Character Tuesday: Fort Myer’s Vulgar Violin Player

“I got to play the violin…” said before he trailed off into a crescendo of Italian opera. “No one should be working on a Sunday,” he continued.

I gave him a sideways glance at him from behind my computer screen. I was curious, but careful not to encourage him. I was trying to get him to loose interest. He continued as he fumbled with his things, taking out papers and putting them back, rearranging the order of his belongings. “That’s why I ain’t got a girl… ya can’t trust them. Hell, I can’t trust myself with them…” I wondered if that was some sort of warning.

A few minutes before he started indirectly warning me from a few empty tables away, he had flung open the door of the café and casually looked me, careful not to be too obvious.

I was sitting alone drinking hot ginger tea in the shady patio of a café in Fort Myers. There was enough seating to hold twenty or so people, but at golden hour on the day of the Super Bowl, sports bars were more attractive to the retired crowd than vegan coffee shops. I was there with my computer, my journal and my kindle, trying to escape the noise of my own home.

“Hello, how are ya,” he said without looking at me as he walked in front of my table, taking a seat at the table next to me. He was wearing a striped polo shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. I noticed from behind his backpack that he hand a hunched back, and he walked with the sort of stride that hinted at an injury that never healed or an aging hip that no longer worked well.

“I’m good, thanks,” I politely said.

“Well it’s Sunday! Everyone’s great on a Sunday! You’ve probably seen me before, out playing violin on the street,” he said, squinting at me from behind his glasses. Before I answered, I turned to him. He was short, middle aged and had stringy, strawberry blond hair. I was scanning him to remember if I had seen him. I hadn’t been in Fort Myers very long, but, there was a chance.

“No, actually I haven’t,” I said with a tone of surprise. When he acted surprised, I didn’t feel like explaining that it was probably me, not him-  I only recently got here. I turned back to my computer and started to open the article I was working on.

“But I don’t play on Sundays!” he said, “Sundays are for rest!” I didn’t look back at him this time. I had just gotten to the café and didn’t really feel like talking.

He must have missed singing on a Sunday, because just a few seconds later he belted out, “Ayyyyyy, yaaaaayyyyy yaaaaaaaa……!!!” From my peripheral vision I could feel him staring at me, but I still ignored him. Was this going to be one of those times where if you don’t acknowledge someone they eventually go away?

I started to type a few words when I heard him speaking sarcastically below his breath, chin down as he rummaged through his backpack. “Oh sorry, you’re working, I hate when people keep interrupting me when I’m just on my computer…” I could barely make it out, even though he was just a few feet away. Then, he repeated the same phrase “Oh, sorry, you’re working…” again. I usually don’t mind engaging with strangers, but I could tell he was trying to taunt me.

“Yeah, I’m really trying to work,” I told him, barely looking.

“Well exactly, that’s what I just said, you’re on your computer! Don’t you listen?” he quipped back. Not responding, I kept my eyes on the computer screen in front of me, hoping the words would spill out of me and I could look deep in thought even though I was distracted by this man and thinking of ways to get him to stop bothering me.

I heard him chuckling softly, and then he talked under his breath too quietly for me to hear. He continued to do so for a few more second and then suddenly stopped when I turned to look at him. For the last few minutes I had tried to let him think that his presence meant nothing to me. Now, I stared directly into his eyes, hoping my uninviting glare would deter him.

When he started to talk to himself again, he wasn’t discreet about it. He raised his voice and looked directly at me, his squinted eyes and curled lip showing he was content with himself. “You’ve got big boobs –”

“I would prefer if you didn’t say those things,” I said, cutting him off. I wondered if it was time to ask management if he could leave.

“– and you’re a really pretty girl…” he kept talking as he picked up his backpack and carried it in one arm, slowly making his way to a table further away, diagonal from mine.

He continued to murmur about violins, and working on a Sunday, and girls, until the peppy café employee opened the door and bounced over to him, handing him his smoothie.

