Part IV. Working for Arabs
So I needed to get a job to be able to support myself after the disruption of flow of finance from dad. I couldn’t work openly or get a job like anyone else in the states. Just like other arab students like myself, I searched for jobs within the arab community. I first worked for a Palestinian guy who owned a store, a small store with no windows, on some corner of the least secured place in Cleveland. I was happy. Now I’m making $2/hr whole working 76 hours a week and making 150 per week. This was the first money I earned myself. I worked hard for it, and it sure tasted so damn right. Yeah babe…show me the money.
3 weeks later, the owner fired me saying that his nephew needed the job. Of course, he didn’t pay my third week. So I worked 76 hours free for him. Made me angry. Life is not easy, not like before where the check from dad will be in my account every 3 months. Then I got another job working from 10 pm to 4 am in an area called “the flats” where the nightclubs and strip joints are located. I was selling gyros. Although I worked for 5 hours, but I made more money than working in a store. I loved this job. I made friend with so many people, night people. But now, I’m watching other people have fun, in a part of night that I used to have fun in, only now I can’t. So what…I needed the money…yeah babe..show me the money.
I lasted few months in this job..up toward the late 1993. Made enough money, and saved some of it. Then in one night, I was approached by 4 guys, and I quickly knew that my luck will run out. They were drunk. Then suddenly, out of no where, one of them struck me in the face that I felt my jaw broke. I was on the ground, and all I could feel are kicks on my body. They left me alone after they broke the stand (like a hotdog stand) and took all the money I made that night. The funny thing is you get be bleeding lying on the ground in this area called “the flats”, and no one will offer help. As if there was nothing was going on at all. Probably everyone was drunk to notice a bleeding person laying on the ground. Oh well…it’s the price of making money, so show me the money.
The owner of the gyro stand didn’t like what happen, and fired me. So now, I’m looking for another job. Went back to working in a store. $200 dollars a week, 7 days a week, from 9 am to 10 pm, with one day off each month. I lasted in the job for a couple of months. The daughter of the owner, who was 16 years old, kind of liked me. I liked her too…but….she is only 16. So we both were friends, very close friends, but each of us was scared of doing the one crime that ruins us both. I think I loved her. You know what I did love her, and didn’t want to hurt her. But it was obvious, and her mom noticed that. So she told the father, who came to me one day so angry (I could remember his name..abu sami, and he was from a city called elbeereh in Palestine), and started yelling at me warning me from getting close to his daughter, and he would never have his daughter marry a scum like myself. He cursed me by calling me “your garbage, and don’t dream of marrying my daughter”. I responded screaming from the top of my lung, “I’m not garbage, I came from a big honorable family” and turned my back and started destroying the shelves in his store, then walked out.
I took the long ride bus home (3 busses from the east side of Cleveland to a community called Lakewood), and it was about 2 hours ride. I was thinking all that time. Thinking about my dreams, ambitions, and where I wanted to be. Why am I not understanding whats happening to me? I’m 23 years old young man, and all I do is wrong…after wrong. And I’m not garbage. I came from a big family, an honorable family. My family shed blood for Palestine and Jordan, while these people sold their lands to jewish settlers, got cash money, and immigrated to the states. I’m no garbage. Who the hell am I? I now asked myself the one decisive question…who am I? Like usual. I failed to know the answer because my mind was so busy thinking how to get back at those arabs who degraded me and my family. Then found a way where I get the pleasure of hitting them where it hurt the most….and I did all I could….[edited by author].
Sometime late 1994, I landed a decent job at a gas station in the east side of Cleveland. I was paid $5.50/hr and again working for an arab (from a town called beet haneena). I worked the nightshift, while went back to school in the day. At any rate, I’d love to discuss other aspects of my life, especially at this point of the story, but will have to restrain myself from doing so…don’t want to be that transparent. I started studying hard and working hard. I even bought a brand new car, same year model. I worked so hard in this place that I ruptured a disc, and was almost paralyzed for 2 days till I was able to regain my control. School was going great. Somehow, I am awakening now. I was still weak for women and booze as we say here in the states.
I had to get out of working for arabs. I got nothing but misery and almost physical disability from working for arabs. I had to endure so much of their hatred and oppressive behavior toward us. They have abused me and others, and on top of that, they were always telling us that we’re lucky that we have a job with them. Yet, they were gaining a lot by having cheap labor, less taxes, and not having to pay overtime at all.
Sometimes I look back at those days and laugh at some incidents that occurred while working for arabs. In one time, I was hungry so I grabbed a bag of potato chips, a small bag that cost 25c and ate it. The owner looked at me, and said “that was delicious wasn’t it? I didn’t see you paying for that?”. I was angry of course, yet, it was so funny that I laughed, and gave him a dollar and said “I’ll get 3 more bags later today”. The customs were your food was supposed to be free in the store that you work in. A lousy 25 cents bag of chips.
Sometime, the idiots will have me pick up some food for them from their homes, and I would drive to their homes to pick up their food. I liked that because I got deserts in their house, for many times I would smell something tasty, and say “wow that smells good” only to have the wife or daughter make me sit down and eat whatever she was baking.
To summarize, working with arabs had lots of good things for me, like meeting their wives and daughters (most were very nice, unlike the males in their families), eating fresh made arab food, establish my personality toward others, taste oppression, and finish my education without the need of my dad’s finance. Some bad things happened were like oppression and how it affected my aspiration, enduring the looks of the 17 years old arab boys driving the best cars, eating the best food, having the best life, yet when you ask for 50 cents raise, they go wild. I know that there was a mentality against arab students, I really know that. We had something they didn’t have…and that is education, and persistence to endure hardships in pursuing our dreams. Oh yes..they also hated us because of their nice wives and daughters who were nice and caring.
To be continued
Crazy & random thoughts
7 years ago