Now that I think about it, this sounds like a typical Tuesday for a Congressman, only I didn't have to report for a "floor vote," and I don't have adequate healthcare or a limo driver.
After calling a cab, which would transport me to my much anticipated day off, the neighbors assured me that this restaurant would be closed on Tuesday.
I'm convinced that restaurants in New Orleans consult a Ouija Board or the Magic 8-Ball when scheduling hours of operation and/or hiring practices. Nonetheless, I was on a mission, thus disregarding the naysayers who tried to rain on my lunch parade.
I hopped in the cab and headed down the road to an afternoon of guilty pleasure.
The cabbie, Mr. Tahir, hesitantly offered that he also suspected that the restaurant might be closed today. Another naysayer!
After a few moments of silence, the cab driver sheepishly asked, in broken English:
"What does stub-born mean?"
I asked that he repeat the question, making sure that I'd heard him correctly. After a short period of deep reflection, I answered:
"An Ex girlfriend?"
Tahir shot a puzzled stare to the backseat through the rear view mirror, not understanding good old American apathy. After sadly realizing that I was not, in fact, on an episode of "Cash Cab", I searched my thoughts so that I might be able to better explain the concept of stubborn in a way that Tahir would best understand. I would do so via real-world examples. Sort of like the 70's television program, "Good Times," only not as racially stereotypical.
My first thought was to use current events as it relates to his country's relations with Pakistan but I felt that instigating a Holy War in the backseat of a cab could possibly result in some sort of Homeland Security infraction or come across as insensitive...which might anger Anderson Cooper.
I began by explaining the foundation of stubborn behavior and decisions; I noted that there are GOOD types of stubborn:
Actions which effect an overall positive and productive outcome
And BAD types of stubborn:
A network that feels it to be a good idea to give Arsenio Hall another late night television talk show because Donald Trump likes him.
I likened the bad stubborn to the child who has been repeatedly told to NOT touch the cake on the kitchen counter only to ignore simple instructions, proceeding to eat half the cake.
I then asked Mr. Tahir if that made sense. He matter of factly shared that he would have beaten the child with a stick.
There's something decidedly funny to me about the image of someone being beaten with a stick. However, I felt that my example didn't break the international communication barrier.
Understanding that my cabbie hails from a land rife with triumphs, tragedies, setbacks and technological revolution over the centuries, I felt it to be best that I go back to the drawing board; this time I would employ the use of historical perspective in defining "stubborn."
I began with GOOD stubborn as it relates to the Wright Brothers and the first airplane.
After numerous personal failures, the Wright brothers never gave up. They finally swallowed their pride and went through marriage counselling with their wives so that they might go on to experience a dismal home life COUPLED with numerous failures at work. This led to a brief bout of alcoholism and sexual experimentation for Wilbur. He later divorced.
However, these personal and professional failures steeled their resolve to do what everyone else does (cheat on their wife) while developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem." While their competitors were busy developing the first airport bar which charges $15.00 for a double Jack and Coke, the Wright boys were developing a contraption that would lead to the construction of the world's worst airport...Newark, New Jersey.
Cart before the horse is an example of BAD stubborn, as I explained to Tahir.
I pointed out to Tahir that, by not giving up, Orville and Will blazed (con) trails in modern aviation. Of course it ultimately led to inadequate maintenance, causing horrific plane crashes. But, it also ushered in numerous jobs to the economy with the creation of the NTSB and first responders.
Those few moments on a rail runway in the middle of a North Carolina sand dune led to modern marvels such as barely edible in-flight food, cranky customers poured into seats no larger than a child's tricycle seat for $800 a pop while waiting for alcohol service in order to tolerate the ugly kid who keeps staring over the forward seat.
At any rate, I suspect that the Wright Brothers likely constructed the first aircraft so that they might escape their wives to a land of professional football and beer.
While Tahir seemed responsive to our flight down Stubborn Street, I held a low level of confidence that I'd effectively brought him to the other side of the answer he sought. So...I felt that a more modern-day example might help.
I used the most logical example which floats to the top of mind for most people...the Uni-Bomber.
His was a special stubbornness in that it was a prime example of good AND bad stubborn. It even prompted a lengthy manifesto and one of the WORST police sketch artist renditions of a suspect.
But, I thought better of using improvised explosive devices as an example of stubbornness to a cabbie who hails from a country where explosives are randomly handed out like Halloween candy.
By the way, In doing research for this piece, I made time to actually read the Uni-Bomber manifesto and gained a significant level of insight in three areas:
1. His writings provided fairly accurate predictions of things to come in an increasingly hi-tech society.
2. He probably should have utilized a more socially acceptable way of promoting his words. Perhaps a book signing tour at Barnes and Noble over coffee and crumb cakes.
3. Reading the Unibomber manifesto at work draws unwanted attention from management and the IT staff.
Suddenly, it hit me! Earlier, while waiting for the cab, my neighbor, Katie, raced across the street toward my porch. Panting, she explained that she needed help zipping up the back of a dress which she'd purchased at a thrift store.
For five minutes I struggled with this stubborn zipper, trying to avert my eyes from a very bottom to top exposed Katie.
After the zipper finally came off track, we both finally agreed that this wasn't going to work. She thanked me and walked back to her house, half dressed, as I stood there wondering if the neighbors suspected that I might have just committed a sex crime.
Hers was a case of good stubborn:
Not giving up until all avenues have been explored and bad stubborn by purchasing a dress that is a full size too small in order to save a buck.
My friend Leigh recently shared a case of stubbornness within her family. Seems that her uncle was wrapped within the miserable confines of a second marriage. When asked why he wouldn't simply get a divorce, he resolutely explained that, in Texas, appearances are important.
It's also important to note that this gentleman was eventually murdered by his second wife. So, I suppose appearances in Texas result in Darwin's theory in action...NOT stubbornness.**
**Note: I truly wouldn't mind if Texas would secede from the United States.
I took a final stab with my explanation to Mr. Tahir by likening stubborn behavior to that of a small child who doesn't want to share his/her toys. When one of the other children dares to touch one of the toys, the child purposely destroys the toy and gathers the rest, stomping away. Thus, depriving his/herself of a fun day at the playground.
Tahir stared blankly through the rear view for a moment. I broke the silence by adding:
"...And then the kid gets beaten by his parents with a stick for not sharing."
An exuberant smile crossed Tahir's face; the proverbial light bulb proudly beamed above his head and I felt that I did my part in crossing international boundaries in the area of sociology while averting phrases which might possibly trigger a Jihad.
We finally arrived to the curbside in front of the restaurant when I spotted the bright red placard perfectly centered on the front door reading:
I sighed and, after a moment of realization and defeat had set in, Tahir hesitantly broke the silence by asking:
"Good stubborn, no?"
I smiled, before answering: "NO and...yes ."
Realizing that, on my quest for a meat and three lunch, I should have listened to both Tahir AND my neighbors. Bad stubborn I suppose.
As we headed toward home, I enjoyed the fruits of good stubborn on the wings of a flightless bird (with a side of turnip greens and mashed potatoes) as Tahir drove me to a nearby fried chicken drive-thru window.
I suppose we're all stubborn at times. Whether good or bad, only time will tell and history will be the ultimate judge. Until then, I'll optimistically wait. But, that's just me being...
copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013
Author's note: My editor feels strongly that using the words: Jihad, holy war, Unibomber, sex crime, Homeland Security, Anderson Cooper, improvised explosive and fried chicken might draw unwanted keyword attention to this writing. I would suspect that inviting Texas to step out of the Union would bring about more harm to my well being.