Ok, so I was moving. Not a very fun thing to do but regardless one that had to be done. Let’s just say not every step of the process was smooth. Because of the frustration and not so helpful individuals I had to deal with, I did not expect anyone to be sympathetic to me and I was not going to show sympathy towards anyone. However, my assumption was reversed once I went to pick up the moving truck.
Since it was the end of the month (a very busy moving season), there was not much leeway about keeping the truck longer than the usual term. After some half hour of contemplation the attendant notified me of a truck that was not entered into their inventory, which happened to be the size I needed and she allowed me to rent it for a day longer-Perfect! Ok so maybe everyone was not as cold-hearted as I felt during that week. So there- my first assumption of others not being sympathetic towards my hectic moving process went out the window.
On the first day of moving, I went to pick up guys to help move the heavy furniture into the truck, since it was a weekday, none of my friends could help. I drove to a known intersection near my home where immigrant men were standing around waiting to be picked up for the next gig. I was on the phone with the car windows up (or so I thought) and doors locked when I first parked. They kept eye contact with me during my phone conversation. As soon as I rolled my windows down all doors were opened by the crew who rushed and circled the vehicle like bees out of a honeycomb. There was an enormous amount of determination and just as much of desperation in their eyes. Their faces dry from the bone-piercing cold weather were sticking into the open window speaking something that sounded like broken English. Who made it into the car meant who was getting work. Before I was able to say what I needed them for, they were sitting in my car. I was still trying to register the fact that the doors to the car were unlocked as soon as the window rolled down and the car was filled with men without any price or job agreement. With limited terminology they asked me what type of help I needed. While I was attempting to communicate with the ones that made it into the car the rest were still trying to get in and was shaking the car as if an earthquake hit nearby.
The feeling of insecurity and fear that arose from the unknown men barging into my car was quickly replaced with a feeling of sympathy as I read the desperation on their faces (yet again another one of my assumptions has evaporated). At that point how much they were going to make didn’t seem as important as the fact that they were about to make something-anything. The guys that made it in the car were grinning from ear to ear to have won that morning’s battle as I drove off.
This was one of the occasions that made me think about my own immigration to this country and the process of assimilation my family and I had to do culturally. The men, despite language barriers, were moving our belongings with care and the way they were instructed. Have you ever watched the movie ‘A day without Mexicans’? If you haven’t, then put it on your to-watch list.
The issue of immigration is a controversial one. However, I am a firm believer that everyone has a place and purpose and can’t help to wonder how this country will function without them-not to mention our Abesha restaurants. So, think about your everyday dealings and pay more attention to where you see immigrants working. How will you and yours be affected without them (us) in the picture?