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The first time I spotted her, I was working at this big grocery store in the East End. Ottawa is a boring town but fellas like me know how to make our own fun. The key is having an open mind and seizing opportunities when they come your way. Working as overnight security isn’t the most glamorous job in the universe but it does pay the bills. I’m in my third year as a Criminology student at Carleton University, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Anyhow, I was walking through the aisles, bored as hell, when I spotted her. This curvaceous, light-skinned Black woman clad in a long flowery summer dress and dark blue hijab. She was Somali, and in her early thirties. I saw her arguing with Evelyn, the old White woman who works as the overnight cashier. Evelyn is racist as hell and always gives a hard time to minority customers. I complained about her to her boss, but it only got me in trouble with the security company. That’s life in Canada for you.
Anyhow, I approached the scene to get a better look. The attractive Somali lady was arguing about something with the old bat, who didn’t speak a lick of French. I was born in the island of Haiti and even after living outside of it for most of my life, I still speak both Parisian French and my native Haitian Creole. I casually walked over to the self-check-out stand and offered my services. The old White lady shot me a frustrated look and asked me to “deal with her”. Now, helping customers with the machines and their purchases isn’t a function of overnight security staff but in this case, I was okay with making an exception. I helped the Somali lady with the bilingual machine, and helped her scan her stuff. I even helped her put them in the green bags she bought, and helped her load them in the cart. She smiled at me and thanked me, then asked me where I was from. I proudly told her that I was a native of Haiti. She smiled and shot a dark look at the old White female cashier, saying that she ought to be fired. I smiled as I seconded that opinion. My job would be much easier if I didn’t have to deal with the likes of Evelyn on a nightly basis.
The Somali lady pushed her cart to the exit, and I accompanied her to the parking lot. Before she left, she asked me my name. Jacques, I told her. She grinned and introduced herself as Mona, before offering her hand for me to shake. Now, if you know anything about conservatively attired Muslim women who wear the hijab, you’d be as shocked as I was by her action. Nevertheless, I shook Mona’s hand, and wished her a goodnight. I watched her go, mesmerized. Black women are the most beautiful creatures on God’s green Earth. Unfortunately for me, I’m not Black enough for some of them güvenilir bahis and that’s a damn shame. As I mentioned before, I was born in the island of Haiti to a Haitian father and Hispanic mother. My mom came from the Dominican Republic. I stand six feet two inches tall, slightly chubby, with light brown skin, curly Black hair and light brown eyes. People are always asking me if I’m mixed but I always tell them that I am Black. My parents, Louis Bernard and Maria Fernandez-Bernard live in the town of Montreal, Quebec. We moved from Haiti to Canada eleven years ago. I have a thing for Black women, especially the exotic-looking ones from east Africa. I’m talking about Eritrean women, Ethiopian women, Somali women and Djibouti women. Unfortunately for me, these ladies tend to stick with men from their own cultures. That’s a damn shame if you ask me.
Anyhow, the night went by and I barely paid attention to the comings and goings of the men and women inside the grocery store. We have a lot of thieves who come by at night. One of them especially irks me. A short, blonde-haired White woman in her forties who likes to steal cheese. She’s usually accompanied by a male accomplice, a tall and slim, dark-haired Caucasian guy on a bike. I’ve busted these two numerous times and they still come into the grocery store to steal. During the two months since I started working security at this grocery store, I busted a lot of thieves and almost all of them were White. Isn’t that a kick in the butt? The clerks and cashiers inside the store are always weary of minorities because the Vanier area of eastern Ottawa is a tough neighborhood but I’ve yet to catch a Black person or a Chinese person stealing from the store. It’s mostly White folks doing the stealing. Kind of turns racial profiling on its head, doesn’t it?
I work the 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. shift at the grocery store, and I only chose this shift because the store is conveniently located ten minutes from my apartment. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother with this shit. Finally, it’s seven in the morning. If I leave the store one minute early, that bitch Evelyn is going to report me to the store manager, and I’m going to get in trouble. Again. I still need this job to pay my rent and groceries, so I can’t afford another screw-up. I walk to my apartment, praying that my new roommate, a Burundi guy named Valentine, will let me sleep. He knows that I work overnight and sleep in the morning. If he keeps preventing me from sleeping, I’m going to have to get rid of him. Especially since he doesn’t seem to do his groceries too often or pay rent on time. The guy’s got parasitic tendencies, for real. Anyhow, I go home and for once, valentine isn’t türkçe bahis moving around and I get a nice, deep sleep. I wake up around 1 P.M. feeling well-rested. I head to the kitchen and eat some leftover Shawarma beef sandwiches and wash them down with orange juice. I shower, then get dressed and head to school.
