Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm Sikh of Your Silent Treatment

The nursing home in Marin sent someone to assess Flip this morning and she decided that he was too physically active for their facility, as in ambulatory. This issue comes up every time because he is outrageously young for his ailment. Flip and Alzheimer's are a poor match. He has always been athletic and his body still works fine; it's his mind that is losing ground fast. So he is still in the hospital which would like to discharge him, and we still have no working plan.

Tonight I picked up my daughter's cat's drug paraphernalia, and everything is in place. All that's missing is the cat, who arrives tomorrow. My daughter is moving to Paris in a week and while I am thrilled for her, I am desolate that she will be so far away. I don't know when I'll be able to visit her as tending to Flip's care is still a full time job, and I'll have a diabetic cat who gets injections twice a day. But I'm happy that she is following her heart, and can't wait to see how her jewelry design and photography are affected by living in the City of Light. It's always exciting to watch someone's destiny unfold, especially when it's someone I love so much and who has such extraordinary gifts. Her greatest talent, though, is living life to the fullest.

Every night, returning from the hospital, I seem to be in the same lane at the Bay Bridge because the gentleman in the turban is always there. I always say "Hello" to him, or if I am feeling talkative, "Good evening." He never answers. So then I say "Thank you" as I hand him money and he silently turns on the sign which says I paid. Actually he should be thanking me as I am giving him money but he never speaks, although he does make eye contact with me. I always smile, lips closed, no teeth, but he does not.

I think his outfit is Sikh, and wonder as I drive away whether there is a religious taboo which makes it unholy to speak to a strange woman. Sikh teaching emphasizes equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, or gender. Maybe he is silent because the prospect of speaking to everyone who passes through his toll booth is daunting. Or maybe he is mute. He looks like a nice man with kind eyes and I would really like to exchange a human greeting with him. I wonder what would happen if I silently offered him a flower, after paying my toll of course. I wonder where I can find a lotus.


Anonymous said...

I love your idea of offering him a flower along with your toll. You sound as if you could use a few smiles and a full bouquet of flowers yourself. Maybe some merry sunflowers.

I can't imagine the heartache of being where you are with Flip and the lack of options for his care. I wish I could do more than say how sorry I am from a distance.

seventh sister said...

Susan, I lost most of my email addresses when I changed computers last year. I sent you a message through Facebook with the info I prommised.

the walking man said...

You are the lotus throne upon which all goodness sits Susan.

Molly said...

At least he makes eye contact with you. People who can't look you in the eye, no matter how different you are, are missing the fact that we're all muddling through the best way we can, and are much more like each other than differentSo frustrating that the Marin place fell through. I hope they had some helpful suggestions for another place? Otherwise they should take him and just deal with his "athleticism." Hugs from here....

Denise Emanuel Clemen said...

These repeated superficial encounters are a chance for something less superficial. But how to do that? We expect the superficial, I think, in circumstances like the tollbooth, but it seems odd that the encounter should remain so when the contact is repeated over and over again.

nick said...

Oh dear, the search for a suitable resting-place continues. I hope you find somewhere suitable soon.

I doubt if the toll-man's reticence is anything personal. I suspect as you say the prospect of speaking to so many hundreds of drivers is daunting. To meet a nice man with kind eyes is quite enough in this harsh world. Yes, I wonder how he would react to a flower....

Jo said...

I would suspect the Sikh man is "helloed" out. I suspect one of these days you will get a smile, and then a few weeks later you will get a "hello".

You have so much going on in your life right now, I don't know how you manage it. I'm hope the kitty will give you a teeny bit of comfort, at least.

Gina said...

I think it is amazing with all you are going through in your own life that you have the energy to think about other people. You are a woman to be admired.

secret agent woman said...

I'm disappointed about the place in Marin - it sounded very promising.

I really like the idea of you handing the toll booth guy a lotus blossom or any flower at all. What a connection.

mischief said...

I hope your new cat-friend is a comfort and good companion. I also hope your toll booth friend warms up enough to say hello in time. Maybe he just needs to see your lovely smile a few more times before he gets brave enough to talk to you. Or maybe that's why he doesn't talk, because he is intimidated by pretty ladies. *hugs* xx

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I know this will sound corny, but the kind and supportive comments I get here are like a bouquet of flowers.


My email address is on my profile page here and also on Facebook.


Ohhh, I love it when you talk poetry to me.


I guess that place was not meant to be. I do believe that we will be guided to the right situation for our needs.


I am sure the tollbooth man doesn't recognize me from day to day when he sees hundreds of people. It's far easier for me to remember him since his context doesn't change.

Thank you for your visit!


For all I know, offering him a flower could be a courting ritual in his culture, so I don't think I'll do that. Maybe I should wash my car, though.


I think there is a lot of wisdom in the One Day at a Time philosophy.

Today, my turbaned toll taker was not there, but a very cute young man in dreadlocks was. He spoke to me and seemed solicitous as he handed me my change, making sure I had it before he let go. I call this progress.


Another new face! I'm so glad you're here, and thank you for your very kind comment.


You don't think it's like throwing panties at rock stars? It's not like I'm after the guy - I just have a fascination with other cultures and frankly, I'm not used to my friendliness not being reciprocated. It's humbling, but kind of amusing, too.


He looks as if he knows things. And the new toll guy does, too, but I suspect they're different things. Maybe someday when I've accepted that the old man in the turban will never speak to me, he'll say something earthshaking. I am not patient- I'm an instant gratification type American, but hey,nobody's perfect.

TechnoBabe said...

Or an olive branch?

Your daily life is exhausting. When I think my life is hard I just look at yours. I was feeling sorry for myself today and then I read this post. I hurt for you and for Flip. So much is unfair. I can only keep sending you hugs.

Anonymous said...

I like the image atop this post. I like the colors - his skin, his facial hair, his clothes. Much like your words below it - all the layers and verve of life. Good, bad, complex, simple.

You had kind thoughts but I wonder how many people use the quick, drive-through of a tollbooth to hurl insults his way for his differences. Maybe that is the reason for his silence or his reluctance. Maybe. I like the idea that a flower could break through.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Keep 'em coming,please. I run on hugs.


It's a pic from Google Images, but facially resembles my toll booth man, whom I haven't seen since I wrote this. He's gone. I hope it wasn't something I said. :)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

There is light in your soul that Paris could only dream of.


Lots of love to you sweet lady.