Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Reality Doesn't Match the Perception

Day 14 - Photo 14. When I was a kid, the Ice Cream Truck was a magical creature. It's twinkling music announced it's arrival well in advance, giving me time to search or beg for enough change for a frosty treat. That was then. Now it seems ice cream trucks are an unsightly vehicular nightmare driven by suspicious characters with a parole agent's cell number written on the back side of their hand.

Stay with me on this one, it may take a while.

So, it was when I spotted this truck at a local park I believed I'd found my photo. And I was right, but for all of the wrong reasons. The man in the truck spotted me and immediately ducked out of sight. And as soon as he'd made his sale, he climbed out of the truck and asked me, in broken English, what I was doing and why "Are you making pictures of my business? My truck. Why are you in my business?" I tried to explain my project and that I enjoyed making photos and telling stories and...I was met with a blank stare. "I like to take pictures...and...well...ah...I like to take pictures." Blank stare. So I did the next best thing. Groveled. I apologized and explained that I'd meant no harm and that I would stop trying to photograph him.

Then, he told me the most amazing story. His name is Kasim. Kasim is from Iraq and was released from prison when Saddam Hussein opened the jail cells and flooded the country shortly before the U.S. invasion of that country. Kasim told me that he'd opposed military service during the Iraq - Iran war. And fled his country. For his actions, his three brothers were executed and his mother, father and sister imprisoned. With the remainder of his family in prison and their lives threatened, Kasim returned, was immediately imprisoned and sentenced to life. He was kept in a cell with no light and no human contact. Kasim says that he was there so long, "I forgot how to read." When Saddam released prisoners before the U.S. invasion, Kasim fled the country and eventually immigrated to the U.S. I shared with him that I'd served in the military and had been to his country. He thanked me. He kissed his hands and blew the kisses to the heavens. "Thank you, thank you. Bless America. Bless America. Now I live in America and I have a family, a home, a car and this (pointing to his Ice Cream Truck) a business!

Once again the Ice Cream Truck was a magical creature.

6 comments:

Eric Reed said...

Your best shot and the best story yet! Keep going.

Lauren Christensen said...

Wow, what a story. Stories like that are completely unexpected and seem to come out of nowhere, but they're always the best. The shot complements it nicely, especially after reading the part about Kasim's imprisonment in the dark and seeing only his arms emerging from inside the truck.

James Carbone said...

Great!

marc c. said...

that's awesome. this is what you do best; find the stories, tell the stories.
photo story!

stan said...

That's why I love what we do.

Jerry McBroom said...

Fantastic shot, made better knowing the story.