Mohammed comes from Cairo in Egypt. I met him in my village square where I was looking for a handy man to work in my plantation. The job involved collecting olives from the olive trees. A job common in my hometown. I arrived late as usual, since I had to…escpape, from the city because I could not obtain for easy a leave from my main job this period. In the square where I met Mohammed was the usual, unofficial, unionist, who told me bluntly:
“Take him at this price” (yes the price was expensive).
I felt helpless like a poor boss, driven by those dark skinned unionists. However, I made a virtue of necessity and hired him. Mohammed did not speak Greek and was tall and thin. In addition to the language barrier, Mohammed’s problems were many. I had to show him every single task he had to do. That took us more than half the day. Basically, communication was by gestures. At some points, Mohammed pronounced some Arabic words such as Allah, Ramadan, etc. I knew from experience that during this period of December, the Muslim celebrated Ramadan, a period of fasting. Consequently, if you hire an Arab worker, he will not eat nor drink before sunset, this could be a disadvantage for any …boss like me. Usually the worker gets really hungry dehydrated and weak during the afternoon hours.
More problems also occurred… Five times a day, Mohammed took a linen bag, knelt on the ground and began prayers to Allah. But there was usually an orientation problem, Mohammed made his prayers to the sea side, which in this area is always in the north (sic).I had to explain to Mohammed out of inexplicable tenderness that if he wanted to pray to Mecca, he had to change his direction to the east because from this side was only Slavic and Germanic people. After many trials, I managed to teach him. The whole day was spent, well almost the whole day, the time was four o’clock. Collecting olives was far behind schedule and I hoped that we would have a more productive hour until five. My mistake, because Mohammed then made a gesture that all proletarians in our hard world know. He showed me the Watch on his left hand. Eight to four, I translate for you the gesture, stop working. I immediately understood the implication and obediently began to gather equipment. Another busy day has an end. I paid the bitter wages set by the…unionist, with my hard Euro, and I made an appointment for the next day.
Mauve dusk anymore, and I drove the car in rural way back, I was watching Muhammad stoic and silent, perhaps he was thinking of dinner, as his good Lord makes it possible to eat everything he wants after sunset. Well, if I want to tell you the truth,as newly established and subsidized capitalist farmer, I thought he should be sacked immediately. But then I do not know how, if it is by sensitivity or pride, I felt sorry for the thin young man from Cairo. I began to speculate about his family, the apparent poverty and illiteracy, he was a kid who was thrown without supplies onto this hard planet to survive. And finally I thought:
”Anyway I will not ever become a boss. Let’s keep him.”
And I told you this story to explain why I never became boss … And to tell you, also, that Mohammed might be protesting now, united with one million others, somewhere in Tahrir Square, in Cairo in Egypt. Claiming a place under the sun of this world. Good luck Mohammed.