Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Muslims Part II

My Muslims Part II

Let me tell you a bit about the other person in the accident. He was an American guy, maybe Irish, about 40. He pulled his car out of traffic and parked it at the 14th Avenue curb. His name was Wayne and he stood across the street and didn’t join us at Jamila’s car. Jamila’s 14-year old nephew and 16-year-old niece, Malala, stood with me at the side of the car. Malala called her uncle Lal, Jamila’s husband, and he said he’d be right home.

I thought Jamila should get out her driver’s license, registration and insurance card. She began looking in her bag and produced a card with her husband’s name on it. I said I need to see her driver’s license and the insurance card. After some hesitation, she took it from her wallet and there she was in her hijab in the ID picture. Her face was bright and clear but she wasn't smiling. It was her license and was due to expire in 2012. She had an Allstate card and her name was on it along with her husband’s.

I brought her ID over to Wayne and told him to copy her information including her address and driver’s ID number and the Allstate account number. I asked him for his documentation so I could give it to Jamila. I wondered why this man didn’t approach Jamila and conduct this exchange of information himself. Could it be he knew she would be shy and probably not talk to him in close proximity? Or was she so foreign in his eyes that he felt uncomfortable talking to her? Or did he think she wouldn’t understand him? I didn’t know. I stayed with him for a while and he was convinced that he was in the right and not at fault here. I was pretty sure he wasn’t at fault either. He had been driving on a main street (an avenue) and she was exiting a side street that had a STOP sign. He said I saw her there and never expected she’s pull out into traffic just then.

The damage to Jamila’s car involved her passenger door (she could no longer open it fully). The left fender was dented and leaned into the door. The damage to Wayne’s car was a broken right headlight and a bent fender that pinned his right tire. He told me he had to get to work by 8 o’clock that night out on Long Island and he wasn’t sure he could drive the car.

Frank had called the police at around 4:30. After about 45 minutes we tried calling the precinct to see if a police car had been sent out. But there was no getting through to them. They kept me on hold 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and then the call went dead. I was keeping Jamila abreast of everything I was doing and I though I should ask her if it was all right with her that I was handling this for her. Her eyes filled up and she grabbed my hands and said “Oh thank you, bless you, yes, yes, please help me.”

I felt so much better because I hadn’t been asked to help by her or her nephew or niece. I had just jumped in. Jamila had let her sister-in-law take the kids out of the car and bring them in the house. Since she was on her way to services, Jamila had been fasting since the morning. I said to her, with some sign language, I thought Ramadan and Eid were over. She said yes they were but you can add extra days for extra blessings, and continue fasting. Apparently no one else in the house was doing this extra bit of fasting.

Jamila’s husband arrived after about an hour. The police still hadn’t arrived. Did Jamila look nervous now that her husband had arrived? I told her a few tears might help if she thought he’d be upset...

More to come...

Read Part I here


Annie said...

Can't wait for Part III, Mary. Thank you for coming to Jamilla's rescue. Clearly, she needed help and emotional support and your were there. Hugs, Annie

Anonymous said...

Wayne should have been ashamed of himself. Do not judge lest we be judged. I think it is so wonderful that you just jumped in and helped. I'm sure that you were more help that you realized at the time. Regardless of who is at fault, that's what insurance is all about and having someone that was so helpful as you is just beyond thanks. I was worried after yesterday's story that it was going to get ugly with Wayne. I'm glad it didn't at least for now :) And I hope the husband was there for Jamila as well :)

Dianne said...

it's amazing how you jumped in and helped
you're a good neighbor
maybe Wayne was just a bit in shock?

Greyscale Territory said...

This story is very unsettling but intriguing - highlighting how some prejudices and lack of understanding are still so deep seated! Love how well you handled the situation!