If you’ve read My Love Affair with Dunkin Donuts’ Bathroom, you know that I spent some time without running water during the renovation of my house.
It was during this period where I spent some extra time at a Dunkin’ Donuts, getting coffee, donuts, sandwiches, using the bathroom, washing my face, brushing my teeth, etc. I continued to go to Dunkin’ twice a day even after I got a working bathroom because I still didn’t have a kitchen, Bathroom or Kitchen Sink, Who Can Tell?, and anyway, it became part of my routine to go there, still is.
During my frequent Dunkin’ visits I was befriended by a Pakistani worker there, I’ll call her Sajida. True to being the stereotypical “Ugly American” I never felt like I properly pronounced her name, though I loved the way she said mine.
Sajida was there every night when I went in for the evening visit. She was very sweet. As soon as she saw my car drive up she fixed my coffee just the way I like it and filled a bag with free donuts. It was usually pretty empty at night, which allowed us to chat. Her English wasn’t very good; still, she asked me a lot of questions about myself and when I didn’t understand she made hand gestures to help me out. She met all of my children and asked if I had a husband. I told her “not anymore.” She told me I should get a new man. She always had a smile for me and usually a compliment, wondering how I stayed so skinny after having all the kids. See Confessions of a Skinny Mom. Still, she noticed when I looked particularly tired (it was a rough time) and would ask if I was “okay.”
“You tired? You look tired.” She’d say sometimes.
Other times she’d talk about herself, saying, “I’m so fat. I want to be skinny like you.” She wasn’t “fat,” by the way, she was shapely, and healthy looking. She was quite pretty.
I learned that she was 28-years-old and had two children back home in Pakistan who were living with her mother. She sent money to them. She lived here alone in a little apartment which she said she enjoyed because it was so clean and quiet, not like back home. She said she had been married to her first cousin, who wasn’t nice to her. “It wasn’t good,” she said, solemnly. Her children were both disabled, with birth defects, one was blind and I’m not sure what the other child’s challenges were, but she said they both needed medical attention. I couldn’t help but wonder whether being so closely related to her husband could have been the cause.
One day after getting my coffee I turned to leave and Sajida called me back. My children were not with me.
The men in the store were working in the back and largely ignored us.
She told me, “I’m pregnant.”
“Oh,” I said. I didn’t know what else to say. She hadn’t made this announcement as happy news.
She said, “I need help. I need pill.”
“Pill?” I thought it was a little late for birth control, but maybe I had misunderstood . . .
“Pill, I don’t want to be pregnant. Where can I get pill. Will you help me? Will you buy Pill for me?”
“Oh,” I said, again. Now I understood.
I haven’t had to think about pregnancy in years. My tubes have been tied since I last gave birth. “The Abortion Pill” or “The Morning After Pill” were not around in my unmarried youth. The only pills I had experience with were birth control pills. Still, my limited knowledge about these other pills was that they were something taken immediately after unprotected sex and/or at the very least, there is a small window of opportunity where such “pills” could prevent pregnancy or the continuation of a pregnancy.
I pondered what to say. There was a language barrier. I didn’t want to be responsible for or influence her decision, I didn’t want to misunderstand her intent.
I just wanted coffee . . . and some small talk. Truth is, I looked forward to seeing her every day. Though I didn’t really know and sometimes couldn’t understand her, I thought of Sajida as my friend. It was during a time where I had little interaction with other adults. My family refused to come to my home, as our living conditions were so bad. The friends and former neighbors — “angels” — who had helped me initially, had finished the first round of work, and I was waiting for the professionals to take over while I organized and cleaned. The children were tiring of the conditions, and I had to pretend that everything was okay. But Sajida smiled when she saw me. I needed that, truly.
Still, as I stood at the Dunkin’ Donuts counter, I wasn’t prepared for this.
Sajida added, “I asked another lady but she wouldn’t help me.”
That almost broke my heart. The thought of this sweet woman asking random Dunkin’ Donuts customers for help with an unwanted pregnancy — and that she had been refused?
Shit, I thought. I don’t want to be that lady, the kind of woman who would refuse to help another woman in trouble, someone reaching out for assistance.
“No one will help me,” Sajida continued, gesturing to her co-workers, also Pakistani, but male. “I don’t want to go to my people. I can’t have another baby. My children are too much. I’m afraid there will be something wrong.”