It’s 1 : 45 P.M. when I catch the bus number 9 heading to Hurdman Station. From there, I catch bus 4 heading to Carleton University. While on the bus, I read today’s Metro and read about Obama’s dwindling chances in the U.S. election. If he’d toughen up when dealing both with the Arabs who attacked the U.S. Embassies and his archrival Mitt Romney, he’d have a better chance in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections. I’m just saying. America is still a mostly Christian albeit secular-minded and democratic nation. Its citizenry isn’t comfortable watching its leader bow down to the Muslims. Anyhow, good luck Obama. I am so absorbed in my thoughts that I don’t notice that someone is touching my shoulder. I turned around, wondering what the fuck was going on…and fell silent. My eyes widened as I beheld Mona, the pretty Somali lady from the night before. She smiles at me and I smile back. Without a word, she comes to sit next to me. I’m surprised but I don’t mind. We start talking, and she tells me that she’s heading to Bronson Avenue to visit her sister. Our bus goes through that path before ending up at the school.
Mona looks even better up close. Cute face, full lips, and oh my, her hijab doesn’t cover as much of her hair as it did last night. It’s more of a bandana than a hijab, the way she’s wearing it now. We chat happily, and she tells me that she once studied business administration at Carleton University. I nod at that. Cool. She flashes me an id card with her picture on it. It reads Canadian Revenue Agency, and the name on the card says Mona Laban. I grin and flash her my Carleton University U-Pass. It says Jacques Bernard. She grins, shakes her head and takes out her cell phone. Smiling, she asks me if I’m on Facebook. I nod, and she sends me a Facebook request right away. I barely have time to add her before the bus pulls onto Bronson Avenue and she gets up to leave. Before she leaves, she touches my hand gently and we exchange a meaningful look. Well, she shot me a meaningful look. I’m more puzzled than anything, but I smile nonchalantly, acting cooler than I felt.
The bus pulls into the campus parking lot near the engineering building, and students pour out. I am snapped out of my reverie by my friend Paul’s hand on my shoulder. Paul is a tall, slim Black guy I met last semester. He goes to the Adventist church near the Rideau Mall downtown, and güvenilir bahis siteleri as far as I know, he and I are the only Haitians at Carleton University. Paul has a thing for curvy White ladies, but the feeling isn’t often mutual. He recently broke up with Ivy, a plump blonde chick from Calgary, Alberta. He met her while visiting friends at Algonquin College. Paul must have noticed me talking to Mona Laban and asks me about her. I was about to tell him to mind his own damn business when my phone buzzes. Translation? I just got a new message. It’s on Facebook, and it’s from Mona. She wishes me a good afternoon, and also texted me her cell phone number. I save it to my iPhone, and grin. I text her right back, thanking her and wishing her a lovely and wonderful day.
Paul tells me to fess up, and as we make our way to our Legal Studies class near the campus library, I tell him about the past few hours. How I met Mona at my job, and later ran into her on the bus. Paul smiles, and tells me I’m a lucky dog. I grin. Maybe I am. Lord knows I’ve got a thing for gorgeous Black women of a certain age. Seriously. If you saw my bedroom, you’d understand. I love chocolate ladies over thirty. Gabrielle Union. Serena Williams. Candace Parker. Michelle Obama. I’ve got them on all on my wall. I am excited to meet Mona Laban, but I tell myself to cool off. I don’t know anything about her, other than that she’s friendly, of Somali descent, and works for the Canadian government. She could be married, or even gay for all I know. God I hope she isn’t either of these things. I am still smiling from ear to ear as I make my way to class, flanked by my best buddy.
Later that night, I called Mona Laban. She answered on the third ring, and we had a nice chat. I learned a bit more about her. She was born in the town of Mogadishu, Somalia, and raised in metropolitan Toronto, Ontario. She went to Carleton University for her undergrad and has an MBA from York University. A self-described fiery Scorpio and Jane-of-all-Trades, she claimed to enjoy meeting new people. I told her I was a proud Aquarius, and a rather adventurous sort. We talked on the phone for seventy three minutes, folks. She wanted to know so much about me and I was happy to tell her. Before she left, she invited me to a certain event, The Black Slam Poetry Festival, featuring artists from the Afro-Caribbean and African communities of Ottawa. It was happening this Friday night at six in a hall at the University of Ottawa. Cool. I promised her I’d be there. She told me I could invite my girlfriend if I wanted to. I laughed and told her I was single. She laughed and said she was single too, but always happy to meet cute brothers. Her words not mine, man! I laughed and thanked her for the invite, promising her I’d be there. I grinned from ear to ear as I lay on my bed. I fell asleep shortly afterwards and ended up being late for work but that’s a story for another time.
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