Friday, October 01, 2004
The Pizza Guy
Tonight I was in charge of setting up a 'movie night' for our staff. This involved reserving the small tent theater on base as well as ordering food. I decided to order 12 pizzas from the Pizza Hut on base. We all decided to watch 'Dodge Ball', so pizza seemed appropriate and was the easiest thing to buy. As luck would have it, 45 minutes prior to the start of the movie the generator that ran the food court broke down, leaving us totally in the dark.
As Civil Engineering desperately tried to repair it (thanks in part to our Commander who wanted his Pizza ASAP) I sat down with some of the employees of the Pizza Hut outside. They turned out to be some pretty cool people to chat with. The two managers were from Egypt, and they worked for a Kuwaiti company that set up fast food and pizza places up all around the Middle-East. They hadn't been home in 2+ years, so one of them was about to leave to visit his family within the week. They both gave me some good insight into what Egypt is like compared to the rest of the Middle East. They were both Christian, and were proud of the fact that you could worship any religion in Egypt without fear of persecution. They stressed to me the fact that Egyptians were not Arabs, and that even though there was poverty in their country, there was also opportunity for many to succeed. You can't say that about many countries in the Middle East. Nearly all of them have systems that don't allow people to go from being poor to having wealth, and the middle class is far out of reach for the poor. Egypt seems to be different like that. Just like the Iraqis and Jordanians I've met, they too hate Saudi Arabians. To them Saudis are vile, inhuman creatures who you should never go around. I wonder why so many people in the region think dislike Saudi Arabians?
After nearly an hour and a half chatting away, the power came back on and they made the Pizzas quickly. I ended up missing most of the movie, and all of the pizza disappeared before I could even get a slice, but my conversation with the two employees were much more rewarding than any of that. We shared stories, found that we knew mutual jokes (or things to joke about) in our societies, and treaded very lightly around politics... touching the topic just enough to gauge one another's political thoughts. Once again we were all in agreement.
I walked away that night very grateful for meeting such good people, and happy that I was once again able to have a good conversation with people who were so different than I. It was nice to hear non-Western opinions about food, family, religion, politics, and women.
posted by El Capitan at 1:52 AM