Posted by: mdmusingsie | June 26, 2010

Information, please

I’m amazed at how many times I’m stopped on the street and asked for directions here in Ireland. The first time it happened I had only been here one day and it happened again today as I was walking back from the grocery store. In between, it has happened a number of other times, at least once a week, including my token day in Dublin.

I was sitting on concrete stairs, alternately writing some new passages for one of my novels in my little notebook and staring across the River Liffey as I waited for my bus back to Galway to arrive, when a woman, American, came up and asked me directions to Trinity College. I knew vaguely where it was and was able to point her in the right direction using her map. It wasn’t like I had spoken to anyone recently that would have clued her in that I was American. I had been sitting there silent for at least 15-20 minutes and there were certainly other people about who she could have asked, yet she chose me.

The range of people that ask is quite broad as well. Everything from Irish to American to other foreigners. What’s even more strange, to me at least, is that most of the time I can actually help them.

What I can’t seem to figure out is why people choose me to ask? Maybe some of you reading this can help me figure this out. There isn’t an “information” or “directions, here” sign tattooed on my forehead (unless it’s invisible to me), nor is there one on the front or back of my shirt. I suppose there could be one suspended above my head, but if there were I think I would be receiving some very curious looks.

The best I can figure out is that I somehow look “safe” or “harmless” or something of the like. Maybe I look confident, though at least once that I’ve been asked, I wasn’t quite sure which direction I needed to go myself. I guess I should be flattered that these people think that I look “native” enough to assist them; though becoming an Irish resident has been a thorn in my side for nearly 5 years as I struggle to find someone to sponsor me for a job. Once recruiter told me my best shot might be to marry an Irishman. Right! I couldn’t find anyone in a country of 300 million people, and I’m supposed to find someone in a country of little more than 3-4 million? Marrying for the sake of residency isn’t my style anyway – I don’t settle for second best.

Whatever the reason, hopefully I will continue to be helpful to those in need. I have been thankful for the assistance I have received when I needed it. It must be my small part to play on this interesting journey.

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