International House of PizzaMarch 22, 2008 at 11:27 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
I’ve known many foreign nationals, foreigners, naturalized citizens, and people from other countries. I’m not well-traveled, but they are; they wind up on my doorstep.
Back in the 80s, I knew several men from Nigeria, working here in this country. At Domino’s, oddly enough. Sonny Ablidoblo (roughly), and Akinola Sulemani. They were good guys, hard workers. Black as coal. Sonny hated black Americans. Do the accent in your head: "I will not deliver to them niggars!"
Akin came here to go to school on his country’s dime for geology, but stayed here and eventually started his own very successful cleaning business. I remember one day he is parked in front of the Domino’s (taking the ‘good’ parking spot) with the back of his little Datsun jacked up. He is changing his back brakes. In the snow.
Yeah. I had to help him. He didn’t know what he was doing. I put them both back together, using a pair of pliers in lieu of a brake tool. He wanted to pay me; I said no. "This is what we do for each other, brother." I added, "Don’t fucking do this again."
A few years later, I was managing Blackjack, and hired Richard Mbatha, from South Africa. A nice black man. Green cards aren’t really green, did you know that?
In 96 or 97 I worked at Papa John’s, and it was like the UN. There was Russian, a young Chinese guy, an older Chinese guy, and a Paskistani. Our supervisor was Paskistani as well. The Russian guy was always looking for the next big thing, a bigger, better deal. He always had some scheme going. The young Chinese guy’s family owned a restaurant–and he couldn’t stand working with them anymore. The older Chinese guy was friendly, but it was hard to overcome the language barrier. When he would take a delivery, he would look at the slip and write on it in his native language….I guess that helped him.
The Paskistani was a real hustler. A good driver, and frugal, prudent. In addition to driving nights for us, he drove lunch at a Chinese restaurant. A little known secret is that he loaned money to the manager so she could buy a house after her divorce. Eventually he bought a gas station, and now owns several with his brother.
Although not related to pizza, I do have a good friend named Serena, who is from Korea. Or, as good a friend as I can be with her. I really had a thing for her….until I got to know her. She is just kind of cold, and distant. Even though she’s not Chinese, she has a wall up. A Great Wall.
At the Domino’s I currently work, there are two young Chinese kids and a man from Bulgaria. The young Chinese girl is just so cute, and nice. Her brother is the older one. It is odd as hell to see them speak with no accent. Yet together they speak Chinese. I told them we were going to start speaking a secret language around them. Pig Latin. They thought I was making it up.
The other night Paro, the man from Bulgaria, was working. We had some down time, and I wanted him to tell me about his country. He explained the brief history of the Slavic states, and drew me a map. We had a good talk, explaining the differences we had between our cultures.
Next to Scooters, there is a liquor store that has been through a few owners. Most recently, a family from India. The father and different sons and occasionally one of the wives will be working it. Very nice people, we are friendly with them. Occasionally I give them a pizza (cheese or vegetables only) and they give me some beer..like the one I’m drinking now. I had a talk with the father this evening, he asked me, "So this Easter, what is this about?"
I explained a little, and he said, "Yes, yes, I know that. But what about the eggs?"
You don’t think your customs are silly until you have to explain them. Although they have their own beliefs, they have embraced our culture–he had to get an Easter basket for his young grand daughter. I explained that the eggs came from pagan spring and fertility traditions that Christianity absorbed when it spread through Europe, in the same way many of our Christmas traditions originate. He seemed satisfied. It was good to talk about, to help others gain understanding. Next time, I’m asking him questions.
As I left, he said, "Happy Easter!"