My Muslim bodyguards

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Posted by chelsea 1 comments

I felt as if I was living through an episode (or several) of Seinfeld today. First with the waking up from the call to prayer and then at work I had to spend no less than three hours being the go-between for my boss* (a brilliant man who sometimes has difficultly communicating his ideas) and a coffee appliance repair man that talked way too loudly, and then later as I walked back from work I had the most interesting and reassuring run-in with my newest neighborhood acquaintance.

*Side note* Did I mention I have a job working at an authentic French cafe/coffee shop a few blocks away that just opened? Well, I do. I found the job four days after moving here and as luck would have it, was only the second full-time employee hired (the cafe just opened a few weeks ago). I make crepes, Belgian waffles and French sandwiches as well as brew excellent coffee and espresso that is roasted right here in Philadelphia. I love working in a place that feels like it's straight out of Europe.

So on my way back from work this evening I ran into one of the nice men that either works or just hangs out in the barbershop I live above. His name is Adbur and he's a sweet middle-aged Muslim who eagerly introduced himself to me a few days ago after I'd been waving at him every time I walked by the barbershop for the last few weeks.

He asked how my day had gone and told me a little about the festivities that had gone on in the streets while I was away at work and then got very serious and leaned in close to tell me what appeared to be something incredibly important. What he proceeded to say not only surprised me, but delighted me to no end.

I'll paraphrase: "Dear sweet girl, I just want you to know that up and down these blocks are good Muslim people who have taken notice of your move here. Two of them live in your building, and then there is the group of us at the barbershop nearly every day. I want you to know that if anyone ever so much as looks at you wrong, we will be there for you. We watch out for each other, and you are part of our family here now. You may not feel like you fit in around here, but we want you to know that we're here for you, and we'll be here to watch out for you as long as you live here. You just let me or any of us know if we can be of help to you in any way and we will do whatever we can. We all look out for each other, that's just the way it is. You have a blessed night dear, and keep on smiling like you do."

I walked the last half a block back to my apartment with a huge grin on my face and couldn't help but chuckle with delight to myself. If I'd ever had doubts about living in the city alone, they had all just melted away.

I love my neighborhood.