Here she was in a strange country, her challenged children far away, and pregnant when she didn’t want to be.
I decided I would help her.
At the very least I could get her to a doctor so she can know all of her options. Maybe she’s not even pregnant, I hoped; Maybe she’s too far along, I feared. I mean I didn’t know any of the details for sure.
I asked her, “Are you sure you’re pregnant?”
She said, “Yes,” explained that missed her period, and made the throwing up gesture. “Just like before I’m sick like before. Will you help? I have money. I can pay you,” she added.
Pay me? “No, don’t worry about that. Let’s get you to a doctor,” I said.
My mind was reeling. What if she’d asked someone who would have actually taken her money? And throwing up? God, I thought, how far along is she? No pill is going to help her now.
“Okay,” I said, “Just let me get some information. Please don’t take anything. I don’t think you can do that now. Just wait, okay?”
I left in disbelief, muttering to myself. Why, I thought, why do people feel comfortable telling me such private things? I couldn’t believe that I’d gone for coffee and was presented with a request for assistance in ending an unwanted pregnancy. But I guess I hadn’t just gone for coffee, I’d gone for company.
And I thought I had problems. I was broke, my house I shared with five children was barely livable and I was going through a nasty divorce. But at least I wasn’t pregnant.
This much I understood: It was clear that Sajida was not going to have this baby. The only question was how she was going to end her pregnancy and whether she would do it safely.
I’d told her I’d come back tomorrow. That night I called my best friend, who happens to be a gynecologist, and explained the situation. She confirmed what I already knew, that this woman needs to see a doctor immediately and will likely have to have an abortion to end the pregnancy, if that’s her intent. The next day I called Planned Parenthood and found out where she could go to see a doctor, confirm the pregnancy and talk about options, whether they might have a translator, and how that whole waiting period thing works.
It had been years, but I am no stranger to Planned Parenthood. I’d gone to Planned Parenthood to get on the pill before I lost my virginity. When I couldn’t go to my parents, Planned Parenthood was there. I had continued to use Planned Parenthood until well after I was married — until I eventually got my own private insurance. I felt comfortable sending Sajida there. I would have sent her there for affordable prenatal care if she’d planned on having the baby.
The next day I went to Dunkin’ Donuts and gave Sajida a telephone number and address, explained where she should go, and when, and that after she was seen by a doctor she would have to go back another day for the procedure. She was familiar with the location and said she could get there easily. She planned to take a bus to the clinic on her next available day off at the end of the week.
She thanked me profusely.
In the next couple of days I saw her again. She looked horrible, said she wasn’t feeling well and was still throwing up. She wasn’t as chatty as she had been on previous visits.
Days passed. The next time I saw her, I simply asked, “How are you?”
“Good,” she said, “Not pregnant. There was blood. ” She gestured to her lower regions, “There was blood, a lot of blood. I’m not pregnant anymore.”
“Oh, you miscarried? You — you — lost the baby?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
“And you don’t have to — do anything? “
“No, not pregnant anymore. I woke up, there was blood.” She seemed relieved.
“Still,” I said, “You should go to the doctor anyway, because you have to make sure you’re okay. Sometimes they have to — do stuff after you lose a baby. And you should go on the pill or get some birth control.”
Though the abortion talk had made me uncomfortable, I have no problem whatsoever telling a woman to get some birth control.
“Yes, yes,” she promised.
“Okay, you’re okay?” I asked.
I was relieved, for a lot of reasons.
We didn’t talk about it again. She did ask me for assistance later, this time in programming her cell phone. I was happy to help with that.
Over the months that followed Sajida’s English improved greatly. Almost a year later Sajida told me she was engaged and would be traveling back to Pakistan to marry. I must have looked shocked because she quickly explained, “No, it’s good. He’s nice.”
She added, “Someday you’ll meet someone, too.” She’d always encouraged me to date, one of the few who did.
I never saw her again. I think of her often, though.
Just the other day as I was leaving Dunkin’ Donuts, a very cute young Indian man who had waited on me called me back to ask me a question.
I was a little afraid.
Turns out he just wanted to know how much I pay for medical insurance since Dunkin’ Donuts does not provide it, even for full-time workers. For most people it may have seemed like an overly personal question. For me? Well, I was just relieved it was a question with an easy answer.
Just Me With . . . coffee, donuts and some information.
