The Karachi Kid smiled at me through the window of the shop as I left for the day.
It was a wide smile, too wide I thought, and his eyes twinkled mischievously.
When I first met the Karachi Kid, he was a shy 20-year-old who had come to Campbell River from Karachi, Pakistan. At first I thought he simply didn’t like me. But I soon learned it was just that he was extremely shy, embarrassed about his English. And in the copy shop business, face time with customers is imperative.
Eventually he warmed to me, partly because I took the time to correct his English. And partly because he realized I liked to have fun in the workplace. And partly because I answered ALL the phone calls.
His English has improved immensely. And I help him with his studies during breaks at work. He works sometimes at the copy shop, sometimes at the Royal Coachman serving and washing dishes and in his ‘spare’ time he does his studies at the Robron Centre. He wants to be a radiologist.
We became friends. He is one-third my age and I realized I could use my vast years of experience to help him. I have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various fields and I decided the most important thing in my life was to impart that vast and professional expertise to this young man.
So that morning I patted him on the back and said, “Good job.”
He smiled and said, “Thanks Neil.”
I checked to see that the 8.5- by 11-inch piece of paper that said “NEIL IS GREAT” was securely fastened to his back by the Scotch tape.
The rest of the morning was filled with customers who noticed the sign and all respected my finger to my mouth saying “Shhh.” It was a morning for glorious giggling.
Eventually my poster on the Karachi Kid’s back came free and fell to the floor. He picked it up and looked at it.
“That is funny,” he said. “How long was it on my back?”
“All morning,” I said.
And for the rest of the afternoon the Karachi Kid came up and patted my back saying. “Good job Neil!” And every time I would reach back and pull off the sign that said “SHAYAN IS GREAT!”
He eventually gave up, or so I thought.
I was thinking of that as I looked back at him smiling out from the office window when I left that day. I reached to see if he had somehow attached a ‘SHAYAN IS GREAT’ sign to my back. He hadn’t.
I proceeded to my car and beeped the unlocking mechanism and looked back.
To my surprise Shayan was bolting out the door and sprinting across the parking lot. He was coming right at me, in full run, his eyes wide in terror, his mouth no longer smiling. He veered to the right, towards a car two spots away. It was a silver sedan, much like mine, but this one had post-it notes and larger signs that read, “SHAYAN IS GREAT” stuck on all the windows.
The Karachi Kid speedily ripped them off and headed back towards the shop. After stifling my laughs, I shouted out, “Who’s great?”
The Karchi Kid frowned at first and then smiled, “Neil is great,” he said and walked back into the shop.
The next morning we greeted each as usual, with a fist pump and a hug.
I asked him, “You okay about yesterday?”
He said, “Yes, it was very funny.”
He returned to his workstation. The first customer of the day came in. I took his order and turned my back to him to start writing it up.
“Who is Shayan and why is he great?” he asked.