He grabbed his smoothie and hoisted his backpack over his hunched back.“You have a good day now,” he said slowly, taking his time as he walked towards the door.

“You too,” I told him, wondering if I meant it.

This post is part of weekly series titled Character Tuesday, where every Tuesday I bring you a story about (a) unique individual(s) I’ve encountered. Like I always say, life can be good or bad, but as long as it’s entertaining, that’s all you need. This series is meant to celebrate our quirks and idiosyncrasies.


Featured photo taken in Budapest, December 2014. 

Character Tuesday: A Phone Repair Man, A 1975 Date Stamp and A Lot Of Flirtation

Yasmine’s note: It’s been a long time since I’ve written my weekly post “Character Tuesday.” My three months at the mine filled me with so many personalities it was hard to keep track of, and even harder to imagine writing about them (but you can read overviews of them on the series Mine Camp Diaries). There was still one, a Filipino phone repairman, who stands out among the rest. Maybe it’s because I recently traveled to the Philippines, or maybe it’s because when I tried to escape the characters at the mine, I only found more back in Darwin. Against my will, Edward ended up being a fixture during those three months.

The first day I met him

People who live in Darwin say it has two seasons: hot and hotter. The first day I met Edward, it was still the hot season, but because I was so unused to being under the climatic fryer it felt much more intense than just ‘hot.’

I was temporarily living at Chili’s Backpackers, a hostel on Darwin’s main pub street, Mitchell Street. It was full of screaming, drunk British people and 18-year-old German girls who weren’t really sure what to do next in life. I was sitting in the open-air common room on the second floor when suddenly my phone went black. Nothing. Wouldn’t even turn on. I walked outside and a few feet away from Chili’s I saw a phone repair store.

I walked in and saw a short, scrawny Filipino man sitting at the desk. I explained to him my problem. He told me that my phone was still working, but the screen was broken. I noticed he was wearing camouflage army pants and a polo shirt as he spoke to me in perfect English, with only a hint of a Filipino accent.

He told me to sit down and started to test a few things to confirm that it was a broken screen. Other customers came in and out, and in between answering their questions he asked me some. When I told him I came from the U.S., he began to call me “Miss America,” a name that would carry through the remainder of our short working relationship. He stared at me while he looked at my phone, he was intrigued and very obviously enamored and didn’t stop at the small talk. He wanted to get straight to the core of who I was.

He started by asking me if I liked to go out, and motioned towards Monsoon’s, one of the most popular backpacker and military bars in town. Darwin has military bases for several countries, making it one of the most unbearable places to get drunk. You’re just trying to dance when an 18-year-old, 5’2” bald American tries to flirt with you by screaming into your eardrum over the pounding music. “Why don’t you find a German girl your own age,” I’m tempted to say.

Edward was still examining my phone when asked me if I liked movies. Asking someone if they like movies is a like asking if someone likes music, or if they like to eat. Of course. Even if someone isn’t a movie buff, they at least have a movie from their childhood that brings them good memories, or if they’re from the U.S. have probably watched movies socially.

“I like superman,” he said, “I can be your superman.” I laughed, unsure of what other kind of reaction a statement like that warrants. I could have said “thank you,” but that’s a bit too acknowledging of what he had to say.

“Give me a half hour and I’ll fix it, Miss America,” he said. “It’ll be $130 but if you decide now I’ll give you a discount.”

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“Everything is very expensive.” That’s how I feel about Edward’s phone repair prices. Photo taken in Spain in April 2015. 

“Okay, thanks,” I said, “I’ll be back in a bit.”

In his closing line before I walked out, he referred to himself again as “superman” and made some sort of comment that communicated he was my superman and could do anything for me. Thank you, because I needed one.

When I came back a half hour later, I was halfway nervous he had looked through all my photos. There wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, but it’s just weird. It’s like knowing someone robbed your house when you were asleep. I would know how creepy that is, because it’s happened to me.

If when I dropped off my phone Edward was hinting at romantic interest, when I picked it up, he was showing complete honesty.

