Sep. 7th, 2017

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Samir went off to seek his fortune in New York City this morning.

Like the woodcutter’s son!

Unlike the woodcutter’s son, he’ll be coming back to the quaint and scenic Hudson Valley on an afternoon train.

Samir has been itching to move to New York City. I’m not entirely sure why.

I think he’s pretty much given up on Plan A, which involved going back to school to get a PhD in some esoteric field of electronics.

Plan B involves making lots and lots of money in the shortest amount of time possible.

I’m a fan of Plan A but not of Plan B. There are all sorts of reasons why Plan B is unfeasible, not the least of which is the fact that Samir looks like someone who might enjoy running around and blowing up large buildings while screaming, Allah 'akbar!

Yes, yes, yes, I know it’s so-o-o politically incorrect for me to say that.

Nonetheless, it’s true.

And it’s truer in New York City than it is in the quaint and scenic Hudson Valley.


Samir contacted me in a panic yesterday afternoon. He’s been applying for employment via those monster job sites left and right over the past 10 days. His only criteria seemed to be (A) that the job have something vaguely to do with his field (advanced electronics) and (B) that the job be in New York City.

Yesterday, finally, he got a nibble.

He sent me the job description.

Applicant must be able to work in confined spaces and stand for extended periods of time, I read. The required education was a high school diploma.

“Samir, you do realize that this job is a very low level entry job, don’t you?” I asked gently.

“What you mean ‘low level’?”

“I mean it is a job designed for someone who does not have a lot of skills. And that means it is a job that will not pay very much money. I would be surprised if it paid more than $12 an hour.”

“Is okay,” he said. “I will get the job and move to New York City. And then I will get job that makes more money.”

“But Samir,” I said. “It costs a lot of money to live in New York City. A lot of money.”

And there’s no guarantee you’ll get another job that makes more money.

Samir ignored me. “They ask for my resume. Please will you look at my resume?”

Only he didn’t actually have a resume. What he had was a curriculum vitae.

His CV listed his educational accomplishments at exhaustive length – master’s degree in Electronics Option Industrial Control from University Hadj Lakhder Batna Algeria – and his interests – chess, coding, travel, gardening.

“Samir,” I said, again gently – the American male ego is such a fragile thing, I can only imagine how fragile the male ego is in a culture where my entire gender is essentially breeding stock. “This is not a resume.”

“What you mean?”

I attempted to explain the concept of a resume to him. Job descriptions. Every job you’ve ever had. What that job entailed, how your superhuman skills enabled you to succeed at that job far beyond the bounds of the human imagination. In three lines of text but preferably less.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “We meet for tutoring session tomorrow, yes? Before I go to city? We can make a resume then.”

I sighed. “We can meet,” I said, “but we won’t have enough time to write you a resume. As I said, this is a low level job, so if they’re really desperate, and they think you can do the work, they may hire you even without a resume. But you’ll need a resume at some point.”

Then I proceeded to write him five pages of instructions on how to take the train and the subway to the destination where his interview was to take place – right off the Gowanus Parkway! In Sunset Park!

And I met with him this morning.

“So-o-o-,” I said. “I couldn’t tell from the description you emailed me. But exactly what does this firm do?”

“I think they install security equipment,” Samir said. “In homes, in offices.”

And I thought: Oh my GAWD. You will never get this job! I mean, the optics are just fuckin’ terrible. Hi, I’m Samir! Your friendly Islamic security tech! Now! If you will just give me all your security codes, so I can send them to my pals in Mosul –

I really have to figure out a way to persuade Samir to stay in Poughkeepsie. And get him accepted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. So he can score a job at Google and make lot$ and lot$ and lot$ of money without being exposed to all the prejudice he will undoubtedly experience in New York City.

Because, ironically, it’s that prejudice that could turn him. Having survived my own adolescence – which included a three month stint as part of cult goon squad charged with putting rattlesnakes in hostile lawyers’ mailboxes – I know from personal experience how easy it is to turn people who are young, friendless, and bitter.

I even tried to explain this to Samir.

“Samir, if you go to New York City, you will be alone. You won’t have any friends. It’s hard to make friends in New York City. Here, you have people who care about you, you have your mosque –“

“I don’t go to mosque anymore,” he said.

“But why?” I asked.

“Bad people are there,” he said. “I don’t want them to attach me.”

And I had to wonder exactly what he meant by that.


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