JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

George

Sitting here in the Panera on Central Avenue. Just had a lengthy conversation with George, who was on his break.

George walks around cleaning the tables here. He seems like a quiet man content to go about his work. George told me he just arrived in America from India with his wife and son four months ago. He was working at KFC down the road, but didn’t much care for it. He said he always smelled like chicken, and the place wasn’t as clean as Panera.

George has never seen snow, and he’s excited. He’s also never felt such cold (it’s about 35 degrees today). George is probably, oh, 55, and I’m sure in India he was a well-educated man with a better job. But “better job” in India isn’t “better job” in America.

I love guys like George, because they’re authentic and real and genuine. He’s here to support himself and his family, and he’ll wipe down 1,000 tables if need be. I sit here, and watch the high schools kids make their messes; the soccer moms make their messes; the construction guys make their messes—and George is invisible to them.

He’s not invisible to me.