“Let’s go see a movie together,” he said, “We both love movies.” Even though it still pains me to turn people down (I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings), I’ve had enough feminist education to know that dancing around the subject and saying “maybe” isn’t benefitting anyone.

“No, I don’t think I’m interested in that, but thank you,” I replied. That’s about as honest as I could muster.

He didn’t stop there, though, he tried a few different times and in a few different ways; Asking for my phone number, asking if I wanted to get drunk. As I was walking out, I said,“You know, Edward, I think I’d like to keep this a professional relationship.” And I politely smiled, waved, and left, noting to never return to that phone store again.

Round two

After the first time I met Edward, I didn’t think I’d ever see him again. Nor did I care to. I don’t like people that put you in positions where you are on edge but feel like you have to be nice.

But two weeks after, right after I came back from the mine, I was at Chili’s when my screen wasn’t working well. I can’t remember exactly what it was doing, but the color was off, it was blurry and I was mad I paid $120 (with the discount) for a broken screen.

I didn’t want to go back to Edward, but I had a warranty there. After all, he had told me he was my superman and anything I needed he would do. So I rolled my eyes and walked across the street to the phone repair store.

When I walked in, his face lit up. He was helping two European backpackers with a new phone case, and suddenly very aware of my presence. He suddenly looked frazzled. His movements became more jerky and his eyes were spinning every which way.

Maybe he thought I was finally interested. Maybe he thought I missed him. I could see his wonder growing by the minute as I stood near him, waiting for him to finish explaining the phone cases to them. The feeling of having people be affected by your presence is both an uncomfortable and ego-boosting feeling. Even though I only wanted to get my phone fixed and spend the rest of my day doing other things, like writing or researching, I couldn’t help but enjoy the sense of power his nervousness gave me.

He looked up at me: “Miss America,” he said. He looked back at the two girls he was helping. One of the girls said in a thick German accent,“But this is $40 and there’s no screen protector.”

He looked at her, and he looked at me, and he hesitated. Suddenly he barked, “Fine! I’ll give it to you for $30!” And he threw it down and grabbed the credit card machine.

Turning his attention to me, we began to go through same conversation as we always had. He asked me hopeful questions, wondering what I was up to and why had it been so long since I’d seen him. Changing the subject, I told him the problem and he told me to again come back in a half hour.

After I came back, he asked me out again, an invitation which I rejected, this time a bit more forceful than the previous. I walked out, but only a few feet out of the door I realized my phone said “August 27, 1975.” I grunted out loud and cursed Edward. He must have done this on purpose to lure me into his closet-sized, dodgy phone repair shop!

“Edward, what IS this!” I screamed as I walked through the door, “Why does it say it’s 1975!” He suggested I update my phone, log onto the WiFi, or change it myself manually. I challenged him, wondering why suddenly, after I visited him, that it just now changed. He tried to work on it. A few minutes later, he said he fixed it.

I walked out and read the time stamp “September 2025.” “UGH!” I screamed again, this time too frustrated to even try. I let it be, and now I  still have photos that say they were taken in 2025.

The Last and Final Time

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“The end has arrived.” Graffiti in Leon, Spain. Taken while walking the Camino de Santiago, June 2015. 

Three weeks after my phone decided it was 2025, it went black again. I was thoroughly dreading seeing him again. I surely could have gone to another phone repair shop, but I didn’t want to spend more money than necessary. I had already spent so much with Edward, and besides, I was trying to save  for my upcoming travels to the U.S. and Argentina.

When I walked towards Edward’s shop, I had a growing frustration radiating through my body. I was angry; angry that I felt like I had to be nice to this man who continually asked me out despite my rejections. I was angry that men are taught they have to be the saviors; that based on Hollywood movies, women really don’t know what they want – it just takes a bit of convincing and they’ll be yours. I was angry that Edward was nerdy and clueless, because he probably hadn’t had much luck with ladies before. The fact that he was so hopeful after  my standard politeness show his inexperience. I felt sorry for him. And worse that I was annoyed at him. Is it his fault that’s he’s a product of society?

