"I am study English"
"Hello" I said, "Marhaba, ani mulazem Adam, tasharafna"(Hello, my name is LT Adam, nice to meet you.) He beamed, but left me wondering if he had understood my tortured attempt at Arabic. I tried again in English,"How long have you worked for the bus company?"
"4 months" he said, and lifting a thick, calloused finger into the air, he punctuated his thoughts. "Before, I work in Turkey, for five year, Saudi Arabia for seven year, Iraq, for seven year, and Kuwait, again for five year."
Stopping, he turned and reached into a crumpled plastic bag kept at the foot of his leather drivers seat. Sitting up, he pulled out a stack of folded papers, each neatly lettered in English with painstaking precision. He shuffles thru the stack of papers. "I am study English" he announced, and he looked thru the paperwork again. "I have one son," and with this, he looked anxiously up, inspecting my face to see if his English was acceptable.
I smiled, and he glanced back down at his tightly clutched papers. I could see that the papers were frayed around the corners from use, and that they were a sort of Turkish-English phrase book that he had compiled in his careful handwriting.
Finally, he found the phrase he had been looking for. "I want to go to America, two years." He looked up and with determination in his eyes, he exclaimed, "I want to live there." He looked almost embarassed for a moment at the ferocity in his voice, and he quickly looked down, muttering over his phrase book.
As he did so, I could not help but reflect that I had no doubt, that he would somehow manage to fulfill his dream of living in America.