expressions of many children. I know that I probably sound like a psychotic sadist, but scaring kids is real good fun. I signed up for setup and cleanup duty, so I never really did any of the hardcore scaring. I left that to the kids who weren't dressed up as a stereotypical Mexican.
Initially, all of the kids that went through the house seemed to have come out the other end with at least one reason to have recurring nightmares, but as the evening dragged on, the repeat-scarees became increasingly numbed to the screeches of my zombie peers. Some even started fighting back. I heard that one belligerent child, brandishing a hard wooden sword, attacked every jump-scarer. (Maybe his parents should have bought him a pair of red horns instead of that weapon...) At any rate, I was content to just scream occasionally from the comfortable couch inside my room.
At long last, the 2013 Fall Festival Haunted House sent off its last victims. Quickly, we changed the music from Halloween stock sounds to happy, dance-while-you-clean tracks. Compared to set-up, taking down our deathly decorations was definitely a different story. We ripped the black fabric off the walls, wiped the ketchup off the windows, and disassembled Alex Mueller's "Gorilla Spider". In only few short minutes, we transformed the middle-school hallway back to its original (and more frightening) form.
Amira Subaey, our Junior Class president, came up to me and asked me how I thought the night went. "Was is interesting enough to make it onto the blog?" She asked. I kind of laughed, because even though I had fun bringing tears to the eyes of the young, I didn't think I was going to blog about my night. Little did I know that the Haunted House was just the appetizer for the evening.....and that the main course was going to be almost more than I could handle.
At about 7 pm, I went to my locker, gathered my school things, and looked for a taxi that would take me to Nation Towers. Long before Halloween night, I planned to go check out a free event on the Corniche (a huge beachfront walkway...) called "Beats on the Beach" with a friend from church named Megan Springer. I walked a short distance and found a spot where I thought I could catch a cab. Unfortunately, the only thing I got was a lot of weird looks. ("What? You've never seen an American in a flamboyant poncho frantically wave his arms looking for a ride?") Eventually, I clambered into an empty cab and started towards Nation Towers. At the end of the ride, the taxi driver told me that I had been waiting in an odd spot, and that in the future, I should wait at a nearby grocery store called Spinney's if I ever wanted to find a taxi. I took his advice, and he took my money.
Tired, sweaty, and poncho'd, I rode the elevator up to the Megan's floor and rang her doorbell. She let me in and I set down my things. Her dad offered me some lukuwarm pizza, and I graciously accepted, because at that point, the only things I had eaten since lunch were a few ruffles and a fun-size snickers bar. After scarfing that cheesy goodness down, Megan and I went downstairs and walked to the Corniche. Once we were there, the fun began. First, we unexpectedly encountered some sort of U-17 World Soccer shindig. As we walked through, I spotted a man walking around with a falcon on his arm. I made eye contact with falcon-man and non-verbally expressed my approval of his avian friend. In return, he motioned us over with his free hand and let us pet the falcon. I really really really wanted to take a picture, but when I took out my phone, I discovered that my battery had, unfortunately, "passed".
After walking further along the Corniche, Megan and I arrived at "Beats on the Beach". As we walked across the sand and towards the stage, I looked around at the members of the audience. They were almost all Filipino. Once we had arrived safely in the middle of the crowd, the DJ clarified things by loudly announcing "THIS IS THE FIRST EVER FILIPINO NIGHT IN THE HISTORY OF BEATS ON THE BEACH!!!" The crowd cheered in response, and I wondered why we had come to listen to Filipino pop music that I wouldn't even understand. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. At all.
After we got tired, we grabbed some ice cream at a Baskin Robbins stand and casually ambled back along the Corniche to Nation Towers. Wearily, we stumbled into the elevators, pressed "45" and started our journey upwards. While we were in the elevator, I decided to look down at my watch. When I did so, my heart sank. "Holy crap, Megan." I said in shock. "It's flipping 12:27 a.m." She hadn't thought to check the time either and she was equally shocked. My thoughts immediately turned to my firm, 12 a.m. curfew, and to my mother, who would most likely be up waiting anxiously for me to come home. I thought to call, but then I remembered that my phone was dead. I realized then that if I didn't get home soon, that I might meet the same fate as my phone's battery. Quickly, I gathered my things and Megan and I rode the elevator back down to the lobby.
