posted Thu, 03 Mar 2005
There is a new door-opener guy at the JCC. This is the guy who opens the door at 6:00 to let in the thundering hordes who push and shove past each other – politely – we are in the South – to get to the stairstepper first.
The guy we used to have – Mr Lee – is the one who died of “congenial heart disease” right before Christmas. He would open the doors and then sit, too tired to do anything else.
This new guy – also Korean – is young, healthy and vigorous. He has a wicked sense of humor that seems to be unappreciated by most of the patrons waiting to be let in. His second morning on the job, he stood back by the desk until 6:00 a.m. exactly.
But he wasn’t going by the clock over the desk, which is a little bit fast. Instead, he was going by the time on his cellphone. When people started to bang on the door and point at the clock, demanding that he open the door now, he just smiled and pointed at his phone. But he was walking toward the doors as he was doing so. It was clear he was teasing the door bangers.
Oh, the griping and complaining and the promises to talk to the management! All over a 45-second perceived delay in opening the doors. People were downright rude, making nasty comments about how he probably didn’t even speak English.
The guy next to me commented that he didn’t like the delay, either, but it seemed that perhaps people were overreacting. I told him that it didn’t bother me as long as I got to watch people way more uptight than I am being tortured.
I also sympathized with the guy after the nasty comments about his language ability. “How many of you speak Korean?” I wanted to ask. I have been the stupid foreigner who doesn’t speak the language well. In my first months in Chile, there were so many times I wanted to scream, “In English, I’m smart! In English, I’m funny! In English, I don’t sound like an idiot!”
As I was leaving that morning, I saw him sitting with a book. I asked what he was reading. He held up a copy of “Sabrina, the Teen-Aged Witch” in one hand and a notebook and dictionary in the other. “I learn English,” he explained.
Maybe he’ll learn how to cast a spell on the obnoxious people.