I’m a sensitive sort. I’ve delayed writing and publishing this post for fear of the criticism for assisting a woman who wished to terminate her pregnancy. Some might argue that I should have tried to talk her out of it, that I should have pointed her to an organization that would have tried to talk her out of it, or that I should have simply refused, like the “other lady” had. But the bottom line was, she was an adult woman in a strange country, already a mother of special needs children and her decision had been made — without me. She merely asked for my help.
Was I relieved that nature took its course? Yes, yes, I was, I admit that. But if it hadn’t, at least Sajida would have received medical care and not simply paid a customer to provide her with random medications to end her pregnancy — and/or perhaps injure herself in the process.
Where ever Sajida is I hope she’s found happiness and that her new husband is nice to her.
I am not a Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child historian by any means. But there are some things about Beyoncé’s personal and professional life that I truly admire. Because of this, I tend to place her in a different category than other celebrity wedding and baby news.
Beyoncé has been performing since she was a teenager, until recently managed by her father. It was the family business. And it did quite well. A few years ago, she married a hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, a wildly successful musician, performer, producer and business man. A couple seemingly made for the tabloids, yet they married not in the Kardashian circus manner, but privately. The public was not given daily updates on gowns, expenditures, wedding or reception plans. She got married, is all. And though the couple collaborates from time to time, her celebrity is based on her work, not on her family or her husband’s name. And Jay – Z’s past or continued success does not rely on hers.
Once married, Beyoncé rarely spoke of her wedding, or the details of her marriage. Sometimes she’d appear with her husband, sometimes not. But make no mistake, they have been and are a power couple. He continued working, she continued working their sometimes separate, sometimes combined hit-making machine. Being a wife did not consume nor define her public persona. Though married, she was still Beyoncé. And there were no Kardashian announcements after the wedding, “Now I’m ready for babies.” There were often rumors of babies on the way for Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but not from Beyoncé herself. No, there was no announcement of babies, until there was a baby to announce. I like that.
Then it came, the announcement of a baby. After having been married for years, and on the eve of her 30th birthday, Beyoncé proudly revealed her pregnancy at a major awards show. Yeah, she got major press out of it and that can’t hurt, but because we hadn’t heard of all the baby making efforts and plans, it didn’t seem like the baby was a publicity stunt. I like that, too.
But what does this mean?
Why should it mean anything? It means the same thing it means for all of us, she’s pregnant and God-willing, she’ll have a healthy baby. Duh.
Oh there are the practical considerations. Beyoncé fans and commentators wonder whether she’ll take a year off from her yearly touring schedule. If she does, she deserves the break, if you’ve ever seen one of her concerts or concert DVD’s you know she is one of the hardest working stage performers out there. But if she does take a break, she’ll be okay. (Her fans might die, but she’ll be okay). She maintains at least partial songwriting credits on her hits, so she will continue to receive passive income from commercial use of her material. This means that whether it’s a high school marching band playing Survivor, background music in a television show or movie, or some American Idol hopeful covering Irreplaceable, she’ll get paid — forever. All this in addition to all of the products to which she’s lent her name and likeness, well . . . she’ll be okay. Go ahead and take some time off girl, if you want. In other words, her income is not solely based on the next hit record, her next big tour, or most importantly, the size of her waist. If she doesn’t take a break and launches a tour next year, she’ll have the means to have any type of support she wants, including the kind which will allow her to work and still be with her child. But either way, I doubt we’ll be inundated with daily reports of morning sickness, stories of childbirth, recounts of her weight gain and loss, or the dreaded reality TV show. Her Momma taught her better than that. (Get the Survivor reference? No? Yes?) Oh, and no offense, Tia and Tamera, a cute show, but kinda hard to take you all seriously as Independent Women after that.
Regardless of whether you are a fan of her music, the way Beyoncé has handled her personal life is something to admire — and to teach our daughters and sons. A wedding is for the bride, groom, family and friends to celebrate in a large or small way. But the wedding itself, even a huge wedding, does not have to be an accomplishment to be paraded in the news. Likewise, bringing a child into the world is an important, private, natural decision. Thank you, Beyoncé, for not announcing every fertility attempt and for not acquiring babies seemingly for use as accessories to keep your name in the news. And I know this is old-fashioned, but thank you Beyoncé, for getting married in the first place. If we want our daughters to expect a man “to put a ring on it” before they give him a child and expect his support, well, they should look to Beyoncé. Yeah, she’s half-naked most of the time, but she’s got the pipes to back it up and the business sense to carry her through, plus she’s got a husband to share in bringing a child into this scary world. Plus, she’s pulled off independent success despite being the wife of a mogul in the male dominated hip-hop world, and because of that I have every reason to believe she will pull off her continued success all while making her pregnancy and motherhood a natural course of life, not a sideshow act, not a publicity stunt, not a death knell to her career or to her public appeal.