We walked out to the main road that runs along the Corniche and we began to look for an empty taxi. There were 8 other people right there, looking for the same. After about 12 minutes of waiting at that taxi stand, I remembered the advice that the taxi driver had given me earlier that evening. "You should wait at Spinney's if you ever want to find a taxi. That's a popular place." Megan and I walked to Spinney's, hoping that I would be able to find a ride. We waited in the Spinney's taxi stand for about 20 minutes before an open taxi pulled up....But a man had been waiting there before me, and out of courtesy, I let him take it. Another 20 minutes passed before I saw another empty taxi coming down the road towards me. My heart took flight!! At LAST!!! THIS CA-Suddenly, about halfway down the street, a man ran out of nowhere, flagged the cab down, and climbed in.
I was mad, and rightfully so. Megan suggested that I call a cab using her phone. I called her a genius, and then called the cab company. After holding for a few minutes, a man answered and asked me where I was, where I needed to go, and what my name was. I told him, and he told me that he'd send a text when he was there. With renewed hope, we waited for the cab to text. 10 minutes later, Megan's phone chimed and I read the message. Basically, it said this. "Sucks to suck, there aren't any cabs coming to get you." I was mad, and rightfully so.
With literally no more options, we did as we had done. We watched and waited. After another excruciating half-hour of watching full cabs roll by, I decided to try a new spot. Megan and I walked over to a gas station and waited there for a taxi. Eventually, an occupied taxi pulled into the gas station, but I was determined to get into that cab. I ran alongside the moving vehicle until it stopped at a pump. The previous passenger paid and departed. As soon as he cleared out, and threw my stuff onto the front seat of that taxi like a conquistador claiming territory for his country. I turned around, waved goodbye to Megan, and sat in the cab.
Never before had I been happier in a smelly taxi. As the attendants at the gas station filled the tank, I told the driver how ecstatic I was to be in his cab. After telling him, I realized that I was almost awkwardly enthusiastic, but he understood and explained that because of "Beats on the Beach", all taxis were taken. After paying for gas, he started driving me home to Abu Dhabi mall. Because I had already conversed with him, there were no barriers between us, and he started to ask me about America and about how I like the UAE. I told him that so far, I loved the Emirates almost as much as Texas. He told me about his country, Bangladesh, and how he felt about being in the Emirates as a Taxi driver. After telling me all of the rules and regulations he has to comply with, he said something interesting. "I have a big heart." He explained. "But here, my heart is small. Too much rules make it small."
There was a reflective pause in our conversation, and for a moment, my heart truly went out to this man that was taking me home at 2 a.m. But then he ran a red light, cut somebody off, and proceeded to profanely express his feelings about the driver he had just cut off...............He pulled into the Abu Dhabi mall stand, and I gave him the fare.
After I shouldered my heavy pack, I started up a parking garage ramp that led to our apartment building's lobby. Exhausted and weary, I stumbled through the glass doors and gave a weak salute to the guard at the counter. He laughed and I laughed as well. I slapped the "up" button on the elevator. In the elevator, I once again thought of my family. "I wonder if they're awake?" I thought. I exited the lift and went up to the door to apartment 2401. For a moment there, I paused and listened. Inside the apartment, I heard my mother crying, and my heart broke.
I rang the doorbell, and as soon as Sam opened the door, I went to my mom and hugged her tightly. I didn't care if I was grounded forever, I just wanted to comfort her. After we had embraced, I told her as quickly as I could what had happened and why I was so late. At the end of my explanation, She understood that while I had made mistakes in judgement, there were factors out of my control that prevented me from getting home earlier. Worst of all, I think, is that I didn't know any of my family members' phone numbers, so I was unable to let them know that I was alive. Sam called my Dad who had been out driving around the city, looking for me. After my mom and I discussed what we would do to prevent another ordeal like this one, she told me that it would be best for us all to go to bed. Wearily, I agreed, but I decided that I needed to wait for my dad to come home.
Seeing my mom so upset had literally torn my heart apart, and I didn't know what I was going to do when my dad came home. When he walked in the door, all that he did was come over and give me a long, warm hug. With tears in my eyes, I told him how sorry I was. He just held me, and I held him. After we let go, he told me to get some rest. Wearily, and with a broken, but warmed heart, I crawled into bed and went to sleep.
Such is life. NM