SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 218: “We Need To Show More Open Hand Than The Fist”

“Look at people for who they are inside, and respect everyone. Not for what they look like on the outside…and don’t judge by clothing, job or looks.”

The day is ending, and even though the weather is screaming of an on-coming rainstorm. I’ve been in Culver City all day, casting for a project we are shooting next week. I’m tired and wanting to find an area vibrant with activity, decide to hit the coastal streets of Santa Monica to meet our friend for the day.

The sun is setting fast and as I hurry to park my car, I ready myself for an athletic event in making a foot dash for the crowds of the streets below. Its one of those days where for whatever reason the universe transpires against me. Turns out that slip number one zillion, on  top-level eight, is the only open space to be found for parking. I take it as I accept the fact of meeting someone on a dark street (the sun is just hitting the horizon and will soon be gone).

I lean on my precision driving skills, or lack there of, and in a last dash veer in at G-forces that are perhaps a little excessive. Seemed safe to do, the lot is empty of people after all, or at least I think. Getting out of the car I realize that I am not alone in my speed racing moment. Walking towards me is a man who seems to be in a rush of his own.

I think, “Stay out of his path, he looks like is has someplace to go… and in a hurry?”

But in a spark of thought, that line of reason is extinguished as I reach out with a simple, “Hello.”

The hello leads to a kind gesture returned, and that kind gesture leads to a brief conversation. I invite him to 365.

Please welcome stranger now friend, refrigeration repairman and author of today’s opening quote, Gaetaio.

A transplant to United States from Sicily, Gaetiao speaks of his reasoning for coming to America. “I’m a mafia refuge.” He smilingly begins.

“A mafia refuge?” I inquire.

Gaetiao smiles again as he elaborates, “I’m just kidding about the mafia… but it is very difficult to get a job in Sicily unless you know someone. That is what I mean by my joke. Every day I was working very hard for a better life… and I did not like the rules. If you needed a job, it was about who you knew… not what you could do… or who you were. And in a way, I guess it is a little of the same everywhere. They change the music, but the rhythm is still the same.”

“What about the future Gaetiao?” I expand.

With grace he replies, “The most important thing that I want to tell the world is to respect everyone, the planet and everything. Nobody talks for real peace, everyone tries to fix the problem. But the way they are doing it is creating more problems. We need to show more open hand than the fist.”

“Are we getting close to being finished?” Gaetiao asks, “I have to finish a job I’m working on.”

Ah, now I understand his rushed pace through the parking structure.

“All wrapped up, we just need to grab a few snap shots and you’re free.” I respond.

The light is kind to us as it shines its last rays of the afternoon… perfect for a quick photo shoot. Mother Nature is apparently watching our back in making it easy to conclude our interview with three final minutes of picture-taking, and Gaetiao is off to work.

Gaetiao, thanks for the warm hand shake my friend. And I’m with you, “We need to show more open hand than the fist.”