Thursday, May 15, 2014
Where to Abdul?
"Can you pick me up? Now."
If you were to scan through my iPhone you'd find this text in all its glorious forms. As the father of two teenage daughters, it's to be expected.
For those of you about to enter this stage of parenthood, let this be a word of caution. In addition to your regular job you will take on the duties of a full time chaffuer.
If at all possible, try to dissuade your son or daughter from getting too tight with Persians. This will complicate your life to no end.
I mean no disrespect, but Persians, it seems, have a different understanding of time and time management. I can't tell you how many times I have delivered my daughter to her Iranian friend's house in Beverly Hills only to find out --sometimes 20 minutes later -- that her Persian pal had a dentist appointment. Or a class with a tutor.
It is uncanny. And my friend from Tehran concurs it is a common cultural occurrence.
In any case, as I was in the car on my way to retrieve my daughter I was stopped at a red light. There, I noticed an older black man who looked surprisingly like the one pictured above. He was running across the street hoping to catch the city bus.
He missed it. And I could see the disappointment in his eyes.
The light turned green and I proceeded to get my daughter.
On the way back to the house I noticed the older man, not really old, about 64, twenty years older than me, was still sitting on the bench waiting for the next bus.
Then I did what I should have done in the first place, I pulled over.
"What are you doing Dad?", I heard from the back seat.
The old man hopped in, a bit flabbergasted by this unusual gesture from a total stranger.
Turned out he didn't need to go that far. Just a few miles to the next bus station where his son was going to pick him up.
He told us his name was Addis Ababa, or something that sounded like that. And that he had come to America about a year ago, from his native country of Eritrea.
He couldn't stop thanking me.
Little did he know that I should have been thanking him. For giving me an opportunity to put on a little demonstration for my child. To show her the value of a random act of kindness. Not that I want her picking up strange old men at bus stops, but you get the point.
I bring all this up because yesterday CNN reported that one in four people throughout the globe harbor anti-Semitic feelings. This, despite the fact that more 5 billion people on the planet have never even met a Jew. The percentage was significantly higher in Africa and the Middle East.
Statistically speaking -- and yes I understand the danger of making broad generalizations while making a broad generalization -- there's a good chance that my new friend Addis, who seemed like a very nice person, is one these uninformed people. And that for unknown reasons he bears a hatred for Members of the Tribe.
Perhaps my impromptu courtesy would have dissuaded him of those ugly preconceptions.
I didn't introduce myself as Rich Siegel, American Jew.
Now I wish I had.