Just Me With . . . hopes of getting invited to the baby shower, and I’m available to babysit . . . or play in your band or whatever you need Beyoncé . . . ha!
I used to teach seminars relating to discrimination in the workplace, specifically, sexual harassment. You know, those annoying people brought in to identify improper workplace behavior and talk about how to respond, etc.
Well, one fine Spring I was sent to a company to teach a series of these seminars. I stood, mostly, in front of a class for three hours at a pop. What was different about this time was that I was pregnant — with twins. You know how women “show” more quickly with the second pregnancy? Well, with twins it’s even faster. However, I hadn’t told anyone at my job that I was pregnant — again. One pregnancy was tolerated in my white shoe law firm, but two? Oh no.
So I was trying to do the “pregnant professional woman hide your pregnancy” thing as long as possible. I was about four months along, looked bigger, but mostly in the belly, hips and thighs. There was one skirt suit I could still wear if I didn’t button it. It was the kind with a longish jacket that required no blouse and a matching skirt just above the knees. Professional, but not stuffy. But, because of the pregnancy, it was tight. Yeah, that skirt was screaming.
And I was tired. I had a two hour commute to the location of this particular seminar and I was pregnant and bloated and uncomfortable in my non-maternity clothes. Plus, I couldn’t even complain to anybody because it was my big secret.
At the seminar I talked incessantly about the hostile work environment kind of sexual harassment where it’s not that someone is saying have sex with me to keep your job, but where the environment is sexually charged and makes an employee uncomfortable because of his/her gender. You know, unwanted touching, dirty jokes, leering, flashing, and I talked about how dressing provocatively could make co-workers uncomfortable. I noted that sometimes bad behavior is not legally actionable harassment but there simply needs to be a conversation. Often the offending party doesn’t even know he or she has made someone uncomfortable, I explained. These required seminars can be a pain, but the important thing employees are supposed to get out of them is that they understand the law a bit, along with the corporate policies, and most importantly, they know what to do if there is a — situation.
The seminars went well, people stayed awake and were engaged. I felt like crap, though. and was so, so very tired. Any chance I got during the program, I would perch on a desk.
After the seminar, a woman came up to me to ask a question, or so I thought. She really wanted to inform me that while I was up front discussing inappropriate behavior, and how people act and dress in ways at work that make others uncomfortable,
. . . the whole class could see up my too tight skirt.
I played it off and said that this is exactly what I was talking about. My “reveal” was accidental and I, of course, did not mean to make anyone uncomfortable. I thanked her for coming forward and offered my apologies if I offended her. (By her demeanor, I clearly had offended her.) She said that she thought I’d want to know since I was talking about all “that stuff.”
Epilogue: Told work about my pregnancy when I got back. Switched to maternity clothes immediately.
Just Me With . . . an unintentional crotch shot and the ability to laugh at myself.
Weddings. Ahh weddings. It’s that time of year. Starting off with a bang this year with the Royals William and Kate, but for regular folk some people will be getting invitations to sibling’s, cousin’s, aunt’s and uncle’s, best friend’s and acquaintance’s. Me? I haven’t attended a wedding since my marriage ended. And actually, I’m kind of in between life stages for weddings, anyway. My friends are either already married or simply not going to do that (or if they do, it’ll be somewhere in Vegas). For the most part, second marriages are not in full swing yet. The younger members of my family aren’t old enough or ready. Despite my marrying young, the rest of my family and close friends don’t generally do that. We’re slow that way. So, I’m probably off the hook this year.
Still, I’ve been invited to a few weddings over the years, but I politely decline.
At first I thought it would make me too sad to watch a marriage ceremony when mine didn’t take, but really I’m afraid I’d be one of those drunken hecklers you usually find at comedy clubs.
Officiator: “Do you promise to Love, Honor, and Cherish . . . .?”
Me: Yeah, they say that NOW . . . Everybody SAYS that . . .
