Friday, February 21, 2014

Yet another Gulf story!

Me:   Welcome to our bank sir, how can I help you today?
Him: Arabic….  Arabic???      Arabic!!!
Me:   That would be me, my name is Tony and I'll be happy to assist. 

He scans me twice from my head to my toe and though I don't want to make assumptions but from the friendly expression on his face, it seems that he does not like what he sees. Then the investigation as usual starts:

Him: What is your name besides that "Tony" you call yourself?
Me:   That's pretty much it sir, that's my name.
Him: Okay fine. What is your real name?
Me:  Tony is my real name
Him: But that's not an Arabic name. 
Me:  No, it is not an Arabic name, it is my name
Him: Oh so you're Americanized now. What is your Muslim name?
Me:  I don't have a Muslim name.
Him: What is that supposed to mean?
Me:   It does not mean anything tricky, just an answer to your question. 
Him: But you're Arabic.
Me:  I am Syrian and I speak Arabic. Let's get past the name issue, how can I help  

We open a bank account. During the seemingly endless painful process, he asks me how long has it been since I moved to the United States, what is my wife's nationality, how many kids I have, if it is me or my wife who is causing the problem of not having kids, if I owned my home, how much I make a year, if I pray regularly, if I cheat on my wife etc. Then he asks for my business card.

Him: Is the number on your card your cellphone number?
Me:  No, that's my bank phone number.
Him: Oh yeah! why don't you write on the back your cellphone number too!
Me:  My cellphone is for my personal use. You can reach me for your banking 
         needs at the number on my card.
Him: And what if my ATM card does not work at midnight? How can I reach you 
         then (felt like he added to this question the word "Smartass")?
Me:  You can call the number on the back of your ATM card, they open 24/7.
Him: But I do not speak English as you can see. (The tone was condescending)
Me:  Sure, just ask for an Arabic translator.
Him: Arabic translator!!! Then why are you working here? In my country we don't 
         even have to ask, the banker would voluntarily give us his phone number and 
         say to us "Call me for anything you need sir at any time". What kind of customer 
          service is this?
Me:  It's the American kind.
Him: Well it sucks
Me:   I'm sorry you feel that way.
Him: How old are you?
Me:   Well come to think of it, I am one year younger than you 
           Mr. xxx qahta xxxx mutair xxxx likha
Him: Oh please, no seriously, how old are you?
Me:   40
Him: I am forty one, how could you be 40?
Me:  That's simple, by being born forty years ago!
Him: But you look fifty Tony.
Me:  I can explain, working at this particular location for the past five years made me age a 
         little faster than I care for. I guess age is not my best friend. Luckily you look 
 and act like a 20 year old man ma sha allah aaleek!
Him: It was nice meeting you. 
Me:   Sure, the feeling is mutual!

I will need a glass of wine later, no seriously I know I will. I go to buy my favorite wine bottle from Trader Joe's and the cashier wants to card me and I go "Seriously? You want to check my ID?" She goes "Sir, better be safe than sorry, I need to make sure just in case". Me "God bless you young girl, I was just told I look 50 and here you are 5 minutes later wanting to card me. By all means take a look, you just made my day". And she did not make my day by making me feel younger, but by being nice and polite to me!

Mercy …..

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Father you promised

Dad, it's been a while since you left us for what we call here on earth "A better place"
Dad it's been so hard for us, look at us we're scattered all over the place
Oh how we prayed for your forgiveness, mentioned your name at every grace
Your warm memory comes to our hearts through your merciful and kind face

Did you not promise upon your leave that we were gonna be alright?
And we believed you, yes we believed, dad you were always right
You promised but why years later, upon your memory mom's eyes still get wet
It is unfair because we're only human, so did you, now that you're a spirit, forget?

Sometimes I wonder if it was a blessing in disguise that you're now gone
Because you left us whole, and did not have a chance to see what was yet to come
That place we loved, created memories, wrote our history, proudly called home
Has now gone, and we're torn apart, surviving desperately the uncertain and unknown

Did you not promise upon your departure that we were gonna be just fine?
And we believed you, dad look at us, our lives are now on the line
You promised but why do we feel damaged, can we go back in time?
Have you forsaken us, abandoned us? do something, give us hope, give us a sign

Where art thou father, can you hear us, can you see what is going on?
Our home is bombed, our lives are burned, and No! you're not the only one 
Who sacrificed his love. Each one of us to this war lost a parent, a sibling, a son
Here we are bloodless, lifeless, soulless, we're done, oh God, we are undone

Did you not promise upon your death that we were going to be okay?
You left no will, no trust, but the legacy of a broken promise, so "come what may"
Are you in cold blood playing chess with God, killing those soldiers who did not pray?
Father, your blessings are many, but is it a blasphemy that we want to break away?