10.13.2006

Mercy

I worked last night for the first time since the night that made me so angsty, pissed-off, and just flat out crabby. It was better, I've decided to adopt a new attitude toward work that will hopefully make things less stressful when they get bad.

This attitude is one of "I don't give a fuck."

It's wonderful. I spent the first three hours of my shift hanging out with friends. Hell, I don't think I actually picked up a fare until 10:30. I've basically decided that I'm going to start working like an owner, even though I still have to pay a lease. I won't be making as much money, but this is fine. I've got enough saved up for a down payment on a cab, and there just isn't really any pressing reason for me to be making as much money as I was. I don't have a family to support, so why bust my ass to make enough money to theoretically do so?

A fair amount of story-worthy things happened last night, all involving women. The most interesting encounter involved driving Mercy Corps' (Crabbie's favorite charity) former deputy director of country for Afghanistan to the air port. I don't remember enough of the conversation to attempt a re-creation here, as I don't want to mis-represent some very nuanced points she was making.

Things I learned:
It's very different being a western woman in Afghanistan in terms of the way men treat you.

They get along pretty well with the Taliban, as they've been in the country for over 20 years and are known and respected. Turning down money from the U.S. government likely helped in this regard.

When she told me that she focued most of her energy while there toward agricultural development, I asked her the obvious question - "what compelling reason can you possibly give an Afghan farmer to not grow poppy?"

Her answer was basically that there isn't one, aside from the moral and religious ones. She explained to me just how much of a miracle crop poppy really is - part of its hardiness is that it's remarkably drought resistant, and it can also be stored for up to 7 years.

We talked a lot about Muhammad Yunus, of whom we're both big fans. I was really, really happy when I heard that he won the Nobel Prize.

Basically, I really love it when I'm able to have intelligent, informed discussions in the cab with people who are, well, truly intelligent and informed. As opposed to, say, drunk people who went to a liberal arts school and watch "The Daily Show." I get them sometimes - this woman, a really cool developmental economist famous in economic circles for hating on classical development economic theory, the nation's leading expert on wind power, etc.

I need to go back to college. This is what the combination of last night and the cranky night has convinced me of.

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