Thursday, July 28, 2011

People Like You Make Me Sick

Hmmm....I never got around to posting this before I left Doha: so, now, I will.

Not people like Sirish (actually, Suresh, but I’m sticking with my first spelling, so let’s just ignore the fact that I got his name, and much else about him, wrong, ok?) It’s not like he’s going to read this blog, although I would strongly encourage him to!, which does remind me that I wouldn’t write about my other colleagues in Qatar, although oh boy the stories I could tell! which means that I am treating Sirish (or Suresh) as someone I can write about, without worrying that he’ll storm into my office saying “Hey, Pal, you think you can just write about me and post it for the whole world to read, without giving a shit about what I think?” to which I’d respond “Yeah, go ahead and post whatever you want about me, because I’m so smart and charming and bullet-proof, that whatever you post will just enhance my global reputation.”

Just don’t send any of those pictures, ok?

No, Sirish does not make me sick.  Over time, we developed a healthy and warm relationship.  He’d ask me for money, and I’d ask him to bring me coffee or juice.  Really.  When I’d see him the first day of the week, I’d say “So, Sirish, how was your weekend?” and he would reply “I need more money.”

He did bring me coffee.  LOTS of coffee.  He started walking in to my classroom during class with a big mug and a glass of water, and I would thank him profusely.  I was slightly embarrassed by this – did my students think that I ordered him to bring me coffee in class, as a way of establishing my authority? – but I was more embarrassed by the fact that I always had to pee like crazy about 20 minutes before class was over.  If there is a big mug of coffee, and a glass of ice water, in front of me that I’m going to drink it.  Hmm.  I should learn something from this.

I think he was sad to see me go…hard to say whether he liked me, which I think he did, or whether he saw me as his ATM, because I ended up doubling his base salary by cleaning my apartment and this and that.  I couldn’t find him before I left, so I wrote him a note and left it on my desk.

I did learn that Sirish gets up at 5 a.m., catches the bus at 5.30, arrives at Georgetown at 6.30 and then works from 7 to 5 for about, as I calculated, $1.30 an hour, give or take.  He shares a room with 7 other guys, who sleep in shifts, I think, because there are not enough beds.  Sirish needs some surgery on his stomach for reasons that are not clear to me, although one of my colleagues suggested that it was from a shrapnel wound he received during the war in Sri Lanka.  Oh, Sirish is Tamil, and the Tamil Tigers were on the losing end of the war.  The end did not include an unconditional surrender as with Lee at Appomattox, but a slaughter of the remaining Tigers.

One sleepy afternoon, I asked Sirish: Do you ever want to take a nap?  He said of course….but if he were caught, he would be docked on week’s pay.  He knew this because someone had narked on one of his friends.  Wow.  One week’s pay.  I think I’m a couple years in debt. 

Awhile ago I posted a Fascinating! Insightful! Truly wise! blog about the fact – and yes, it’s a fact – that I make tons more than Sirish because of dumb luck.  I reposted this on Facebook on a discussion thread about taxing and deficits and blah blah blah.  I thought it would be warmly received for the fascinating, insightful, wise gem that it was.  Instead, the first comment in response, after a few gratuitous slurs towards the middle east, was something like:

“If you [me] were a man, you’d give half your money to Sirish and ask him to move in with you, rather than asking the government to steal my money.  People like you make me sick.” 

Now, I really am for freedom of speech, really, and even for dickheads, not that this specific person is a dickhead – although I have my suspicions – and I am glad folks engage in political discussions, so more power to him, but my gut responses were:

Hey, it’s possible for people to believe that good societies should have police, libraries, and bathrooms without personally volunteering to be a cop, a book, or a toilet.

Hey, my post didn’t say anything about government or taxes, and so is it possible that my precious few readers, which may or may not include you, because I’m not sure if you’re reading this or just looking for more pictures, which I don’t have, because I lost my camera, don’t actually bother reading my posts?  Hey, dickhead, and yes now I am talking about you in particular, can you take the time to understand what I’m saying before commenting on it?  Thanks.

And Hey! On the social network that is FB, is it possible that a friend of a friend actually would post for the world to see “People like you make me sick”?  This from a person I haven’t met, but who is a friend of a friend.  WTF?  We’re doomed.