Sunday, December 07, 2008

With The Talker

Mr. Pabi brought me and my books home from work on Saturday in his brand new Kia SUV – which seemed to be his pride and joy. I had two five foot stacks of annotated library books in my locker at work which never ceased to produce exclamations and incredulity at their sight by my co-workers. Mr. Pabi seems to be one of them most easily impressed. A recent citizen of the United States, Mr. Pabi lately of Ghana never ceases to smile and say Wow! when he sees me and shake my hand.
We listened to “Shout to the Lord” on our way to my apartment, and talked about how unhappy he is as a lifetime security guard. “I have a passion for criminal justice,” he says, “But it appears I am too old.” Mr. Pabi wants to work for the U.S. government, but to find a federal career in criminal justice you must be under 30 years old. Although becoming a citizen inspired quite a bit of flag pin wearing and general bouncing about, Mr. Obama, who after Jesus is the next best thing, took things to a whole other level. I thought Mr. Pabi's face would split in two the first time I saw him after the election. "We did it!" he smiled, incredulous with happiness.
Mr. Pabi says he has acid reflux and so he watches what he eats – only vegetables he says. His eyes are bloodshot, he stumbles a lot, his zipper is always down, and whenever he can sneak one he catches a nap in between watchman assignments. Mr. Pabi is soft spoken and hard to understand -- all you notice at first is the big smile and the extra handshakes at the beginning and end of conversations and chance encounters. When he’s not dressed in his security guard uniform, Mr. Pabi is a dapper looking man. If you would see him walking the streets of Manhattan on the way to his immigration law class he would want you to think “Who is this man! Wow! . . . Whoa! I’ve got to meet him! . . . Wow!” and so it goes.

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