On one of my regular tours around the City of Manhattan, New York, the world’s most glamorous cities to visit the headquarters of CBS, a mass media company that creates and distributes industry leading content across a variety of platforms to audiences around the world on 52nd Street, my attention was drawn to a familiar Liberian English spoken gentlemen puffing his cigarette glued between his fingers.
He stood around the historic Madison Square Garden watching the movements of dozens of people, many of who are believed to be tourists and shoppers on their usual shopping and touristic journeys around the city of Manhattan.
Being warned by friends and relatives upon my arrival in the United States of how to be careful coming across people who I do not know in the streets of New York, I cautiously moved a step forward as my unexpected New Yorker friend began to greet me in Liberian spoken English.
His friendly greetings drove away that emotional fright that had earlier overshadowed me bumping into someone who wants to befriend me; pondering over as to what should have happen if his action towards me was to the contrary.
Thanks to God, I was not attack by this guy even though he did not appear as such, but I was doing all to listen to the security advises earlier provided by my friends and relatives as to how I move around New York, the City that never sleeps and other U.S. cities while in that country.
As we drew closer to each other with resound confidence among us and introducing ourselves from which part of Liberia each of us come from, he began to tell me how he came to the United States, and why he is still there without a job and family.
“You see my brother”, he continued, “I came in this country 35 years ago in 1981 as member of the Liberia seamen union through the Bureau of Maritime. I used to live at St. Paul Bridge, Bushrod Island, I have traveled all over the world from ship to ship, especially those ships that carried the flags of Liberia.”
“Now as I speak to you my brother I am frustrated; no money and no family. What I do here is from hand to mouth; washing cars in the streets. I can’t go home because nothing I have,” my New Yorker friend whose name has been conceived for some reason told me.
My New Yorker friend is just one of those many Liberians in the United States and other parts of the world who cannot afford to go home due to the lack of nothing to take back home after years of staying away from their country.
Explaining more of his predicament in New York, he said he is only living at the mercy of God, stressing, “My brother I can even afford to pay bills including housing and others, I sleep in the streets, and sometimes in abandoned vehicles. I standing here washing for people who will help me with at least fifty cent or a dollar. It is not easy,” he told me.
After spending nearly an hour with my friend, and placing a five dollars bill in his hand, I later took off for my journey to see the beauty of the world’s busiest city, New York.