Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Nation of Islam Friend

Seventeen years ago, my built in 1929 house was in need of painting.  I was not interested in accomplishing this task myself, so I went in search of a painter.  I cannot quite recall how I was introduced to the man who ended up painting my house, but he was more than just a painter.  His name was S____, and he was one hard working individual.  When I met with S to discuss what needed to be done to properly prepare my house for fresh paint, he informed me that unless the myriad of layers of old paint were removed from the house, he could not guarantee that the fresh paint applied would have staying power.

S ended up blowtorching, hose at the ready, all the layers of old paint from my cedar shingle sided home over a two month period, then applying primer, and two final coats.  Except for couple of spots on my house, that paint job still looks quite fresh.

Due to S’s diligence in painting my house, he received a number of other painting jobs in my neighborhood, so I would see him from time to time and we would chat.  Then, for a couple of years, I lost track of S, until one day, while driving in the inner city, I saw him hawking Nation of Islam papers on a street corner.  I pulled over and said hello.  S greeted me like an old friend, and avowed he needed to stop by my house to inspect the integrity of his work, which he did, and not just this one time.  After this reconnection, I’d see S once or twice a year.  He’d just show up in my driveway to check his work and chat for a bit, and I would still occasionally see him hawking those Nation of Islam papers on inner city street corners.

Anyway, last night, while the Lovely Melis and I sat on the front porch, who should drive up but S, who we once again had lost track of for a couple of years.  I was pleased to see him, and stepped off my porch to shake his hand and embrace him.  S apologized to me that it had been some time since he had stopped by to inspect his handiwork, and asked if he could do a walk around.  Naturally I agreed, and walked with him around the house pointing to areas where I knew I had peeling paint problems, which were not due to any lack of attention to detail on S’s part when he had painted the house.

As we stood in my backyard talking, after completing the walkaround, I said to S, “So, S, you’re quite evidently a member of the Nation of Islam, what do you think of some of things Louis Farrakhan says about Jews, Whites, and America?”  S’s response to me was quite what I expected.  S said, “I don’t care what you are, Black, White, Red, Jew, I’m gonna look at you as an individual, and if you’re treating me like an individual, if you’re treating me right, I’m gonna treat you right.  I’m S, not the Nation of Islam.”

S disavows the group label, and chooses instead to live by the golden rule.  I’m glad he stopped by, he is my Nation of Islam friend.

Posted by John Venlet on 07/12 at 07:39 AM
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