Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leon Learns About Thanksgiving

Here’s a picture of muh old pal Leon catching his first barracuda on a camping trip in 1995, just before the following events took place. He was at the beginning of an extended American sojourn when I met him, possibly the ritual Czech equivalent of a German’s Wanderjahre. Our first meeting coincided with my realization that I would never have to lift another heavy sheet of plywood again, if I were smart enough to hire someone else to do it for me. I employed Leon as casual labor for most of the following year.

When Thanksgiving came around I did my best to explain to him the nature of that beloved American holiday. I left out the political niceties of the Mayflower Compact, but touched on the story of the Pilgrims’ first year in America, how they had lost half their shipmates the first winter, but finally had harvested their first crop, and how they took time to thank God for their deliverance, and invited their native American neighbors to a meal which we still commemorate to this day.

And of course I invited him to spend the day with us, to enjoy a good meal, maybe watch some football, and to see what our custom was all about. His attitude surprised the heck out of me. He would have no part of it!

"In the first place, that means that I must to go one day with no pay, and this sucks. In the second place this sounds like some kind of religious fanaticism, and if that’s what you want, fine, just leave me out of it. I have been warned about this. If I cannot work, then I will go fishing."

He came to work the next day and quietly went about his duties. After a while he told the following story.

Yesterday I mad because no work. So I go fishing all morning. Then I go to get lunch. I see this guy Ricco who sell food from stand with umbrella by street. I go him and get sandwich and drink. I say, “ How much?” and he say me, “Nothing.”

I say, “Nothing? What for, this?” And he say me, one time on this day he have no food. He living on street in Miami. Someone feed him there. And he say, next time, when I can, I will give food away on this day. So every year he do same thing. So no pay.

“That’s pretty interesting,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Leon. “So now I know, what you mean.”

No comments: