My 9/11 Story
I have tweeted a few times in the past about seeing a Muslim guy who rides past my house on a hot pink bicycle. No matter how many times I see it, I always think to myself, “There is something I didn’t expect to see today.” I know he is a Muslim because he is always wearing his thawb and is always toting a Qur’an under his arm.
Yesterday, as I am sure you are all aware was September 11th, 2011. How could we forget right? Everywhere we looked there was information, memorials, sermons, and special programming about the big then year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
I don’t have a television. Friends of mine would complain about the media build up and promotion of their 9/11 specials over the course of the week and I would just shrug and say, “I haven’t seen it.” I was able to avoid the coverage without much effort.
But I climbed into my car yesterday and turned on NPR. They were amidst their discussion with a national news guy (maybe Ted Koppel) and I decided to listen. They made good points, discussed some of the days Op-Eds from various news outlets and were having a very good discussion.
It was so good, in fact, that I decided to continue to listen once I got home. For some time I sat in my car with the radio playing, just listening. Then I decided that I could be productive and clean out my car. I climbed out and walked around my car, climbed in the passenger side and started grabbing trash and cramming it in a plastic bag.
I had been doing this for about five minutes when in broken english I hear, “Are you a city worker?”
I spun around to see the Muslim on the pink bicycle.
I immediately felt uncomfortable (for some reason) listening to Ted Koppel talk to me about Muslim/American relations since 9/11 while standing there with a Muslim. I don’t know why, but I turned down my radio.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“I see in the papers that people who work for the city get money to live here. Is that you?” He asked.
“No, I don’t work for the city. I actually work up in Troy.”
“And the other white people who live here,” he gestured toward my house. “Do they work for the city?”
“No, we all work at the same place, actually.”
“You just want to live here?” He asked, but his expression didn’t change.
“Yes, we love the city and we like this neighborhood.”
“I like this neighborhood too. It is very nice, and it is very interesting that you come here,” he said with a smile.
I laughed. “Why is that?”
“No reason. What is it that you do in Troy?”
“We work for a church up there.”
“Ah, you are Christians?”
“Ah, I understand now.” He nodded.
“What about you?” I asked. “I see you come by here a lot. Where are you going?”
“Right now, I am going home.”
“Do you live close?”
“One block that way,” he said, pointing up Longfellow. “Now I must go, my mother will worry.”
I asked for his name. “Joseph,” he said. “I’m Cole.” We shook hands.
“Cole, we shall talk more.”
“Love to.” I said. And he peddled down the street.
We didn’t talk about 9/11. We didn’t discuss our faith or what we do at large, we just talked. We met each other, learned a little about each other, had a good exchange and left the door open to talk again. Our conversation wasn’t about our faith, our divisions anything like that. It was about what we have in common: we live in this city, we love this block, and that’s it.
I think that conversation was about as fitting a tribute as we could have hoped for yesterday.