Monday, July 21, 2008

I Hate American "Policies" and May Be Ready to Skeedaddle

Begin rant: Americans and their stupid "policies."

I took my kids to this new waterpark by my parents' house. I was so excited to show them, as we discovered together the zero-depth wade-in pool that is 18" max, with slides, fountains, and generally a fun time.

A few days ago, I brought them to another kiddie pool, and felt bad because I didn't bring my own Islamic swimsuit (I wanted to test the environment first), but then when S. - my 14 mo. old - wanted SO BADLY to go in and I couldn't, we had to go (this was after about an hour, when she finally realized that she would like to go in there).

So today, I went to this new little waterpark fully prepared, wearing my Islamic swimsuit. I was pretty nervous about how people would react, but I took a deep breathe and walked in the play area.

First thing that happens when I'm just standing with S. in the less-than-ankle-deep water is, the lifeguard approaches me and says, "I'm sorry but we have a new policy. There's no clothes in the pool."

"This is swimsuit material."

"Well, even so - it's our new policy. Because the pool has drains that could suck your clothes. Could you just roll up your pants a little bit?"

I'm thinking, okay, she doesn't get it. But I say okay, and I just tie the pants in a knot at the ankle - not rolling them up, but they're not loose at the ankle, then.

I felt really anxious after that, but she left me alone. So then I eased myself into playing with my kids, all the while slightly on edge but trying to relax as I kept the lifeguards in my peripheral vision to see if they had any more problems with me.

After about 2 hours, when I felt more comfortable, the manager comes up to me.

"I'm sorry," she says, and she looks embarrassed and apologetic. "We have this new policy...we can't allow any clothing in the pool at all."

"Even if it's swimsuit material?"

"No....I don't know if you've been watching the news-" [I have - about the fluke accident with the 6 yr. old girl] "-but there's these drains. Your clothes could get sucked by them, with all that......material."

I stare at her.

She continues, "Don't you have anything else you can wear?"

"No."

"Not even like, some shorts, or a little tank top?"

I look at her, completely amazed. Does she really not get why I'm dressed like this???

"Nope."

"Well...." she was getting uncomfortable now, but - not as uncomfortable as me. Still I gave her an out.

I said, "Well, if it's policy, I understand."

"Okay!" she said, immediately perking up, glad to be able to get out of there, out of this terrible, awkward conversation. "Thank you! I'm sorry!"


Yep.


I was so mad/embarrassed, I just got the kids together and left. I thought about approaching her, and asking her nicely, because I was genuinely confused about why she thought I was dressed like this, "You know I'm wearing this for religious reasons, right?"

But I didn't. I didn't want to face more awkwardness, plus I was too mad - at America. I was getting shaky again.

***

Did you see the news story, with the 6 year old girl? Weird thing happened - what are the odds of this? A 6 yr old girl sat on a drain for an hour in a kiddie pool, and it sucked out her intestines. She went to the hospital, and died a few weeks later from complications due to the injury.

Tragic. But. In how many ways does that NOT apply to me and my situation? At least 5.


1. I am not 6. I am an adult.
2. I was not sitting on a drain.
3. The drain accident did not involve clothing.
4. The likelihood of my clothes getting sucked by these small yet clearly visible drains near the perimeter of the pool is microscopic.
5. Even if my clothes got sucked by the drain, how likely is it that this would injure me?

Having a pool AT ALL is a risk! So if they're looking to avoid all possible risks to innocent civilians, why have a pool at all????

The manager also told me, "We can't allow some people to wear clothes, and not others. It wouldn't be fair."

How lame is that argument? Just WHY can't they allow some people to do some things, and not others? Where does it say that in the Life Instruction Manual?

Fairness is NOT treating everyone exactly the same. It's giving different individuals what they need.

I am wearing these clothes FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS. Didn't they just break some other policy about freedom to practice religion?

Why don't they just put a sign on the front door that says, "Muslims Not Allowed?"

This "policy" business has p'od me off since even before I was muslim. It's blanket statements, blanket thinking that is lazy. Changing, adapting to unique circumstances would require too much thinking, too much interacting. Too much room for disagreement - which is what they are trying to avoid. "They" are incommunicado about "issues" in life. They put a period at the end of their Rules, so that there is no further discussion.

What this does is complicate life, instead of simplifying it. I have always thought so. It's not allowing people to just LIVE, free, and make their own judgements.

The business of "policies" has fostered a culture that is highly judgemental of others (oooh, spooky others), highly critical of anyone who IS different, anyone who DOESN'T follow lock-step into line and follow The Rules without blinking once or thinking twice.

***

Then. On the way home, I was at a stoplight when a giant pickup truck with 2 men pulled up next to me. We both had our windows rolled down, and my sunglasses were on.

"Hey!" yelled one man to the other. "Is that one of those s..o...ma...li..es?"

I whipped my head in their direction, whipped off my sunglasses, and looked them square in the eye.

"Whoa!" they exclaimed to each other. "....Hey! Are you one of those somali religions?"

"A MUSLIM?" I ask, impatiently. (I was in a bad mood by now.)

"Whoa!!!! You a muslim???" says one. The other says, "Whoaa!!!! You REALLY went deep, huh? Being a muslim?"

I shrug, completely bewildered by what THAT'S supposed to mean. The light changes, and I put the pedal down.

***

Things like this.

I feel sick of America, lately.

As much as I love my parents, and the green trees and green grass and general appreciation and awareness of a clean environment, I'm thinking, wouldn't it just make life a lot easier for us if we lived in a muslim country????

I am sick of sticking out like a sore thumb every where I go. Of ALWAYS being the odd one.

I'm sick of every time I turn on what should be an innocently educational show for my kid, he's bombarded with stuff about birthdays and other philosophical things/attitudes I don't support.

Of course I know I will still stand out in a muslim country, not being from there, originally. But it's in a GOOD WAY. When people see me over there, they do a double-take and they're like, "What? You're a muslim?" and then, "MASHAALLAH!" - they're HAPPY about it!

Whereas here, people are like, "Uh-oh." LOLOLOLOLOL


*sigh!*

WALHAMDULILEH FOR EVERYTHING!

My last line there made me smile, anyway!