Jews rule America. America may be a Christian country, but the Jews own it. They own all major banks, control the factories and businesses, and run the stock markets. You name it, and the Jews own or run it. The Jews are out to rule the world. They do it by helping each other and show no mercy to non-Jews.
With those thoughts deeply drilled in me before leaving Iran for America, imagine my shock as a total stranger Iranian Jew came to my cousin Jamshid and I in the lobby of the YMCA and asked us for help. Ask us two Iranian non-Jewish students to help him with work? We ourselves were desperate trying to find work. And here I was told how Jews own America and how they help their own. What about this guy? Why don’t they help him? Why would he have to come to us for help?
The lobby of the Y at 826 S. Wabash in Chicago was teeming with college students who had come from as far away as Norman, Oklahoma in hope of landing a summer job. If you want work, you go to Chicago. If you go broke in Chicago, you go broke everywhere in the country. Those were the words on college campuses. And that summer, in contrast to the previous one, even Chicago had very little to offer the horde of college students who came to it to fill the places of the regular workers taking their vacations.
The fellow, Feraydoon, must’ve overheard my cousin and me speaking Farsi. He had figured that here were two Iranian compatriots he could approach for possible help. Feraydoon was one of those out of state students from Oklahoma. Jamshid, the local maven in-the-know was boasting to me about his discovery of a potential treasure trough and Feraydoon must’ve overheard him.
“Look here, Bahram. I’ve got it. I really have. We can make a fortune. I know about this job and we can start tomorrow at the crack of dawn,” cousin was boasting with a great air of self-adulation. I got really excited. It was the best news I could hope for. Things were bleak. Even menial work was nowhere to be had. Nobody was hiring. Regular workers had been laid off or fired by the tens of thousands. Many factories had closed. Factory work was the best-paying work. Not a chance for landing one of those dream jobs. And here was my smart cousin who lived at the Y, went to college in Chicago, and worked part-time down the street at the Conrad Hilton hotel, reassuring me of a real money-maker work.
Only an hour earlier, I had parked my jalopy a couple of blocks away under the El and rushed to get a hold of Jamshid and get on with the job of finding work. The night before, I had packed all my worldly belongings, mostly books and a few personal items, in my car and parked it close to the campus at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I had one last exam to take and I planned to be among the first to hit Chicago and have a better shot at landing work. The minute I finished the exam, I pointed the wheezing rust-bucket, a 1947 Studebaker convertible, in a northerly direction for the 160 or so miles trip.
During the short time I had been in the States, I was repeatedly assaulted by one cultural shock after another. Some of the shocks were just shocks. I had come to this land of magic with my whole set of hopes and dreams. My fears, emotional baggage and my misconceptions had also tagged along with me. In this new land, a lot of things surprised me and little surprised me at the same time.
One thing that surprised me had to do with Jamshid. He had come to the States only a few months before I arrived. He had enrolled in some college in Chicago, lived in a closet-size room at the Y, worked some and managed to generate enough income to cover his entire living expenses. In addition, he was also able to buy a fairly impressive late model Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. In a few telephone conversations and correspondence we had, he kept urging me to chuck Bradley, move to Chicago, and enroll in the same college as his. Then, we could rent a flat together and seek our fame and fortunes.
Well, I hadn’t chucked Bradley. But, if cousin is the magic-worker that he says he is, I might just do that. I mean the job he has already lined-up that we can start right away and make a bundle in these terrible times. That’s real magic, to my thinking.
“You want work? You have car? Cousin asked Feraydoon.
“Sorry, I don’t, but I can drive,” Feraydoon said sheepishly.
“That’s okay. You can join us,” Jamshid intoned expensively to the supplicating Feraydoon.
“Hold it Jamshid. Hold it right there. You and I need to talk about this. Excuse us Feraydoon. Just one minute,” I yanked at Jamshid’s elbow and pulled him aside.
“Excuse me your Excellency. Did you lose your mind, or you didn’t have one to lose in the first place? I feel for the guy. I really do. Couldn’t you see how he limps? And he doesn’t have a car. How in the world is he going to do the work that requires both cars and strong legs?” I shouted at him.
Jamshid had learned that the telephone company was distributing new Yellow Pages to homes in the city. Anyone with strong back, serviceable legs, and a car could go fetch a consignment of the books, deliver them and earn commissions based on the number of books delivered. That was the treasure trough that he had discovered. And now, he was enlisting Feraydoon in the venture. The poor guy who could hardly walk and had no car was going to be our co-worker-partner.
“Calm down, Bahram. Calm down. The kid needs help and we can help. Besides, he can drive. We load up our two cars and head for the neighborhood. Once we are there, Feraydoon keeps inching the cars forward while you and I deliver the books, you on one side and me on the other side of the street,” Jamshid enlightened me.
I still didn’t think Feraydoon could do the work. But, why not? He certainly had guts. He heard what the work was. A killer to be sure. Hauling those heavy books in the scorching heat. He still wants to do it. So, let him. I capitulated.
The Feraydoon factor dampened my enthusiasm somewhat, but not enough. Images of those telephone books with money dropping from their pages danced in my head.
