I went to lunch one day not long ago, nothing special, just a fast food pasta lunch. After I ordered my food, a middle aged Saudi man in Thobe approached me and said in a surprised tone "you're American?" "sure am" I said. He invited us to sit with him for lunch and I discovered that his name was Emad and he had done his undergrad and masters work in engineering at USC. He was now a partner in an architecture firm and we enjoyed a great lunch of laughs and conversation. We talked about everything from his family to my family, his country to my country, California and the left coast Vs. the midwest. We talked about what he loved about Saudi and what he loved about the US and how his daughters spoke perfect English and would most certainly go to college in the states (USC he hoped). We discussed the problems the Kingdom has with corruption, and as he termed it the "ridiculous idea of Saudiazation"...He discussed how his company wasn't as competitive because they had to employ a "bunch of lazy idiots", pay them decent salary's and that they couldn't even be trusted to supervise a job site...what with them "sleeping in their air conditioned cars all day or texting...they aren't even qualified to be the boss". Instead they had to be placed in redundant positions with an expat worker making less money doing the real job, while the Saudi held the title. He didn't like the idea at all, and I don't blame him, I'm not crazy about it either. We had a great lunch, he wished me a pleasant stay in the Kingdom, thanked me for my efforts in teaching, wished me the greatest success at the "uphill battle" I faced with Saudi students. At our final parting he gave me his card, invited me to a dinner, and also told me to call him if I ever needed anything.
Man 2, April 2012:
About every other day or so, I stop at the Krispy Kreme on the way to school. I get just about the same thing every time and its usually waiting for me by the time I get to the counter. The Young Philippine cashier, knows exactly how I take my coffee, and that I usually want one powdered strawberry filled jelly doughnut to go with it. He always has a smile, and always has my coffee at least started when I arrive at the counter. Today though, he had a look of a different type. Some kind of mix of rage, stress and fear. As it turns out, I'm sure those were exactly the emotion he was feeling. It seems he had a bit of a morning rush. Two cars in the drive thru, both wanting immediate service and a lobby full of customers apparently had him running around like a chicken with his head cut off. He handled it fine until a young Saudi boy, about 15 began screaming at him and calling him an animal. He tried to ignore the boy, so the boy pushed his way through the crowd, walked behind the counter shoved this man out of the way and with his hands began grabbing doughnuts. The cashier attempted to stop him and the boy began screaming and fighting and calling the man a host of "pleasant things". The boy demanded the manager and continued to taunt the cashier. As "ordered" the cashier called the manager, and soon a young Arab man (Egyptian I believe) and his even younger assistant came trudging sorrowfully out of the back. They addressed the young Saudi boy with respect and asked him how they could help. The boy who was now sitting down and now had his feet on the table didn't bother to look up at the manager, just continued to text and speak in a combination of broken English and Arabic about the "animals that touch his food" and how this "is my countries"[sic] . The manager did his best to appease the boy who along with his older companion sat and smoked and ate stolen doughnuts. I did my best to calm the cashier and took my morning meal with me as I headed for the door. I wanted nothing more than to grab this scrawny little brat by his neck and throw him through the window, or maybe stop and tell him that I was an important American and I would add his name to the terrorist watch list. In the end though I settled for my best you're a real piece of #$%^ look and walked out as the manager continued taking the abuse and trying to calm him down. The last look I saw on the cashiers face was the one wondering how he was going to feed his family after he got fired, possibly jailed and deported for stopping the "little prince" from stealing doughnuts.