My friend Tony, who works at my nail salon, gives me a reality check and a great leg massage at the same time. He loves to talk while he’s practicing his art, and we’ve had some great conversations.
One day, he started our exchange of ideas by telling me that he “Loves being in America.” In addition to his day job at the nail salon, he goes to the community college and studies computer science. Tony loves talking to customers, and to people in general, because it affords him the opportunity to work on his English language skills. They all speak Vietnamese at his home here with his Uncle and Cousin.
There was a particular time that he told me of the experience he had on his first day in America…his new country. Tony stepped onto American soil in California, filled with awe and anticipation. He was really hungry, and couldn’t wait to eat a cheeseburger. He went so far as to go to the fast food restaurant. He had a twenty dollar bill in his hand. The thing is, that twenty dollar bill was all the money he had in his new country. He really, really wanted that cheeseburger, but he knew that he just couldn’t swing it. So he went hungry for a while, eating frugally until he saved up enough to buy a cheeseburger.
He’s a naturalized US citizen now, and can eat a cheeseburger when he wants to. When he went for his interview to gain his citizenship, they asked him if he loved the United States. He told them “Of course I love America, that’s why I couldn’t wait to get here! I love America!”
If you were born in the good old U.S.A., then you probably take the good things about being an American for granted. I know I do. It’s easy to get caught up in the cynicism. It’s easy to get annoyed by 24 hour election coverage, especially when a lot of people don’t like their choice of candidates. I just can’t imagine going any place else in the world with the equivalent of twenty dollars and making a go of it.
I’m so glad to be an American, and I feel so blessed to have Tony as a friend!