I wasn’t just angry, but I was also dehydrated. I was tired. I had just gotten off of night shift and I was not in the mood. I didn’t have the physical or mental strength to handle the demands he required.

I walked in without a smile. I sat down and waited my turn.

“My phone’s broken again, Edward,” I said, quiet and direct.

“What’s wrong with you?” he said, “You look sad.”

I should have told him the truth right then. I should have told him that I wasn’t sad, I was just angry I had to be at his shop again and wondered why he persisted so much despite my best attempts to reject him.

I pride myself on being patient, but I had no patience for this man. Finally, after a few minutes, he sensed it. He didn’t smile. He didn’t call himself superman and he didn’t call me Miss America. I took my fixed phone and I walked out.

The next day, I left Darwin forever.


Featured photo: A graffiti seen near Burgos, Spain, on the Camino de Santiago. Seen in June 2016.

This post is part of weekly series titled Character Tuesday, where every Tuesday I bring you a story about (a) unique individual(s) I’ve encountered. Like I always say, life can be good or bad, but as long as it’s entertaining, that’s all you need. This series is meant to celebrate our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Hey, It’s 2017!

IT’S ONLY JANUARY 23 AND I ALREADY FOUND MY WORST PHOTO OF THE  YEAR!

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It’s all natural. 

….I also think I found my best selfie of the year so far.

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Who, me? Hottie?

Anyways….

It’s never too late to wish someone well.

That’s why, even though it’s almost February, I’m wishing you a Happy 2017. If the collective mood is any indication, we need a lot of positive energy. So here’s my contribution.

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A man walks past a closed kiosco and an empty Fernet Branca on the streets of Buenos Aires. Taken this November. 

2016 was the first full year Naptime With Yasmine was in operation (I began the blog in March 2015). In 2016, I traveled to San Diego, Dubai, New Zealand (South Island), Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima), Buenos Aires, Guangzhou and the Philippines.

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I’m still using that tote I bought in Barcelona. 

I spent ten months living in Australia, where I wrote many Character Tuesday posts on great personalities in that country-continent, several Photo Friday posts, and a new series “Mine Camp Diaries” during the three months I worked on a mine in Northern Territory. I gave advice (here and on other websites) on how to best try to insert yourself into all that Melbourne has to offer (Examples: feminism, personal and professional development).

I failed to complete my resolution of Photo Challenge of the Month, but it was fun while it lasted. I did a big road trip up the east coast of Australia and through the outback (plans in 2017 to discuss those), where I got to see some cool people and camped in front of Uluru. Unforgettable.

My biggest question of 2016 is: Who ended up using my DIY project idea?

What’s on for 2017, you ask? BIG PLANS, that’s what.

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What could be bigger than mate? I’m proud of this photo I took last November of Buenos Aires. 

I have plans to continue to give advice on Australia based on my personal experience on a working holiday visa. I’d like to share more travel stories on the places mentioned above and more photography. People, places and situations are noteworthy and hilarious, no matter what the year. At least we can be grateful for that.

I will continue the series Character Tuesday and Photo Friday, and there’s a new addition that I just posted today: the “What I did in…” series, which aims to tell you exactly what I did in a given location. No fuss, just straight up what I did and what I thought about it.

Thank you, as always, for being a great reader. I hope you find my content helpful, as that is the main goal. What’s the point of living through a situation if you can’t offer others advice based on your experience?

Have a meaningful, and most importantly, entertaining, day,

Allison

P.S. This may have been a new year, but the highest traffic to my blog in 2016 remained these posts that appear when people search for porn: Being a hairy woman, going topless in Ibiza, and being a ‘sex-positive’ au pair. I’m not complaining.

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I couldn’t help myself.

Featured photo: Taken from this Photo Friday post about a weekend in Sydney. I thought it was appropriate, as that is how most people feel about 2016.