Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Conversation with Guy LeCri

Whoosh goes the big glass door to the concrete lab as the Geo-tech, Bob, puts his right shoulder into the door this afternoon. As Bob enters the dark lab, he walks to the cylinder stripping bay with a set of six gray concrete cylinders and bends over setting them down. Adjusting himself to an upright position, he sees two eyes peering at him from the chair next to the table where the cylinders are stressed tested.

"Guy, is that you?" Bob asks startlingly.
"Oui, it is me," says Guy in an evil chuckle.
"What are doing?" inquires Bob.
"Eating my lunch, what did you think I was doing?" responds Guy.
"I don't know, I can't see you," says Bob, "Why are you eating in the dark."
"It is more peaceful," replies Guy.
"Well, Okay then," affirms Bob as he turns toward the wooden door heading to the project managers' offices.
"Where are you going?" asks Guy.
"To update Ova Nova on the project," replies Bob.

Upon hearing that Bob was about to leave the lab to see the project manager, Ova Nova, Guy becomes extremely quiet. Bob had known Guy for a long time and knew this was Guy's way of asking him to stay because he had something to discuss. Guy Lecri had come many years ago from French speaking West Africa and spoke slowly because he always translated what he was hearing into French for better clarity. This was a source of frustration for alot of Americans, but Bob was always patient and paid attention no matter how busy he was.

"Guy, Did you want to talk to me?" asks Bob tensely.
"No," replies Guy.
"Are you sure?" asks Bob.
"Oui," nods Guy.
"Okay, then I'm going to see Ova Nova." says Bob emphatically.

Bob starts to leave while having the feeling that Guy is watching him. The silence is noticeable and thick. When it is thick, Bob knows that Guy does not just want to talk to him, but needs to talk to him. Bob stops at the wooden door and turns around.

"Okay, say it," says Bob frustratingly.
"Say what," says a puzzled Guy.
"Just say whatever you want to," replies Bob.
" Are you sure you have the time?" asks Guy.
"I do," says Bob.

Bob leans against the lightly colored, wooden cabinet where the nuclear, soil gauges are stored, while Guy stares down at his lunch on the table. Bob lays his black XX Engineering bag on the floor, and Guy pushes his green office chair backwards from the table. They look at each other,and Guy smiles.

" Do you remember, last week, when I came to the site to pick up the masonry prisms," says Guy.
"I do," replies Bob chuckling.
"And I forgot what you told me about going to the visitor's center," says Guy.
"Yes," says Bob.
"Instead I went to the gate, and the soldier stopped me," says Guy nervously.
"Yeah, that is when you called me, and I talked to the soldier on the cell," replies Bob.
"Yes, you do remember, and you told the soldier that I was confused and that I needed to wait at the visitors center for my escort, Sea-dog" says Guy.
"Uh, huh," says Bob tiredly.
"Then Sea-dog came, and the soldier was really mad at him...," says Guy.
"He was?" laughs Bob.
"Yes, He told him that he was responsible for my mistake, and he reprimanded him harshly," says Guy.
"That's okay. Sea-dog's probably used to getting chewed on, now and then," says Bob with a big grin.
"Then Sea-dog escorts me to the parking lot to turn me over to you, but you aren't there," says Guy.
"You know I went to get us value meals," says Bob.
"I know. Then you come back, and I say lets get this done quick so I can get outta here and back to Ova. And you say, 'screw Ova.' Do you remember?" asks Guy.
"I do," laughs Bob.
"This is big in the culture that I was raised...," Guy says emphatically.
"What, value meals are big in your culture," says Bob mockingly.

With just that one comment, the silence becomes thick, once more. Now, the silence is very thick, and Bob realizes that he just stepped on Guy's feelings like a child playing hopscotch. The silence is getting exponentially thicker by the second, and Bob knows he has to apologize.

"You know, Guy, the value meals are important to me because they are important to you," says Bob.
"Thank you," says Guy.
"Many years ago when I was younger, my country was in a civil war. Do you know what civil war is?" asks Guy.
"Yeah, we had one around 1860," replies Bob.
"But you really don't know what one is, do you?" asks Guy.
"I guess you are right. I don't know what it is like to have your hometown occupied by an enemy," says Bob.
"Exactly. But during this period, soldiers from one side occupied my village,"says Guy.
"Which side?" asks Bob.
"What does it matter, which side. One side," replies Guy.
"And they rounded up everyone in the village. Some were taken prisoner, some forced to work,and some were terminated. Me, I was forced to work as a messenger. And I did it to save the lives of mon père et ma mère" says Guy

Bob walks over to the coffee pot on the table in front of the glass door, and pours himself a cup. He kicks a gray office chair over to the gang box, which is next to the glass door. Reaching into his pocket he pulls out a cigarette and walks over to the chair with the coffee and cigarette in hand. Noticing the "No Smoking" sign as the faintest rays of sunlight hit it, he sits and props his feet on to the gang box while lighting his cigarette. Guy starts laughing.

"Go on, Guy, go on," encourages Bob.
"Well, one day the other side catches me, and I am taken prisoner," says Guy.
"That can't be good." says Bob as he puffs the cigarette.
"No, they tortured me." says Guy in a low voice.
"How did the torture you?" asks Bob.
"What does it matter, the word torture should be descriptive enough. And then I escaped." says Guy.
"Then, you came to America?" asks Bob.
"Then I come to America and get asylum." says Guy.
"Good, " says Bob.

Bob walks over to the glass door, opens it, and flicks the butt over the back porch. Guy grabs the trash from his lunch and throws it into the large gray trashcan next to the table. Guy places both his hands on the trash can, and looks into it.

"Until last week, I have never seen anything in America that reminded of those days in my original country," explains Guy.
"But, last week brought all of those memories back, right?" inquires Bob.
"Yeah, except that you and Sea-dog were there, and the soldier was very good." says Guy.
"You mean disciplined," corrects Bob.
"I mean disciplined, and that was the one good thing I learned last week." says Guy.

Bob smiles at Guy and waves as he walks to Ova's office, and Guy turns to finish his work, stress testing concrete cylinders. Bob is walking and thinking about the enlightenment that Guy had just showed him about West African culture. While Bob is walking, Guy is testing cylinders and thinking about the knowledge that he had gained in the week prior about his new country, America.

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