On Eggs and Civility

Holding on

Holding on

This is a story about eggs and civility.

Lumbering down the lane from the Club, encumbered by tennis bags, book bags, lunch bags, I spotted the same taxi we’ve used from this spot for the past several weeks. Liesel immediately recognized its green high-reflective stickers, lacy seat dollies, and Che Guevra placard (also green). I made the half-smile/eye contact with the driver, a bulbous man with soft, puffy features, that means “yes, I need you to give me a ride”. He was waiting in line at a little snack stand, plodded over and said something to me in Myanmar to which I kind of mumbled “uh-huh”. He returned to the line. The girls and speculated on what he was purchasing – betel nut probably, or maybe cigarettes for later. But he returned to us with a bag of eggs – and then proceeded to try to hand them to me.

“Wait. Huh – no… what is this?” I tried to express my confusion in words but we didn’t share the language, so I restored to head shaking and gesturing.

He kept holding up the bag, pointing to me, and also motioning about eyeglasses.

Ding! Flash back to a week ago when I bought eggs at the Club and carried them home along with the usual tennis bags, books bags, and lunch bags – while wearing my glasses. The next day I couldn’t find said eggs at home and conceded they must have been lost somewhere along the way.

It finally clicked – I had left my eggs in this man’s taxi and now, a week later, he was attempting to repay me with new ones, without expectation of payment in return. I smiled and thanked him profusely.

If this type of interaction happened just once here, that would be marvelous. But, no, it happens often. Taxi drivers who return money when they realize you slightly overpaid them, shop owners who basically give away their wares when they realize a child is using her own allowance money to buy a gift, and on and on.

This is just one reason I love Myanmar. Some people speculate this happens because, as Buddhists, they are looking to accomplish good deeds and gain merit for their next reincarnation. Whatever the psychology behind it, it makes living here quite pleasant.

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