Monday, May 18, 2015

Ghana, but not forgotten.

A bunch of us got called in to work over the weekend. First, it looked like we'd be able to work from home. Then, it looked like we'd work on Saturday and have our Sunday off. Ultimately, I headed home around 9 last night. And I left on the early side.

It took me forever to get a cab. Ninth Avenue was closed for the weekend for some sort of Food Festival and for whatever reason that closure seemed to tie up the entire city. There were probably people in Staten Island waiting extra long at a light because some suburbanite was selling zeppoles on 46th Street.

I got into a cab and was met with the wild gesticulations of a West African cab driver.

"Where are you from," I asked.

"Ghana. I will go back there someday. New York, I love. But Ghana I go back to."

I mentioned Kwame Nkrumah, the man who led Ghana out of colonial status to independence. I must be one of ten Americans who know Nkrumah, and all at once the driver and I were blood brothers. He opened up to me.

"I want to bring my father this truck," he said pointing to a Ford F-250 that was parked, almost inexplicably in the more rarefied precincts of Central Park West. "I will ship it home to my father, who is a farmer. But then customs takes $7000 and I cannot afford that."

I asked him if he had heard of Johnny Cash and his great song called "One piece at a time," in which an autoworker steals a Cadillac El Dorado one piece at a time over the course of decades, sneaking pieces out in his lunch box.

"Maybe you should try that to avoid customs," I said.

He hadn't heard the song. I quickly found the sound on YouTube and we sat in the car in front of my apartment listening to it.

He laughed the laugh of the ages.

"If God does not give you enough water to bathe," he said, "you wash your hands and legs."

I have him a big tip--I had worked all weekend at time and a half, and we shook hands.

He earned it the $10 extra I gave him.

He had made a sweaty Sunday at work worth it.

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