“I was at the telephone company’s warehouse this morning, but got there too late to get a consignment of books. They were all snatched up by the time I got there. The trick is to get there real early in the morning and get in line. Oh, I would say, we should leave the Y at around three thirty or four at the latest. I know that the both of us have no problems getting up early. Feraydoon, you don’t have problem with getting up early?" said Jamshid.
"Listen, I'm ready to go right now. Can't we just sleep in our cars at the warehouse or nearby, so that we can be first in line?" I didn’t give Feraydoon a chance to reply.
"No. No need for that. If you try to sleep in your car in that part of town, it could save you the trouble of looking for work, altogether. This is not Iran. Things are a bit rough in that neighborhood," Jamshid chastised me. The big city maven was showing off to his country bumpkin cousin. After a long wheezy breath—he always wheezed when he breathed—he continued, "Four o'clock is early enough. Then, we are sure to get both cars loaded with books and head for delivery. It can be a real money maker," said Jamshid with a proud air of, “Here I share with you the precious treasure of the world, gratis.”
I thanked him and tried to get over my worries. Look at the bright side. There is work, come tomorrow. It sounds like another form of piecework. You can work hard and you know how to do that, but you don’t know how to work smart. Some “smarts” of the world believe that only the dumb work hard and the best they can hope for is to scratch a bare living. The smarts work very little and take the big loot.
In the back, and not too far back, of my mind I was very skeptical of Jamshid’s treasure find. Yet in the face of desperation even delusions were relief. We killed the rest of the evening by listening carefully for any news of jobs as people kept pouring in from their futile hunts. All we heard were bad news broadcast in foul language. Some guys decided to go and get drunk, perhaps creating work for the police who were already overworked. The police should hire us. That would get a good many out of town troubled trouble-makers off the streets.
I tossed and turned restlessly in bed for much of the night, anxiously pushing the clock toward three. The clock kept resisting and moved even slower than its usual pace. I was going to go and wake up Jamshid at three thirty. We were going to brave it to the alley to fetch our cars, scoop up our partner and head for the telephone company's warehouse in the southside.
We weren't first in line at the warehouse, by a long shot. Dozens of people were already in the vast yard. I was afraid that by the time our turn came, they would run out of books. Unnecessary worry. I guess Jamshid was right. I worry too much. But life seems to give me a lot of reasons to worry. We got all the books we could possibly pack in our cars and a list of places where they were supposed to be delivered. Jamshid's car, a four door Olds Eighty Eight took a lot of books. We left just a little room for Feraydoon in its front seat. Once he got in, I squeezed about a dozen more books on his lap and the dashboard. My car was already packed beyond its capacity. The retread tires on my car seemed flat, in spite of the fact that we had taken the precaution of doing what everyone else did—pumping them with air just short of bursting them.
As I gingerly inched the Studebaker out of the yard, with my heart in my throat, concerned about the real possibility of a blowout under the ungodly heavy load, I heard my car's tail pipe quarrel briefly with a bump. Then, a part of it dropped off and another part of the exhaust pipe started playing what sounded like a funeral tune using the pavement for instrument. I ignored it and just kept on going. The Olds wasn't faring any better. I could see it ahead of me, in all likelihood, running on busted springs. We, in our eagerness to load as many books as we could, had clearly exceeded the manufacturer’s load limits by several factors.
By about ten we made it to the designated neighborhood and jumped into action. It was time to get rid of the darned books and start taking in the money. Feraydoon was nearly a cripple. Jamshid was not exactly a Hercules, but could do hard work. Of the three, I was the most fit physically. I volunteered to take the houses across the street and let Jamshid do the ones on the same side as the cars, while Feraydoon handled inching the cars forward and getting the books out. Jamshid said he would come over and help me whenever I fell behind, since I had to cross the street each time to pick up a new armful of books.
Feraydoon didn't turn out to be a liability at all. He amazed me with his chutzpah. He limped very badly. But, he worked just as hard as we did. The only thing he didn't do was climb stairs. He hauled the books out of the car, instead of setting them on the curb he frequently took them all the way to the doorsteps. Feraydoon's hard work eased ours. Jamshid was able to come to my side of the street and help with my delivery, from time to time.
The whole thing was an exercise in suffering. Our cars were damaged by the heavy loads and the constant stop and go burned lots of gas and oil. I worried that my car, after one of the frequent stops, would opt for quitting. I know that it preferred to stop, if it could. Then, there was the unrelenting humid heat combined with the scorching overhead sun that made us pant like dogs. To make matters worse, we were at a constant risk of getting run over by a non-stop procession of cars and trucks. I couldn't haul those books all the way to the intersections and cross the streets there. So, I jay ran to avoid an unwelcome full body message by a car or a truck. At a couple of houses, I meekly asked people for a glass of water. Nice folks. They even gave me ice water. One lady gave me a bottle of Coke. Bless her heart. Coke had never tasted so good.
