Coming to America
America has taught me one important lesson. In life, you never know when a disaster will strike!
It was drizzling in Orlando, Florida that night. When I pulled into the parking lot at my friend ‘s apartment around 10.36pm. My friend Watson lived barely four blocks away from Universal Studios.
As I drove across town, I rehearsed my speech out loud in my car. I could see myself on stage in Toronto, Canada in two days with a fine smile. As those beautiful thoughts swirled through my mind, I parked and got out of my car to pick up my travel items: my luggage, hard copy of my speech, my sleek Asus laptop, grey suit, and yes my gold-plated nail-clip.
Unbeknownst to me, as I stepped out of my 2003 Nissan Sentra, I saw two young black teenagers with basketball hoods running toward me. As they got closer, one of them said, “Get down! Get down!” The other pulled out a pistole and pointed it to my head at very close range. His finger was on the trigger!
A cold sweat ran through my back. I was speechless, petrified, and terrified with fear. In my desperation, I offered a plea, “Guys, take, take my wallet, and take the money, but please, return my Driver ’s License.”
One of them grabbed the wallet and my car keys, the other guy shoved me to the side. In that split second, they jumped into my car, and backed out and sped off into the drizzling darkness. I stood there dripping in tears of fear and speechlessness.
In less than 70 seconds, I was dispossessed of my car. It was my first car ever. My first epitome of the American dream had just vanished like smoke. I was broken, so broken I was numb and did not immediately know what to do.
A while later, I called the police, still trembling. With the trembling voice, I called 911 to report the assault. I recall the office asking me, “What is your name?”
I replied, “It was two black kids?”
“Two black kids, is that your name?”
“No, my name is ———— “Gideon.”
“How do the hijackers look like?”
Instead of saying they were wearing basketball hoodies, I accidentally said, “They were wearing basketball helmets.”
The officer asked, “Do you mean basketball hoodies or helmets?”
At that point I noticed that I was disintegrating under the weight of that crime, little did I know it was the start of a new awkward journey for me. About a month after that incident, I went into a Haitian bakery to buy freshly baked bread one evening around 5.30. After making payments, I turned around saw two black men with basket ball hoodies standing by the door. I suddenly felt like a thunder bolt struck through my heart. Immediately, I sprang out and started racing back to my apartment like a stallion.
For a distance of over 1 mile, I never looked back. With every single step I took, I felt like the hoodie men were chasing me down and closing in on me. That evening, am sure I shattered Roger Banister ’s world record of running a mile under 4 minutes. I am very certain even the fastest Nascar driver could not catch me that night.
After I bolted my door, I knelt down I prayed so hard for my safety in America. Though I was born and raised in a third world country, I had never felt so much in danger. Never. For some strange reason, I thought those hoodie men were standing by my door. Needless to say, that night, I slept hungry!
As I think back to those difficult years in Orlando, Florida, I now realize that I was running away from my own imaginary fears. Do you have any imaginary fears? Even these days, sometimes, I still have sweaty palms and flashbacks relating to that Orlando ordeal.
That incident taught me that what scares you most, is often not a ghost. In my case, it was not a ghost. It was the ghost of my ghost. America has taught me one important lesson. In life, you never know when a disaster will strike!