The Kindness of Strangers

We had one night left in Jordan. The flight was early in the morning so we figured we didn’t need our car anymore. When we saw our prospects for spending the night in the airport, we decided we should see downtown Amman. The cab fares were posted helpfully on the wall based on distance from the airport so we planned to negotiate a rate a little over the posted price to have the driver swing by some of the Roman ruins and then drop us off at a restaurant. The typical cluster of drivers began vying for our business and all tried to charge us double the posted price since we were asking so much of them.

As the intensity of negotiations grew, a gentleman approached who spoke perfect English and offered to help with the negotiations. It turns out he was from Lansing and knew the Detroit area very well. “I’m going to tell you a price and you shake your head NO” he told me. Then he argued and got the drivers to agree to our price. We thanked him and got his card and headed out to the taxi.

We put our larger carry on bags in the trunk and felt like we had a deal. Then a different driver opened Bella’s door and said “You know, you’re asking a lot of the driver and he really can’t do it for the agreed upon price” or something like that. Bella said “That’s it! Deal’s off! Get out of the car!”

Her instincts told her that somewhere along the way we were going to get shaken down for more money and our bags were hostage. Since then, we’ve taken Just A Carry On so that we never have to surrender our bags to cab drivers or bus drivers, but that’s another story.

We went back into the airport and the gentleman from Lansing came over to us again. It turned out he was a driver for a hotel and he really felt sorry for us. He offered to take us in his personal car and drove us downtown.

The Citadel was closed, yet he talked the guard into letting us in.

IMG_1478From there we could see the amphitheater:

IMG_1472Upon hearing our plan to spend the night in the airport, he offered to let us spend the night in his apartment with his aunt and uncle. It turned out he was Christian, so we offered to buy beer (of course) as a thank you gift. He took us to a liquor store and we parted with what was essentially $27 US for a six pack of Corona Extra. He took us to his building and proudly showed off his Christmas lights on the balcony. They were hard to miss, since they were the only ones in the whole building. We spent the night trading stories and gaining a greater understanding of both US immigration laws and the Jordanian culture and then left the next morning with a new FaceBook friend.



I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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