A Savage Man
It was a few minutes after noon, my shift at my part-time job was over. I was excitedly heading out into the sunlight and though eager for the licks of the late summer sun, paused for a few seconds for my usual exchange with Jude, the guard at the door. “You’re done for the day?” He asked in a tone and look of surprise. Although my shifts are often over by noon and it really ought not surprise him at all, Jude always manages to act surprised when he sees me leaving for the day. I replied that he was correct and asked about his health. “By the grace of God, I’m well” was his response, as it often is. I stood and beamed at him and said I would be seeing him, to which he merrily responded, with a little wave of the hand, “See you, sister!” Jude has been calling me sister ever since I told him I am Ghanaian. He is Nigerian.
As I made my exit I noticed a woman trying to get out, too, pushing a shopping cart from another store. I kept the door opened for her while she struggled to force the cart through the magnetic field that made it difficult for customers to take out the store’s shopping carts.When she made it out, I let the door go and was turning to head into the sunshine but she had positioned herself directly in front of me in the shade of the building's entrance and was saying something. “He is rude!” She says to me in very crisp words, motioning with her eyes in Jude’s direction. Not waiting for any inquiries she continued talking. She had brought the foreign cart to the store and Jude was against her using it so she had left it near the exit until she was ready to leave. But he had behaved badly towards her. Spoken to her very rudely and had been unwilling to cooperate or be of any help. Although I could understand how she could perceive his tone as rude, I could not believe he had treated her in the manner that she professed. Jude like many Nigerians, have a seemingly sharp way of speaking which seems owing to the tone of their languages. But Jude also has a very smily face. He seems to be always in a very good mood and quite happy about something. I wondered that she did not notice this pleasantness in him.
But the woman was not done. “They are the lowest of the low, these savages!” She informs me. “They always revere us as tourists in their African countries but when they come here they treat us with disrespect because they are envious!” Her words neither surprised nor offended me. Obviously she was hurt. But it was even likely that her attacks had very little to do with Jude, there’s probably some long story there. Besides Wordsworth has taught me to think fondly of the savage and I do not think it unkind to be considered uncivilized. The woman had placed herself above Jude and could, therefore, not appreciate the behavior of his, which challenged the notion of her superiority.
What she was claiming a problem did not appear as such, but there was no reason to tell her this. I apologized for Jude. I was sorry he acted towards her that way, I told her. I pleaded that she would not let his behavior get to her. But she looked at me and hurriedly said something about being bothered all the same. Not knowing what else to do, I gave her what I hoped was a polite smile and walked away, out of the shade and into the delightful late summer sun.