Two Vignettes from Behind the Wheel
I am driving with a young man from Africa. We're on our way back from a job interview, and have been explaining that it's OK that he wasn't hired on the spot, that there is an abstract hiring process here, that it takes time.
Young Man: It's very hard here.
michael5000: Yes, America can be a hard place in some ways.
YM: When I was in the camp, my friends who were already here would call me and say "Come to the United States as soon as you can! It's easy to get work, there's a lot of money, it is going to be great, come and join us!" But now that I'm here, yes, it's a rich country, there's a lot of money, but you have to work very, very hard, and it is so hard to get a job.
m5k: Do you have friends that are still in the camp?
m5k: Are you ever able to talk with them?
m5k: What do you tell them?
YM (laughing): I tell them, "Come to the United States as soon as you can! It's easy to get work, there's a lot of money!"
I am driving with a man from Southeast Asia. We are going to pick up a teenager who, having lived his whole life in a refugee camp, has tried to travel across the city after only two weeks in the United States and has become hopelessly lost.
michael5000: I'm surprised this kind of thing doesn't happen more often.
Man from Southeast Asia: It happens sometimes, though. I have a friend from camp who got lost one day after he got here.
m5k: How did he get home?
MfSA: Well, that's the funny part. The morning after he arrived, he decided to go to Safeway to get cigarettes. And the Safeway, it was just across the street from his apartment, so he walked over and bought the cigarettes. But then, I think he walked out a different entrance than he had come in.
MfSA: Yeah. So he was completely lost, and didn't know what to do, and he didn't speak any English at all. He was totally upset, and started crying. So he did what they had told him to do in an emergency, and dialed 9-1-1.
m5k: Oh no.
MfSA: Three police cars came! Their lights are flashing, sirens going.... He's there crying, and he shows them his address. The police start laughing, because, well, there's his apartment right there across the street. They can see it from where they are standing. He gets very upset and starts shouting in his language, "Why are you laughing at me! Why are you laughing at me!"
m5K: That's a really bad first day in a new country.
MfSA: Yeah. After he told me that story, I gave him a new nickname.
m5k: A new nickname?
MfSA: Now I call him "9-1-1."