Providence’s Pleasant Surprise

عبد الغاني بوشوار في الأحد 31 ديسمبر 2017

Providence’s Pleasant Surprise


I met an interesting eccentric part time professor in the department of philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington DC 12 years ago. He was teaching a course on the human present condition and the future destiny of humanity. He related to me an interesting story about coincidences  and an amazing anecdote. I am happy to share with you my memory of that little story.

It was a new year’s eve day while he was reading on such topics as grace, the abysmal  state of the world , the extaordinay wealth at the hands of the very few and the abject living conditions of the many that his story took place. His meagee income hardly lasts him to the end of the month he said, let alone having enough to pay for a caffé latte at a Starbucks coffee shop.

He did not seem to worry too much about his next meal or his tobacco consumption. He always cooked his one meal a day void of any meat but could go without anything all day at times. The few dollars in his pocket were calculated and reserved for tansportion to and fro campus. He would not let his doctoral students loose the opportunity to debate the geat ideas of the wise about the human condition. He would not want to miss either the only opportunity to engage and provoke intelligent minds and learn from them. He considered his classes as his only attachment to honest rationality and intellectual sanity.

None of his students was aware of his material down to earth conditions for their relationship was strictly on the intellectual level and rational discourse. None of them would realize that the professor did not have lunch that day whose story he was relating to me because he would have no dollars left to come to class and go home were he to buy lunch. Being with students, to him, was more important than eating which he could not afford anyway.

On that new year’s eve day, he came home on the last underground transpotation he could pay for with only 50 cents left in his pocket. While he was doing his readings, one of his friends whose generosity he appreciated before gave him a call and asked if he were free to go for a coffee. He readily and happily accepted the invitation and went out thinking how nice to have a free cup of coffee and an interesting conversation with a friend. That kind of a break was his cup of tea.That day, he was relating, he talked to no one, had no coffee and had only boiled rice for lunch. It already crossed his mind to call this very friend to ask for a $20 bucs loan.

They both went to the neighborhood Starbucs retaurant few miles away from his shelter. Their conversation went from topic to topic and from joke to joke. Suddenly, his friend realized it was time to go home for dinner with the guests of his wife but insisted to also pay for a take home sandwith for him.

Dinner wass garanteed though he did not plan for it  or had in mind to eat anything else that evening. what a welcome surprise, he said. On the way to drop him home, his friend promised to take him out for lunch next day, but quickly realized that he would be on duty as the head engineer of a meat factory in one the suburbs of DC.

The professor thought, oh my god if he could only think of kindly handing me the amount that he intended to spend on our lunch. In a split sencond, before his thinking hit its theshold, his friend reached out to his pocket and handed him a $20 dollar bill and said to him « here , why don’t you go out and have a good luch tomorrow ».

The professor then told his friend : » this is amazing. You read my mind. It did actually cross my mind to ask you for a little loan in this amount, but I did not and here it is . I can have fun tomorrow thanks to your generosity. »

Thinking about this coincidence, the professor could not belive or understand how providence behaves. His couses and debabes with his students, he tought, have strengthened his tolerence and fortitude vis à vis the turbulent cicunstances of living !

I listened attentively to his story. And I thought,  wow, here is America, the richest country in the world, and here is a destitute intellectual pondering on the human condition and searching for answers to its turbulant circumstances and yet he is not guaranteed a decent livelihood,what a precarious condition to be in ? I asked him to try other avenues for suvival. He told me not to believe that it is easy or think that racism and discrimination don’t exist in America at all levels. « Even academia is full of bullshit and double talk,especially if your origins are from the south », he said.

I had to go to take my kids to the dentist appointment. I paid for the coffee and the pastry and a take away sandwith for the professor and I pulled out a $20 dollar bill from my pocket and gently put it  on his lap and said : »Have fun tomorrow, my friend ». He thanked me and said : »Does history repeat itslf ? »I replied : »I have no idea, but where is America going ? ».

Dr. Bouchouar

Agadir, Peaceful Morocco

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