When I can’t escape

Felix exclaimed:

“Hi May, where are Luke and mom?”

My heart skipped a beat. The mom and her 10 year old child slowly dragged their bikes towards us with a frustrating look. The chain is falling out and the derailleur is broken in half, with the second half lying nowhere to be found

chain falling out

“I have searched for it everywhere. I didn’t see it”

I was panicked. Since the beginning I have acted the role of a poised, know-it-all guide very well whom won their affection and trust. Can I say something funny to twist their perspective of this shit – that I don’t know how to fix a broken derailleur?

The normally romantic rubber plantations are at their worst time of the year: rainy season when tree branches fall off, creating a messy backdrop.

From all corners mosquitoes are screaming, waiting to eat us alive. Two little boys, 10-year-old Luke and 7–year-old Felix are losing their cheerful face. I called numerous people for a few minutes when Felix started his rambling

Why does it take so long? Uh huh, ahhh, mosquitoes


Their mom says nothing.

Deep down I know they have all the rights to complain. I am delivering a service and this should not happen. In this case, they need a problem solver and not an entertainer as usual. I happen to be in a situation when I don’t have what it takes to solve and people who can solve are out of reach.

When you are expected to be a problem solver

Normally, I am an escaper. I just do things I like and meet people I care about. If there is any hint of mess or discomfort, I just say NO.

No. You deal with it. That is not my shit.

No, I will not meet you (because I have no interest at all)

No, I will not meet you (because I have so much interest that I am scared of rejection)

But there are cases when I have no choice but standing in front lines. Being a tour guide is one of that. I talk obvious things in different ways to entertain people and when bad surprises happen, I am expected to be a problem solver.

Problems expose our vulnerability


If things go right, I will just make fun with Luke & Felix, listen to them eagerly sharing about their life in Singapore, act like I am so interested and then look at their satisfying mom’s face, happy that somebody is caring about her kids.

If things go right, I will just be poised, comfortable and in control. The mess kicked me out of that driver’s seat and just in seconds I became passive and frustrated. I felt so vulnerable, and somehow I feel that is a good sign. It shows me what I know I lack and force me to face it, find a way to deal with it, seeking help from others and grow from them.

If we feel stupid and vulnerable, that is a good sign. If we always feel confident, we are in the wrong environment.

One thought on “When I can’t escape

  1. wondering why we are condemned to perpetually fight our natural inclination for familiarity and comfort? Why the force of evolution didn’t programme our brain to seek for a nominal amount of stress as it seems to be such a perfect catalyst in learning.


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