Officiator: “Forsaking all others . . .”
Me: HA!!!! Until a juicy young piece of a** asks for a ride home after work . . . Forsaking all others . . . for a while . . .
Yeah, perhaps I am right to politely decline live attendance at weddings.
Still, I struggled with my last decline. A very good friend of mine, who had been my bridesmaid and I, hers, at her first wedding, was remarrying. She was and is deliriously happy. Her first husband turned out to be a complete schmuck. I’d known him from college too, actually longer than I’d known her. I did not expect his bad behavior. Neither did she. He cheated on her. Got some other woman pregnant — twice. First, abortion. Second, well she was six months pregnant when he finally had to come clean. He first complained of depression and suicidal thoughts (to soften her up, I think), then hit her with, oh and by the by, I have a girlfriend and she’s pregnant and having the baby (unlike the first pregnancy) — WHAAAAT?!!!!!!!!. Despite this, my friend tried to save her marriage, something I couldn’t fully comprehend at the time, but I understand now. She got him into counseling, on antidepressants, and did not kick him out. They tried to work out a plan for this child, who was coming, no matter what.
It didn’t work; he left their marital bed to go to this woman’s hospital bedside and watch their child’s birth, giving the baby the same name he and my friend had discussed if they ever had a child. Cruel. You see, the schmuck didn’t want children at all when he and my friend first married but then softened and consented to one, just one. Sadly, my friend could not get pregnant. So his impregnating another woman and giving that baby the name they had decided on . . . well that’s whip worthy.
I remember talking to her over the phone — while her husband was at the hospital shortly after the baby was born. It was unspeakable. That is a pain no one should have to endure. There’s a special place . . . for that man. After the baby was born, he never really came back home, except to change clothes. A couple of days later as she worked from home and thought he was at work — and he thought she was out — he came by and left a note, saying his place was with the baby and the baby’s mother. After 12 years of marriage, she got a break up note. (She found out later it was all preplanned as he had already applied for and was given “parental” leave from work. Ugh.)
My friend talked her way through this with her girlfriends; all we could do was listen. (A favor she returned to me later).
But, my friend met another man, by chance, at an event. He, too, was suffering from the effects of a cheating and also spiteful spouse. They clicked immediately. They fell in love. Some of us girlfriends (original bridesmaids) were worried that it was too soon, that it was a rebound situation, that this guy was also hurting too much – that it was like meeting someone in rehab — you have a lot in common, but is it really a basis for a positive new start? My friend explained, “You know, bad things happen all the time, suddenly — car wrecks, cancer, hurricanes, and we accept that and adjust. Why can’t we accept it when good things happen, suddenly, seemingly ill-timed?” Okay, she’s a genius. And she is a brilliant, talented, quite no-nonsense, kind of woman with a dry sense of humor. She’s not even religious, so it’s not a “God sent him to me” type of thing. They just found each other. After dating for a couple of years, last year, they married at the beach. You see, except for the horrible ordeal with the schmuck, good things tend to happen to this woman. She even sold her old house in this horrible market in a matter of weeks.
She’d found her true love. She won’t have children, and his are almost grown, but they have each other and have been happy, really happy.
I did not attend her wedding. It was a semi-destination wedding small affair and although she would have been thrilled if I’d come, she kind of expected I wouldn’t make it, and was really cool about it. I was in a bad way and couldn’t handle long drives, plus I wasn’t sure what I would do with my kids. Plus, it’s not really good for me to be around for these things. I might have cried — too much. I was in her first wedding, and she in mine and neither one ended well — I dunno – – was I being superstitious? It certainly wasn’t jealousy. I have never been happier for anyone getting married. She deserves happiness, just because she’s cool, let alone all the crap that schmuck put her through. I definitely would not have heckled her.
Sometimes, it’s okay to stay away. I have her back, though, and she mine. We both know that. I may attend William and Kate’s special day, though. And I’ll call/text/email my friend to see what she thinks of it . She loves royal weddings. After all it is thousands of miles away and on television and on delay (I’m not getting up at 4:00am) and I don’t actually know William and Kate. So I think it’s pretty safe for me to be in TV attendance.
I haven’t lost all capacity for romance, damn it.
Just Me With . . . a remote control and well wishes to all the brides . . . from afar.
I did go to a wedding, eventually. See “I Went To A Wedding Alone”