Earlier, while we were at the park I’d talked to Shama, who talked to Abdulla, about how since we didn’t even go a third of the distance we had paid for, I should be getting some of the money back…right?
Pretty much as soon as we got back to the center I said something to Abdulla. (Poor guy. He kind of got stuck being in charge for the day. He is young, responsible, and has a very serious way about him.) He goes to get Mohammed (the part time teacher for Islamic studies for the Muslim boys who came along and took charge along with Abdulla for the day). In these 2 minutes the bus driver leaves straight away.
So Abdulla tries to call him, puts him on the phone with Mohammed. I was in the office listening as they talked/yelled. At this point I’m feeling tired, frustrated, and kinda hurt that this guy peaced out knowing full well he should not keep all that money. I was very glad that Moh was on the phone advocating for me/the right thing. So they yell back and forth about who is right. Moh says that the center would never use him for transport again and said something about Musa and then the conversation is over. I’m thinking the driver and Musa will sort it out later. Great.
Two minutes later driver man and his helper guy come in the office. I’m in there with Moh. They start talking/yelling and I’m feeling really awkward and wondering if I should just scoot out, but also feeling like I need to be there because none of the other teachers are there and Moh doesn’t work for the center so much that he is just there sometimes and I don’t know him that well and it’s sort of my problem that he is dealing with. So I stay put and stare at the floor.
Then the driver directs his attention to me and starts spouting off really quickly about him getting up early and the park and the bus and all this. I’m like “Um…[gulp]…” and I start explaining that I know that being turned around wasn’t his fault and all that but that the money was for a full day and approx. 10 hours of gas/travel time and we only used maybe 3.5 hours. As I’m talking Moh leaves the office leaving me just in there with this guy and his helper. When I’m done talking he launches again into nonsense about how he was on time and had to pick up the bus and not addressing anything that I said at all. I’m sitting there feeling young, stupid, and incredibly uncomfortable. Moh comes back in the room and I just say that I am young, I’m new to the desert, and he and Musa need to talk and figure it out and I shouldn’t be the one having this conversation and wasn’t going to anymore. As I’m talking, much to my own dismay, my voice cracks and my eyes get watery because I SHOULD NOT BE THE ONE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION WITH THE DRIVER! HELLO! Any one of the other teachers should be in the room instead of me. Where were they?!
So I walk out and go to the bathroom and cry for a minute. I hate that I did it, but frustrated tears are the hardest to fight and always come at the worst moments. I was frustrated for the situation and him being ridiculous and for basically being left by myself do deal with it. There was no way that was appropriate at all. This was the sort of thing I was nervous about when Musa said he wasn’t going. These sorts of situations need a director and person in charge.
So I come out and Shama is like, “Don’t cry, it’s fine” and puts her arm around me like all of this is really silly. I smile over clenched teeth and I’m like “No-it’s-fine-I’m-fine-just-tired-I’m-fine-it’s-fine” but thinking “Stop. Touching. Me.” I don’t think a well meaning arm around the shoulder does anything to help a person who is aggravated. Personal opinion. Anyway.
Driver man comes over and tells me how he has a daughter my age and other stuff that I could not care less to hear about. I feel the need to say “No, I’m not upset [a lie], I’m just tired, sometimes girls cry, you know?” Pretend like he isn’t the one causing all this consternation. Ugh. So finally, praise the Lord, someone gets Musa on the phone. Musa and he yell at each other for a little while and it is finally agreed that he return about a third of the money. (He still made out with a ludicrous sum.) He gives me about half the agreed upon amount, as that is all he has with him, but needs to leave and come back to get the rest.
I’m sitting in the office for a few minutes waiting and Abdulla is there. I thank him. He says, “No, I’m upset too.” Which made me feel a little better, just even that he too acknowledged how ridiculous the driver was being.
The drivers helper returns a few minutes later with the rest and I say bye and practically run out the door to go home. It’s a good thing that no creepy guys messed with me on the bus, as happens occasionally, because based on the way I was feeling he probably would have ended up with a serious elbow to the ribs or finger in the eye or something.
Sunday night I called the director lady to talk about what happened. I was hesitant to do so because it feels a little bit like whining or tattling, but she needed to know the basics and why I will never be doing anything like this again. She said that Musa and Shama were already in trouble. Musa for not going on the trip and not getting the paper that he well knew they would need. She asked me if I knew what happened about the cupboard. Apparently Musa broke into Shamas cupboard and it was full of food, not for the boys, presumably bought with my money. Sigh. Director lady was also upset to learn that not only did the director not go, neither did the second in command, and just two part time teachers and none of the four full time teachers. She was as dismayed by this news as I had been.
At the end I told director lady I wasn’t upset. What can you do? Just that it had been an entirely frustrating experience from start to finish and I would not be doing anything like this again. She said if she was me she’d be furious, but perhaps I am a bit more pragmatic than she. This made me feel nice for whatever reason. So I’m glad I gave her a brief run-down. I’m sad for anyone to be “in trouble” from the experience, because since the whole thing was my idea I feel slightly at fault for that. But, lessons learned. No more planning trips for me and proceeding very cautiously if I ever have anymore seemingly bright ideas.