We didn't take time off for lunch, since we hadn't started the delivery work ‘til mid morning. We figured that we’d get the job over with, then we could relax and count our money. Relaxation time and counting our loot time happened around 3:00 P.M. Jamshid was the purser of the group. We settled in a shady area, I stretched on the ground exhausted and the two of them did the figuring out. I was just about to fall asleep when I heard a loud profanity. Jamshid, a great guy with a heart bigger than Chicago, had a short fuse. A genetic defect that seems to run in our line. He was one of the most irrepressible guys I had ever met. He was also impulsive. He had a tendency to do and say things first and then think. Maybe, he had found out that thinking about things ahead of time didn't change anything anyway other than waste time. So, why think?
"What is it? You're disturbing my sleep. I was going to have some sweet dreams."
"Go ahead and have your sweet dreams, because you are going to need it once we tell you the bitter news about how much you have made," Jamshid blurted meekly.
"Tell me. I can take it. Tell me."
"Glad you're lying down. We each made exactly $6.35 apiece," Jamshid said with a mea culpa look.
"Is this a joke? Are you pulling my legs or are you two thieving me out of my share while I was napping? We each get $6.35? That hardly pays for the gas and oil my jalopy cost me. Come on, give me the real scoop."
"Real scoop is still $6.35," he said.
I'm not a violent man and I truly liked Jamshid a great deal. But when he said we each had grossed $6.35 for all that work, I popped not only a fuse, but a circuit breaker somewhere in my head.
"You $6.35 smart aleck idiot. You-you -you know-it-all self-proclaimed local maven. That’s your brilliant scheme for making money? I guess since you are from the same bloodline as I, you can't possibly be all that smart. We are victims of our subnormal endowment. I put my trust in you and you cook up this idiocy."
Feraydoon broke in, "listen friends, I really don't think I should take an even cut, since you two supplied the cars. And Bahram you're right. It probably cost you more gas and oil money than the six dollars. I insist that the two of you split the total take. Just give me a ride back to the Y. I'll settle for that."
What he said broke my heart and almost made me cry. Although I was terribly frustrated for myself, part of my anguish was for him too. He limped badly, yet worked like a dog in the hope of making a little money. And here he was offering to give up his $6.35.
"Thanks Feraydoon. No way would I take your money. But, I'll gladly take Jamshid’s as a punishment for what he got us into. We should take his share and split it between us, just to teach him a lesson for the future. He can go ahead and come up with all the get-rich-schemes all for himself and not drag fools like you and me into them." Jamshid didn't say a word. His silence was the worst lashing he could possibly give me for my tirade.
"Come on Feraydoon, I'll give you a ride back to the Y," and I got off the sidewalk.
Jamshid stopped us, "listen you guys. We ought to do this again tomorrow. Now, we've got the technique down to a science. We can be much more efficient. Besides, maybe we get lucky and they give us a different location where we don't have to climb these darned stairs. What would you do, if you turn down this suggestion? Sit at the Y and carp all day, with the rest of those mommy's boys who are waiting for executive jobs to come looking for them?"
Well, Jamshid may not had much of a brain, but he sure had gall. How in the world are we going to be more efficient the next day? We'll be lucky to be able to crawl out of bed from torturing all the muscles we didn’t even know we had. All the lifting, running and bending over reminded me of the torture I suffered at the hand of the jerk upper classman at the Officer College back in Iran. But, that’s another story. Even if we get an easier assignment, an iffy assumption, and finish our delivery faster and with less pain, how would that change the bottom line? Loading more books into the cars? How, where? My car was ready to commit suicide and put an end to its misery, as it was. No way the wheezing oilholic car of mine can take another round of this torture.
I gave the maven the dirtiest look I could possibly muster. Believe me I can produce facial expressions that are more expressive than any word. More than one person had told me I should go into acting with that talent. But, I think their advice was more in retaliation than sincere encouragement for a rewarding career.
Jamshid wasn't anything if he wasn't persistent. That night, he talked Feraydoon into doing the same thing the next day. Poor Feraydoon knew better, but what could he do? He didn't see himself as one of those "mommy's boys" to loiter in the Y for executive jobs to come to him. All that the man wanted was a few honestly earned dollars to pay for life.
Feraydoon’s case made me think. So the Jews own America, help only each other? Why don’t they help this decent willing-to-work hard Jew? Maybe they don’t own America. Maybe the Jews are not the heartless bloodsuckers that their ill-wishers keep painting them. Well, Feraydoon is no bloodsucker. In fact he bled, like the two of us non-Jews, working like a dog for pennies. Feraydoon’s case convinced me that the allegations against the Jews are little more than a heap of hateful prejudice fabricated by the world’s too many overt and covert anti-Semites. I kept thinking.
And as for Jamshid and Feraydoon. Did they make a lot of money sticking with the delivery job? They wouldn’t say. The fact that they didn’t do it again after the second day, told me all I needed to know.
Me? I still had a whole summer ahead of me to do something to provide for the fall tuition, books expenses and the cost of living. These not so trivial matters kept me motivated to find work. And I did. Perhaps I’ll tell you about it.
But for now, I wish to leave you with a reflection on prejudice. Prejudice is the mental womb for hatred. And hatred is a consuming fire that devours everything in its path, often including the prejudiced person himself.
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